Live Reviews

I love a man who can shake his Maraccas and the lead singer ( Alex Maas)  from The Black Angels does, he also gets the tambourine out from time to time. The Black Angels don't say much and when they do, you can't understand a word they mumble. Don't expect any audience participation from these blokes but the sound from them is hypnotising and even quite sexy to say the least. 

At the Plaza, last night in Zurich the five piece band looked a little cramped on stage and even though the sound wasn't great, you got a feel for what I have seen described as 'Psychedelic Rock'. Very reminiscent of Black Rebel Motor Club but less laboured. I just love that deep grungy/echoey deep guitar and I think some of their riffs are probably a little lighter than B.R.M.C. 

A steamy Friday night in London and the return of Gary Louris and Mark Olson  as the Jayhawks along with Karen Grotberg, Tim O’Reagen and Marc Perlman. 

Marc Olson and Ingunn Ringvold filled the support slot, the latter mainly on a large bongo drum and vocals and Marc alternating between an acoustic guitar and something resembling  a sitar lap steel guitar. 

I can’t say I recognised any of the songs but the harmonies where great and in a smaller venue it could have been quite a intimate affair.

 

The Jayhawks were on stage at 8.45pm and pretty much straight into Wichita followed

by a ninety minute set filled with, classics from ‘Tomorrow the Green Grass’ and ‘Hollywood Town Hall’ ( except Crowded in the Wings).

 

The harmonies remain unblemished and for a band that were at the forefront of the modern day Americana movement the set and performance did not disappoint. This was however their fifth show in five nights on the UK tour and perhaps ‘workmanlike’ is a good description.

 

It was the classics that were greeted like long lost friends, 'Blue', 'Nevada California', 'Over my Shoulder', 'Two Angels',. O’Reagan took the lead with his composition 'Tampa to Tulsa' during the encore as well.

 

The most ‘Jayhawk friendly (harmony wise) new songs like 'She Walks In So Many Ways' were interspersed amongst the set. There was some head nodding and hand clapping in the first couple of rows otherwise people seem to be soaking up the long lost tunes along with the heat for the duration of the evening.

 

One comment that came from the punters outside the venue was, the band going off at 10.15. Probably the venue wanting to get some extra cash in from a club night?, but it’s a bit disappointing on a Friday.

 

Pete

 

Keith Jarrett’s standards trio played to a packed Royal Festival Hall last night (27 July) Made up of Jarrett (on Steinway) bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, this was a evening of intensely beautiful music played by true masters of their craft. 

Again, we find ourselves experiencing a concert far from the norm (for us) but with an affection for the ECM label back in the Seventies I just felt inclined to try, a live high profile live jazz recital at last.

 

A very respectful audience saw the trio arrive on stage at 7.40 pm take a deep bow, play fifty minutes of sublime music, 'St. Louis Blues', 'In Your Own Sweet Way', 'Sandu', & 'What Now My Love', and retire for a break. The second half included 'Yesterdays', followed by' When will the Blues Leave'  with added drum magic.Four encores followed as the trio left and rejoined the stage that many times.

 

At the end of the gig I did wonder if this was the path for an aging concert goer. Comfortable seat, no earplugs required, early start, early finish, no rush to get the last train. A few years down the road I think but with a combined aged on stage of around 200 I guess, this was certainly an evening for the musical connoisseur.

 

The sound balance levels and tone were pitch perfect throughout, rather like an ECM vinyl recording. Jarrett’s playing was actually quite stunning, fingers flowing across the piano or, bent low over the instrument picking out the most delicate notes that would even make an angel weep. 

On the weekend that we lost a magnificent musical voice, it was reassuring, nay, reaffirming to see Irma Thomas performing in London last night for the first time (she said) in over twenty years. Her first single ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man’ was released in 1960, and her voice was as magnificent last night over ninety minutes as I am sure it was in her earlier career.  

Delighted to be on stage, with a wicked sense of humour and more than happy to take requests, however obscure, she sang what she “could remember” and she could remember a lot! On occasion she just sang the vocal as the band didn’t even know the song, something a few artist would not go near attempting.

 

Dubbed the ‘Soul Queen of New Orleans’ her heart obviously belongs to that city and the most stunning moment of the night came with a vocal and keyboard cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Shelter from the Rain’, which was so intense your mind drifted to not only New Orleans but also the other  tragic events of this weekend.

 

‘Time is on My Side’ and countless greats were sung and lapped up by an adoring audience. A special show.

 

 

The tiny Junction 2 venue in Cambridge must hold around 200-300 people and ‘hats off’ to Athlete for sticking with that venue after the show sold out and not moving to the bigger Junction venue.   

 

A rather fine,’ The Robot Heart’ commenced proceedings. A four piece with gentle delicate songs not unlike an early Athlete themselves in some respects.  

 

The show itself was, the hits stripped back, which was delightful. We got the standouts from all the records plus more. Vehicles & Animals, El Salvador, Tourist, Wires and a full electric Rubik's Cube to round up the set almost 2 hours later.  

 

Carey Willetts, Bass Stephen Roberts drums and Tim Wanstall, keyboards and omnichord all seemed to be having a great time and in the end Joel said that “it was great to be part of something different”  

 

Like an old jumper you have not worn for years and when you try it on again, it fits. That's how the evening felt, perhaps, a band whose records are seldom played, back to remind us how good the songs actually are! Hats off indeed.

 

Pete

 

 

 

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