Friday, August 18, 2006

Adrian Belew Power Trio on tour -- Tonight: St. Petersburg, Florida

Eric Slick, Victor Wooten, and Julie Slick following what sounds like an incredible show at Chastain Park (The Acoustic Planet Tour with Bela Fleck and Umphrey's McGee)

So I'm currently headed for St. Petersburg, Florida, where I will get to catch the Adrian Belew Power Trio tonight at the State Theatre. Think I'm a little bit excited? Here's a couple of reviews I recently read from members of Adrian's "Tribe" who attended the shows in Atlanta and Piermont, New York. Ha ha - I really feel for the guy in Atlanta, whose review I am posting first, but since he got to experience such an incredible night of music, I don't feel all that bad:

"The show last night was a once in a lifetime event, marred only by the exuberant, young jamb crowd, oh and a torrential downpour. It was the fantasy version of this show that I had envisioned yet did not expect to have so fully realized.

The show began promptly at 7:30 with Bella Fleck introducing Adrian & The Slicks. It was rather warm out and the evening was still in the early lighting stages which made for good non flash photography conditions.

The show was somewhat of a sociological experiment as these bands tend to draw a varied crowd mix. You had your more mature.... jazz who were there to kick back and enjoy the jazzy styling of Fleck and then you had your younger, jamb crowd.

Of course you also had your Adrian fans and a few like moil who dig it all.

Adrian & Co. kicked it into gear and it was fun to watch the crowd reactions as he literally bent their minds with his twang bar. I yelled out "great job Julie" at the end of Madness, she really tore that won up, in a good way.

Eric and Julie were all those great things I have heard about them. Eric was all over the kit in beast fashion and Julie was solid and impressive, just as I have read in other reviews.

Bella Fleck strolls out and joins the trio in a tasty bit of mammary. (can't remember which tune ) This is what I had been hoping for. Adrian mentions that we are going to see a lot more of that during the evening. I was so happy to see Bella & Adrian plain's side by side that I would have been floating and satisfied with that but it was only a hint of things to come.

Adrian thanks the crowd and they go into Elephant Talk. Julie is all over the Tony Levin bass lick.

Here's where it gets interesting.

They are playing basically the outre to Elephant talk when Umpire's drummer mounts his kit straight across the stage from Eric. Then the bass player for UP.ME. comes out, then the lead guitar until eventually the whole band is on stage playing Elephant Talk along with the trio.

Eric exits as the U.M. drummer carries on the percussion, then Julie exits and eventually, Adrian. Now you have Umphries McGee finishing Elephant Talk and morphing straight into their set....

After the trio exits, two things take place, one: the sky opens up and tries to wash us away and two: the younger set rushes the stage along with many,many folks who just want to escape the torrential downpour. The stage has very extreme pitch which, just our luck, terminated right above us so along with the natural drops the roof was delivering a nice wall of water. We were soaked to the bone. I had a perfectly good rain jacket with hood which I decided to leave in the car.

So now our peaceful, expensive space was squarely invaded by the drunk and dancing factor along with the strict enforcers trying to enforce. It rained and rained and we just adjusted to the new coolness and wetness and remained for the duration.

Adrian strolls back out to join U.M. for a rollicking rendition of RED. It was awesome. U.M. has two guitars, a bass, keyboards a drummer and a percussionist. They were all over "Red". It sounded awesome.

Then various Flecktones jam with U.M., starting with Vic.

Slowly all the Flecktones emerge and just as with the last transition they fold themselves into the tune at hand and the Umphries slip off one at a time leaving the Flecktones to morph into their set.

So, there were no intermissions at all....

The rain stopped but the crowd who rushed the stage remains, they would have rushed the staged rain or shine.

The Flecktones weave their magic as always and invite the McGees to join them for "Stomping Ground" which was an all out lick trading festival.

Anyway, 10:30 arrives and Bela asks if we'd like to see a jam session.

(We all said no of course)

But, regardless, everybody comes back out, The Trio, The McGees...the stage is crowded. Adrian is front and center, Julie standing with Victor, Umphries bass player making for plenty of low end. Eric, Umphrie's drummer, Umphrie's Percussionist and Future Man.

They tear into a crowd pleasing rendition of "Come Together" by The Beatles. (familiar territory for our Ade ) He and an Umphrie trade off on the lead vocals. When that ends Bela simmers into another piece that I didn't recognize and all join in with feature spots for most everyone.

At one point I noticed that Vic had quit playing and so did the Umphrie's bass man
and it was all Julie carrying the low end with the lead guitar player of U.M.

It was so farkin' incredible folks, you should'a been there.

If last night's show turns out to be it for my musical ramblings for the week, I can still wear a big ol' satisfied grin.

If any of this post is incoherent, I apologies, I was up all it's time to try to catch up.

Anyway, I was hoping for Bela & Adrian to get together on at least a tune and it turned out to be so much more.

I know Julie had to excited to play on stage with Victor Wooten, way to go girl, you rocked the house..."

Thanks for that -- man, I wish I were there. I did edit that post to leave out certain personal information like his friends' names and the state of his car...hope nobody minds.

And now for the Piermont review:

"This past Thursday night the wifey and I booked a sitter (grandpa) and headed North to check out Sir Belew and the Slicks at the Turning Point Cafe, located in Piermont, NY, in this little century(s) old Bed and Breaky Hudson River town.

The venue was killer. I don't know the history, but The Turning Point Cafe looks to be an 19th century hotel turned restaurant & bar, it had that nice old country feel. The bar and stage were downstairs in the basement and we had a table in the back which was only about 20 feet from the stage. The place was packed, but there was a only a total of about 75 plus in attendance, making this a very intimate venue indeed.

We had a good view of Ade and Jule, but could only see about half of Eric, as he was tucked back into this corner area of the stage.

It obviously wasn't the biggest stage, however, what was coming from that stage was a huge sound! The trio kicked things off with Writing on the Wall, followed by Dinosaur, followed by Ampersand - some real smooth bass picking and tight drums throughout, and of course Ade being Ade, just killing that six string. Young Lions was next, and they just freakin rocked that one, arm and leg hairs on end - what a great song! Also, very fitting for the young Slicks to be playing it. Then (I believe) it was Beat Box Guitar, which was just killer, Eric's drums were the best here and on Ampersand, dig the fast heavy pounding from young Eric. They closed out the first half with Matchless Man and then Ade gave the kids a break, while he perfomed some pretty solo's including George Harrison's "Within you Without you". That sitar sound he pulls off is just brilliant. Second, to Young Lions was Ade by himself doing Lone Rhino, this songs real special - first time I heard it was off the acoustic Belew and it was all over (guy's been one of my heros ever since). The solo electric version was excellent, love those rhino noises he
pulls off.

The rest of the trio came out and they rattled off, I believe, 5 Crim tunes that just cranked, this included Frame by Frame, Three of a Perfect Pair, Elephant Talk, I was so impressed with Jule's playing on Three of a Pefect Pair.

After the gig Andrea stuck around to see Ade and to pass along our condolescences regarding Ken. He's definitely missed, but they all seem to be coping as best they can.

I picked up Side 3 and asked Ade to sign the CD and and a picture of the boy, who was in the womb last time Ade was in town. Ade ended up in the seat next to me at the bar for awhile signing CDs for fans. As you imagine, I was in my glory bellied up to the bar having a beer next to one of my heros.

We got chatting some more and Andrea ordered a round of car bombs for herself and Ade and I, which those of you who don't know is a half pint o' Guinness and shot of Jameson topped off with Bailey's cream, the shot gets dropped in the Guinness and you're supposed to gulp it down Boiler Maker Style. It's tasty li'l concoction and Ade agreed.

Ade and I got chatting some more about Jeff Beck while Andrea and Martha were exchanging picures of the kids. As it turns out Ade's come to be friends with the man and he told me a story about the first time they met where Jeff was chatting with Keith Richards while Ade was in the room and Jeff said to Keith "Keith, you gotta hear this guy sing this song.", and then he called Ade over in the hopes that he'd sing "Three of a Pefect Pair" for Keith. How cool's that!

What a night! I was somewhat disappointed that we didn't go to BBs show, especially, when I heard how great they sounded, but seeing Ade and Slicks in this cool little venue and having a chance to hang after made up for that 10 times over..."

Finally, here's an interview which recently appeared in The Florida Times about Ade's upcoming shows there this weekend:

Expect solo tunes, plus material from King Crimson

By ROBERT KAYE, Special to the Times-Union

"In a story that has become legendary among his peers and fans, Belew was "discovered" by Frank Zappa while playing in a cover band in Nashville. After joining forces with Zappa, Belew was then invited by David Bowie to join his ranks. From there, Belew went on to perform with the Talking Heads, the Tom-Tom Club and formed his own band, the Bears. His most tenured gig to date has been in the iconic prog-rock ensemble, King Crimson, joining in the early 1980s.

Q: I don't think Crimson has played here since the early 1970s when the band recorded the Earthbound album at our old baseball field.

We have been to Florida a few years back, but it has been a long time. That's one of the things I would point out as a preface to anything else we say. It's so difficult, for some reason, to play in Florida. That's for anyone; my band, the Bears, King Crimson or Adrian Belew solo. It's a head-scratcher that all of us have always wondered about.

It seems like Florida is a place with so much entertainment, with all its tourist dollars, but strangely enough, it is one of the hardest places to ever get shows to happen in. I don't know why and I've always wondered about that.

Q: The Stanley Clarke/George Duke Project recently canceled all of its Florida dates, including Jacksonville.

I've had numerous booking agents and promoters tell me all my life that for some reason it's hard to play there. Who wouldn't want to go to Florida to tour? There are a lot of things to do and everybody loves going there, but for some reason, for certain types of genres, it's very difficult to play in your state. Just a little advance apology from me to my fans in Jacksonville for being so long overdue.

Q: Will you be performing your own solo material exclusively or will you also do some Crimson covers?

It's my new stuff and a few bits that I picked from my past solo albums, and about a half a dozen Crimson tunes. There's nothing in there from the Bears, but there are some really interesting trio versions of Crimson material, which is unique and challenging in its own way.

For one thing, none of these songs were ever performed in a trio format, so when you cover a song like Three of a Perfect Pair, you really have to tweak it and add some interesting things to make it work as a threesome. But that's one of the things that I find so rewarding about what we're doing.

Q. I understand you're playing with the Slick Siblings.

It's a very young rhythm section, Eric Slick [19, drums] and Julie Slick [20, bass guitar], are brother and sister. Many people know them from the Zappanale concerts.

They have a very exceptional sort of chemistry because they've played music together all their lives. They were some of the first graduates from the School of Rock in Philadelphia. So we're looking to have a lot fun down there together. I think you'll like it."

Okay, then. I'm off to St. Petersburg. What a blast! It's like a five day birthday celebration. Okay, it is a five day birthday celebration! I still can't believe Julie and Eric arranged this for me. How freaking insanely lucky am I?