Thursday, March 06, 2008

Adrian Belew Power Trio - Chicago and More

It is still early morning in Chicago and I am positive I will be coming back here all throughout the day to post reviews and photos, etc., but for now, here is the first comment, courtesy of the Planet Crimson forum board:

ETA: If you have already swung by my blog early this morning I just added a huge fantastic review of last night's show at Martyrs Live toward the end of this post at 8:00 a.m. so make sure you scroll down.

Okay, back to the first comment to appear over at Planet Crimson:

"You know how in the summer of '06 those of us in Chicago went on and on about how great the Trio is?

Tonight they were better. Seriously better. Last time the Slicks impressed with their ability to play like Tony + Bill. Tonight I found they had moved into their own style, able to improvise with Ade at every turn, sometimes even leading him. They're all over those intruments. And of course, Adrian was Adrian ....

Oh, by the way, they did "Neorotica". It killed

Holy crap - just as I was typing that, my Google alert thing went off -- the trio got a blurb in today's Boston Globe!


"The story of the Adrian Belew Power Trio, which will perform Sunday at The Center for the Arts in Natick, is a real-life rock 'n' roll fairy tale. So that makes maverick, super-cool, mind-and-string-bending guitarist Adrian Belew (of King Crimson, David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Frank Zappa fame), well, sort of the fairy godmother.

In 2006, Belew stopped in at the Paul Green School of Rock in Philadelphia. There he met two teenagers, bassist Julie Slick, now 21, and drummer Eric Slick, now 20. The siblings had been jamming with Green since their grade-school days (that is, since Green started the school in his apartment as a way to pay his tuition).

Belew was impressed, and though he surely could have had his pick of big-industry names, he joined with the Slicks to form the trio. They've been on the road delivering mind-searingly virtuosic rock ever since. New tunes, Crimson favorites, and Belew's solo work all make the play list.

The Adrian Belew Power Trio, 8 p.m. Sunday, TCAN, 14 Summer St., Natick. Tickets: $37; or $35 for students and seniors. Call 508-647-0097 or visit

Okay, heart be still, because Google Alerts also just told me that apparently Eric Slick gave an interview to the Daily News in Massachusetts:


"With David Byrne's neurotic vocals and a blend of bouncing funk, punk and fractured pop, Talking Heads was an unusual band from the start.

But three minutes into their fourth studio album, 1980's "Remain In Light," in tumbled a guitar solo that pushed the boundaries of their sound. Its scattershot bleeps, bloops and bending notes sounded more like Pac Man in the throes of a seizure than any six-string instrument.

Even a listener familiar with the band had to sit up and wonder: What the heck was that?

It wasn't a video game on the fritz, but Adrian Belew, whose squawks and squeals, abstract textures and intricately plucked patterns have defied the limits of guitar music for more than three decades. He got his first big break touring with Frank Zappa in 1977, became front man for progressive rock giants King Crimson, and has played with everyone from David Bowie to Paul Simon to Nine Inch Nails to Cyndi Lauper.

Soon, Belew will add Natick to the long list of places he's toured. His latest project, the Adrian Belew Power Trio - featuring young brother and sister Eric and Julie Slick on drums and bass - stops at the Center for Arts in Natick on Sunday, March 9, during a month-long national tour in support of their new live album, "Side Four."

"I get to play with my hero," Eric Slick, 20, said in a phone interview. "I've been listening to Adrian since I was about 11 years old and I heard a cassette tape of King Crimson's 'Frame by Frame."'

For the most part, the trio is playing a showcase of Belew's work, with about two-thirds of the songs pulled from his solo albums. Much of the rest of their set is made up of King Crimson songs from the '80s and later, Slick said.

But the trio is exploring new territory of its own, debuting an original song, "e," live during the tour. While the songs pull from Belew's catalog, the shows aren't rote performances, but three musicians reacting and playing off one another.

"It's coming from a place that's very personal and fun and playful. We're having fun on stage. You don't see that much these days," Slick said.

"We're having a ball. We're collectively improvising and really striving to do something musically adventurous."

Despite his influence in the music world, Belew is far from a pampered rock God - his near-hit "Oh Daddy" in 1989 featured his daughter wondering when he'd finally strike it rich. The Power Trio is traversing the country not in a private jet or giant tour bus, but in a Dodge Caravan, Slick said. Belew and his wife, Martha, share duties at the wheel.

Though they have performed together since 2006, this is the trio's first long tour together. They first met while Belew was visiting the School of Rock in Philadelphia to advise students, and the owner urged him to jam with two of his former students - Eric and Julie.

"I was freaked," Slick said. "I was very nervous. I still get nervous, but I was very nervous before that happened. It's something out of a book. Opportunities like that don't really come along ever."

Before long, the trio performed together in New York, and Belew invited the siblings to his studio outside Nashville to start learning songs, Slick said.

Slick said he and his sister have been musically inclined since the beginning, using a microphone and two boomboxes to record songs in their Philadelphia living room. "I started playing percussion when I was about 2 years old. She would just kind of sing along," he said. "We would sing songs about how much we loved our mom."

Though Slick said he listens to bands like Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective, his views seem well-paired with Belew, who laments in a video on his Web site that so much modern music is "fashionable crap dressed as artistry."

"I try and stay current with new music, but a lot of it, I can't really tolerate it," said Slick, who spent much of his teenage years exploring classic rock and bands like The Flaming Lips. Now he's often occupied with Igor Stravinsky and Charles Mingus.

The trio breaks away from that "highly choreographed" and "overly serious" music, Slick said. He said the band shares a special, sophisticated sense of communication on stage, and they're working hard. But above all, they're having fun.

"I think what we're doing is very unique and very different," Slick said. "There's a lot of soul in our show."

Finally, I know this link was in my last post, but it's just so cool I don't want anyone to miss it. For some fantastic photographs of the trio, please visit Tour Bus Live and click on the ticket stub. Really great stuff!

ETA: This review just in from Pete in Chicago and I am laughing my ass off in between being thrilled. Why? Over that mailman'll see what I mean:

"Wow. This was the first time we caught the Power Trio. Due to a bad series of fates in 2006 we missed the first leg of the tour in Chicago. We did see the first side of this tour in 05 with Mike and Mike backing him up at the Naperville "RIBFEST" . but boy we were in for a surprise tonight. Not only has Mr. Belew beefed up his arsenal of effect processers, his fellow band mates have pushed the live Adrian Belew experience beyond the perception of what an intense show would normally have to offer.

Julie and Eric have propelled Adrian's live performance into a space rarely achieved in the status quo of ho hum pose laden rock shows. There is plenty of room to breathe if you can count into the one hundredth of a thousandth of a millisecond. Eric laid down a powerful nuclear clock synchronized mean time beat, only to be rivaled by his big sisters tapestry of hand spun low frequencies that would make a certain Claypool ponder, "How did that happen again?"

Seriously jeopardizing my normal amazement of Adrian's fret work, my attention was immediately pulled to Julie's nonchalant "i didn't even realize I just played 60 notes in 8 seconds" approach to playing the bass guitar.

Seriously, his fellow stage mates have not only pushed him, they definitely have inspired him, as demonstrated in the jaw-dropping rendition of "E", a yet to be released gem that sprouted from these sessions. Now more than ever some of his wacky stage antics like playing over loops and multiple loop overdubs make an impression that these tricks are old hat to this ridiculously symbiotic trio, almost to the point of questioning if perhaps a certain twang bar king had perhaps moonlighted as a mailman some 23 years ago in whatever town the Slick kids have called home.

I did get a chance to talk to Eric after the show. He had a set of castinets, and was clickety clacking them in an ordinary fashion going on about them. "What about in 7/8?" I asked him. He closed his eyes, tapped it out and did it.

Julie was very humble and down to earth, acting like I was exaggerating when I couldn't stop bringing up how great she can play the bass. She told me a story about Jeff Beck's bass player saying "I am not Julie Slick" when questioned after a show! "Heh," she said.

Adrian will have them play on his new solo album, but probably not all of it, (solo album), either way I cant wait to hear a new one. It is so exciting to see him always end up working with such talented folks, and these guys are cutting their teeth with him, but they dont sound young at all, they just have a really clean soul and can play like you wouldn't fucking believe.

Adrian's set up was one of the largest most disgusting displays of guitar effects he has been seen with in a while. He has a whole new section for the foot pedal that controls the vg-99 ,(Roland's sickest guitar thingy ever) only to be topped by the new eventide delay box, a boomerang, some boutique fuzzes, compressors, synth, dual fade pedals, chopper, j.h pedal, the list goes on. I got some nice pics which I shall post soon, it's late so thanks for reading all of this.

It always strikes me how much of a gentleman he is after the show. Imean a lot of folks that are that talented don't seem to have any time for the common man, much to say take a picture with him. I think that is the best part of Adrian Belew's character. I mean, you can even read his signature! How many rock stars can you say
that about?

Bottom line, if you don't have "Side Four" yet, get it, and if you have ANY possible way to catch this tour, don't miss it, it's a truly new take on an artist's work that is even more unique."

Later, I am sure.