Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adrian Belew Power Trio on Tour - Part III

And the reviews continue to overwhelm me with their enthusiasm...while also making me extremely jealous I'm in Philadelphia, damn it!


From Pete:

"So my wife and i went to see the ABPT tonight at the Schaumburg Prairie center for the Arts. When we ordered tickets I was particularly thrilled to see they were not general admission but actually assigned seats. We have never been to a Belew show with this arrangement and that alone was quite a treat . We live 16 miles west of Chicago so we usually take off work early, drop the kids off at grandmas , fight traffic to the venu like 4 hours early, get a great place in line wait/starve but get a great spot near the front, then 20 minutes into the show, like clockwork, a few 9 foot tall drunken contractor guys force their way directly in front of us. Now i am 6 foot and my wife is 5 foot 4. You get the picture, i hate to say it but i have been through this at practically every show we go to, and it always ruins 2/3rds of the evening for me. these guys pulled this stunt at roger waters, on the lawn, we were front lawn with blankets laid out with our kids. They showed up 20 minutes in and stood with their work boots on our blanket right in front of my kids,then they decided to fire it up and have a weed party. It escalated with me almost getting attacked by this red eyed carnheart guy with a bandanna. roger waters the guy whose major theme is exactly opposite of this type of behavior. i guess i am getting old.sorry for the rant, i am sure most of you hip enough to be here reading this would never treat others with such flagrant disrespect, so enough of my yakkin.

The Schaumburg Prairie Center is about a half hour north with adequate parking, we got there 15 minutes before show time (YES!!!). i talked to a few groups of folks, encouraging them to clap clap clap to get a triple encore like what went down on Thursday. We went in and said "hi" to Martha , she said "Hi Petey" heh, soo nice , then she asked us if we preferred a sit down show over general admission DON'T get me STARTED! they had a couple of old ladies checking tickets with a flash light and i noticed a few video cameras on tripods . we had 3rd row seats on julie's side (sorry eric). the place is really really nice, they had ac on and it holds 300 people with perfect acoustic set up . While we approached our seats, Adrian came out to his station. The first notes rang out as i sat down in my seat . "This is sooo nice" I thought to myself " i think i am going to invest in a taser, stilts, and some deer urine spray for the next gen admin show. The stage set up was a little different in that i noticed 2 tall cylindrical speaker units to the left and right just behind the normal adrian amp set up . it turns out he feeds his looped parts to these monitors which seem to emit an otherworldly high quality frequency response, very cool . when he locked in a looped rhythm part the sound just cut through the venue like nothing i have heard before. it really added a different dimension of depth or something hard to describe . the first material was instrumental , parts a , and b , it does sound unfamiliar at first , but the trade mark AB flare is represented very well . its kind of "scale-y" , at parts with complex looped scales while he doubles in a higher key with julie following dead on while eric forged the solid heavy back beat driving the whole cacaphony , some very colorful alternate parts and an even comical slapstick pass the note section that i think the only one who got more of chuckle out of it was the "man with the golden guitar". After that it seemed like "madness" but that just got a lot larger and more disjointed , if you can imagine that . he said they had only performed this four times which is just a testament to how tight this little ensemble is , i really dug this new stuff . personally i don't "get" some of the KC complex material , this new stuff did have some of the technical flavor exhibited in KC but was also peppered with the type of unique sense/nonsense- ability that i have always loved about adrian's music . the right mixture of crazy complex parts and counter parts that just drip with feeling. when this new recording drops , we are in for a treat guys ! something truly new and unique.

After the new stuff which was about 20 minutes , that seemed to go by in about 30 seconds! they broke into young lions and they stopped playing for a second so mr b. could explain to us what we had just witnessed . i looked around the crowd and had recognized some familiar faces but also quite a few parents had brought the kids , and grandmas too! soo cool, but think about it, what other rock artist could pull that off? i think it speaks volumes about this guys CHARACTER . next up a blistering version of writing on the wall with the crazy different every time solo which had me burst out laughing a few times , i dont know what got into him he was really going nuts on the solo and he actually popped an e string ! they finished it up, andre grabbed the guitar and ran off with it. Adrian said he has never broken a parker string and pointed at Eric who immediately said "no not me" then tore into this nutty drum solo, it was actually the most dynamic drum solo ever, pretty amazing going from whisper quiet to crazy caveman style and mixing it up. andre came back with the fresh string which led into "beat box guitar" with a for lack of a better term "psychedelic freak out jam" in the middle and then back, so awesome . he had his full rig and i could tell there where some fresh oddball noises flying around all night! next up was an amazingly dynamic and really slick take on big electric cat that was a real treat to hear another version of that standard that stood out so much.

At this point they where ready to start playing madness and Julie put on this kooky pair of glasses. Eric was obviously in on the prank cause he was cracking up and giving her the nod. when adrian looked over at her he just lost it and said "there is something wrong with your EYES" but the kids never lost a beat and adrian recovered from his chuckle attack and the started it a few bars later. after madness adrian informed us that eric and julie had to leave for "cookies and milk" he did a solo trick guitar part with drive going into Tommorrow Never Knows.

the kids came back from cookie break in time for of bow and drum, ampersand which sounded fantastic . then there was a longer mutated looped intro for "colorfuturevision". That song always blows me away and this new arrangement is super cool. i thought i was cracking up when they were playing the intro to swingline on the break before the solo for futurevision, i lost it and gave ade the thumbs up, he saw me and had this huge grin on his face! sure enough they repeated that part again going out of the tune, what a surprise. next on the menu was the last section being "e" , a really cool piece of music that has some familiar parts, some crazy parts, and pretty much everything in between. i cant imagine how much time he has put into this new peice and also cant wait to get my hands on it. he said june , but he didn't say what YEAR so we will have to see. (NOTE FROM OUR AUTHOR - NOPE, IT'S JUNE OF 2009, THIS YEAR, PETE..I CAN'T WAIT EITHER)

After e their was a standing ovation! the place just lost it, hats off to the power trio for such a professional, completely astounding performance. despite the groundswell of thunderous applause we only got one encore, three of a perfect pair. i believe they were on a tight schedule with the venue or something cause it seemed really out of character for him. i know he was in a good mood, plenty of banter and laughs tonight. He did exclaim that it was a little odd playing to an "oil painting"(we were all just sitting there) . i can see what he meant, when you are used to playing to a bunch of sweaty drunks jumping around and yelling strange things at you we were for the most part very well behaved.

BUT...there was one guy who was screaming in between every song , "yagagagagh" , "RHINO", "DISCIPLINE" ,"ZAPPA!" "bring ANDRE out" which he did, for some applause and he gave him a nice plug. another guy, gosh you know i have witnessed other folks on shrooms, acid, coke, pcp, heroin, but i have never witnessed ANYONE as high as this cat was. he walked right down to the stage and stood right in front of us, all writhing around. he was clapping along and pounding his fist on the stage. there was a camara guy like 2 feet away from him taping! EVERYONE in the venue was sitting down. the entire night i think 2 people left for potty break and i was one of them. this guy just crashed the stage while he is peaking out on some heavy hallucinogen? to me he was a huge distraction, i had to restrain myself from body slamming this guy, tackle him and take him down , grandma doesn't need to see that. Come on guys, if you are going to try out the latest designer drug or dmt based hallicinogen, stay home and do that stuff. i just hope the poor guy made it home ok , dude was trippin BALLS!

we went to the merch table and honestly, we own everything on there. i just have to say in this digital age how important live shows are to the artists. now is the time for us to support our musicians by spreading the word, and buying tickets. seriously , unless you are a 9 foot tall contractor with a whiskey problem or just got hooked up with some whale tranquilizers.

they all came out to sign merch, and i had the pleasure of meeting Gary Slick. He is a great guy and we had a nice chat about kids, music, and life in general . Eric noticed that i was sporting a "Mr Bungle" t shirt. He told me that "Disco Volante" was one of his all time favorite albums, of all time . he also has been to more "fantomas" concerts than any other band (besides the trio). totally cool, this guy is the real deal. they all signed a shirt for my wife and we took pics, me with adrian and my wife and martha. they always have a nice time chatting at the shows. she is really nice, down to earth person. i had a few stories i wanted to share with adrian, but i could tell they were trying to hustle , so i tried not to be a burden and just got a quick picture. oh well next time maybe. there was a younger gentleman there with a portable recorder, they actually did an interview so i got a card from the guy and will post a link when its up.

overall impression , if you are on the fence about making the investment to see the trio again, there is no way you should miss this tour. a good chunk of amazing new material and some of the old standbys have been reworked into new versions, it was a lot different of a show than the first time we saw the trio last year . i cant tell you how much soloing went on. i mean he was just wailing all night, a lot more than i have ever noticed before. this tour is really heavy on the solos and guitar tricks, well worth whatever you have to do to make it to a few of these shows... do it. i would have tickets for tomorrow's show but i herniated a disk and haven't worked in a year so we are SUPER broke.

thanks to the abpt for an amazing uplifting experience once again.

oh (forgive me for the long post please) when we were walking out of the venue right after the encore (3 of a perfect pair) this guy asked his grandma, he goes "was it too loud?" she said oh no, not the music , just the CROWD!" he goes how about the music? "oh the music was just fine!!!" when i was leaving i saw the old lady who had taken our tickets "what did you think of tonight?" i asked, she goes "i liked the last song best!!!" when i saw ade at the table i asked him if he could teach his stool (he has this incredibly cool chair/stool) to play robert fripp's synth solo on 3 of a perfect pair. he interrupted me and exclaimed "thats MY SOLO " not Robert, thats ME! Really? i said. i lay awake at night thinking how do you make that noise. " "its an old lexicon you could change this parameter (he made a knob twisting gesture)! i said is the sound a gr300 , he goes yeah yeah. awesome . i also figured out one of his new trick sounds that has been bugging me since side one came out, but i am not going to be a weenie and give it up. thanks for reading."

Ha ha, that post was great, wasn't it? Certainly one of the more colorful reviews I've read. But I know what he means about dopes at concerts -- I didn't want to write about it in my recent attendance at the Jeff Beck show, but we arrived late, could not get anywhere near the stage, it seems like a mens' basketball team stood in front of me, and idiots not only were fucked up out of their brains spilling beer on me and one genius couple on Extasy humping to my right, but it seemed everyone else had their blackberries or iPhones whipped out and were not taking photos, but were texting!

Fucking idiots.

Which brings me to my next review, from Rhea, which basically addresses my feelings about NEEDING to be in front of the stage...that's her comfort zone and mine as well. I laughed when I read her story because it could have been the same words coming from my mouth as well. I'd copy her entire post here but I think you should click on the link and visit her blog for the whole story. The only thing I disagree with, Rhea, is your desire to hear King Crimson covers. This is the Adrian Belew Power Trio, and Ade has an incredible wealth of his own solo material. So while I am in agreement with you about wanting to hear Three of a Perfect Pair and other Crimson classics, understand that this trio is a whole 'nother beast and this is 2009! But trust me, I hear you...I go to Clapton shows and want to hear Cream covers, too, but I can just imagine Eric saying to himself "If one more person shouts out White Room I'm going to..."

Never mind.

In any event, let me end the whole general admission diatribe by saying that truth to tell, if you've experienced an Adrian Belew Power Trio show, the true energy comes from the standing room scenario. Their music is loud and vibrant and makes it impossible to sit in your seat. Adrian's remark about playing to an oil painting is very true...this band feeds, and I mean REALLY FEEDS, off the crowd's feverish reaction and you just don't get that in a sit-down only venue.

Sooo...all I can say is, next time you are stuck standing next to a screaming, tripping idiot who is ruining the show for you, get proactive and get management to "remove" said idiot. I wish I'd done that during Jeff Beck but truth is, we were contributorily negligent for getting there so late. Next time I'm going with the Rhea factor and getting there before the doors even open so that I am first in line.


That's it for now but I'm waiting for some more reviews to roll in...especially from my pal, uber Ade fan Joe I'll be adding to this...

***AND AS PROMISED - from Lost in Musing over at All Good People, a/k/a the Yes forum board:

"Adrian Belew and Eric Slick and Julie Slick performed only 5 miles from my house on Saturday, at a nice (but odd) venue, a “Center For Performing Arts”.

I say odd venue, because the intimate small (442 seats) theatre-like setting seems more matched to a play, or classical performance, rather than prog-rock.

The crowd was odd also, in that there was dead silence between numbers throughout the first-half of the set, and you could hear a pin drop, after polite applause, unusual for a Belew show. Adrian even commented on this fact, saying that it was a little odd playing to an "oil painting"(everyone just sitting there very well behaved). He said he is used to playing to a bunch of sweaty drunks falling down, jumping around, and yelling strange things.

It was also odd since a bunch of old hippies were in the house (Arlene & Bruce & me & she-who-must-be –obeyed).

The band had the usual set-up, with Ade looping multi-layers very effectively all night.

I must be getting picky as I get older, because I thought sound should be excellent in this venue, even just from stage amps. But Julie was low in the mix as seems to be typical, based on the last several tours I have seen. Also, Ade’s two stage-left channels seemed to be much hotter than the left, so anything he played through the leftside sounded awesome, but overpowered the right channels.

Nonetheless, the sound was generally fine, and Ade solos were cutting, grinding, crushing, flowing, humming, singing, melting, oozing, and on and on. I am amazed by the tones …. Including haunting whale-song sounds at one point.

I brought my ear plugs, since my ears are very sensitive after 40 years of countless gigs including such as The Who and Humble Pie, but plugs were not needed.

Excellent dynamics, especially when Ade broke a string, and put Eric on the spot to drum solo for a few minutes while the guitar was fixed. I was stunned at Eric’s style, touch, sense of dynamics, and rhythms at such an age. With the “pin drop” silence, Eric would gradually reduce volume until you could just hear the softest touch of the cymbal, which made the entire crowd giggle.

Setlist included Ampersand, Young Lions, Beat Box Guitar, A Little Madness, Drive (Within/Without You), Of Bow and Drum, Big Electric Cat, Futurevision, and Three of a Perfect Pair (encore). A little short of 2 hours.

I love Drive, and was glad it was included. I thought Futurevision was a good choice and very well done also.

The Trio was remarkably tight as a unit, and the years of playing together are showing.

The showcase of the set was the bulk (three-fifths) of the new composition ‘e’, which is described as a thematic piece of music in five sections, based on a 16-note chromatic figure, about 50 minutes long. It will be on the new studio album to be released in June.

Ade has said that each of the five pieces of music flow through a wide variety of secondary themes and melodies some of which reappear, but they all are based upon and eventually come back to the e figure. In some areas the timbre of the piece is much like Crimson, but Gershwin and Stravinsky influences are present as well. The piece was composed using 16 different loops with parts and solos added over the top, and was written and arranged specifically for the power trio.

The gig opened with 20-minutes of ‘e’, parts 1 & 2. The set ended with part 5, I think it was.

Some of ‘e’ I really like, and some will take some learning, similar to acclimating to a Crimson tune.

So I had a good evening, and it was rewarding to see Ade once again, and I think my third time seeing Julie’s feet and Eric’s hair (LOL).

I was also nice to chat with Arlene and Bruce, although we were not able to do a pre- or post- show, and that certain guitarist dude (cough …. Kurt), did not show. There were a few people from my office there also.

I am disappointed I left before Ade and the Trio came out to the merchandise table … oh, well.

My advice would be to see Ade and The Trio if they play near you, as it is well worth it.

From Michael over at Planet Crimson:

"This is the third time I've seen the Trio in what, 4 years? They are still as fun and energetic as ever, and musically they just continue to grow. Adrian commented on it being unusual for them not to be playing for drunks in a bar, and this was indeed a very different experience. While the second time I saw them it was obvious that they had improved and the show was simply better than the first, in this case the show was neither better nor worse in that it was so different.

Of course, the main difference was "E", of which they played 3 of the 5 parts, taking up, I would guess, a good quarter of the show. They opened with the 4th public playing of "A" and "B", and closed the set with "E". In between they focused primarily on Adrian's output from recent years (although they did throw in some some old favorites like a smoking "Big Electric Cat"), and, significantly I think, within that recent output focused heavily on the instrumentals. This music lets them all stretch out a bit: Julie in particular seemed really free to explore her bass. I didn't keep track of any time or numbers, but it's very safe to say that Adrian sang much less less last night, and that the music was primarily instrumental. This included an impromptu drum solo Eric performed while we waited for guitar-tech Andre to repair a broken guitar string. (The expression on Eric's face when Adrian suddenly threw it over to him was priceless.)

Oh, one other thing: no King Crimson in the main set. For the lone encore they did play 3oaPP.

One thing that's clear is that with "E", which will be released in June, Adrian is moving into a new phase. How long this will last and where it will lead I suspect even he doesn't know, but it is music that works better in a theatre than a club. (It was kind of strange sitting in a theatre chair during those moments when they rocked out a bit.)

I also have to wonder if some recent events led to the withdrawal of a lot of Crimson material. This wasn't Adrian Belew of King Crimson's solo gig, this was The Adrian Belew Power Trio, his main band.

That's fine with me. I didn't miss Dinosaur, Frame, Elephant, etc. one bit."