Gig Review: Unlabeled, 13.05.2016

Blog, Gig Review

Die Veranstaltungsreihe Unlabeled wurde fortgesetzt: dieses Mal traten am Abend des 13. Mai zwei Bands im Wiener Curtain auf, die sehr unterschiedliche Musik zu bieten hatten.

© Raffael Pankraz

© Raffael Pankraz

Los ging es um 20:30 Uhr mit Raffael Pankraz & The Temporary Hands. Raffael Pankraz ist ein Musiker, der seit mehreren Jahren aktiv ist, seit neuestem aber die Temporary Hands als instrumentale Unterstützung (Keyboard, Bass und Schlagzeug) ins Boot geholt hat.
Schnell war klar, dass Pankraz hier das Ruder in der Hand hält: von ihm vorgegeben werden Themen, Texte und Stimmungen der Songs. Der talentierte Sänger mit einer besonders angenehmen Stimme, die an eine Mischung aus James Blunt und Michael Bublé erinnert, hat offensichtlich eine Vorliebe für langsame, gediegene Songs. Tatsächlich waren alle zehn Nummern, die an diesem Abend von der Gruppe gespielt wurden, sehr zurückhaltend, auch wenn manchmal angekündigt wurde, dass jetzt ein schnellerer Song folgen würde. Davon merkte ich persönlich jedoch nicht viel.
Was jedoch auffiel, war, dass sich die Band fortgeschrittener Harmoniewechsel, gefühlvollen Melodien und erfrischenden rhythmischen Elementen bedient – im Grunde war das Ensemble also stimmig, jedoch ist die Musik mit ihren sachten Jazz- und Pop-Einflüssen nicht der Motivator schlechthin. Selbstverständlich ist es eine Geschmacksfrage, ich persönlich genieße diese Art von Musik eher als Hintergrundbegleitung. Die Umsetzung war in jedem Fall gut, ich hätte mir nur etwas mehr Abwechslung bezüglich Tempo und Dynamik gewünscht – etwas, das als Eröffnung des Abends mehr einheizt.
Das Publikum sah es jedoch anders: hier kamen die vielen Fans, die sich in den relativ engen Raum drängten, um genau das zu hören. Enttäuscht wurden sie nicht.

© The Painting Faces

© The Painting Faces

The Painting Faces als zweite und letzte Band des Abends wollte ich mir schon seit geraumer Zeit ansehen. Nach einigen missglückten Anläufen war es dann aber endlich so weit. Besonders gespannt war ich auf die Umsetzung der Folk-Elemente am Banjo, mit der diese Gruppe für sich wirbt.
Mit Bernhard Windbichler am Schlagzeug, Max Zamernik am Bass, Rick an Banjo und Gitarre sowie Math Paul als Sänger und Gitarrist legte die Gruppe um kurz nach 21:00 Uhr los. Das zuvor dichte Publikum verflüchtigte sich kurz vor Auftrittsbeginn zwar, erreichte gegen Ende des Sets jedoch wieder die ursprüngliche Kapazität.
Losgelegt wurde mit einem eher ruhigen Intro, gefolgt von Come As Cold As You Are – hier teilten die Mitglieder sich die Vocals, wobei Math Paul stets etwas mehr hervorstach. Dies liegt freilich an seiner einmaligen Stimme, die an Sänger wie Milow, Patrice oder Manu Chao erinnert und unheimlichen Wiedererkennungswert besitzt. Sie mag vielleicht etwas flach und krächzend klingen – aber auf eine ziemlich geile Weise! Mich hatte er auf jeden Fall damit.
Instrumental war bei The Painting Faces ein größeres Potential als bei der Vorband festzustellen. Es wurden nicht nur vielseitigere Figuren gespielt, die Instrumente wurden auch in ihrer Art und den Möglichkeiten, sie zu spielen, wesentlich mehr ausgeschöpft. Vom Banjo war ich begeistert: es wurde genau an den richtigen Stellen eingesetzt, um Akzente zu setzen, blieb jedoch nie länger als „erwünscht“.
Die ersten fünf Songs sprachen mich besonders an. Danach nahm meine Begeisterung jedoch leider etwas ab. Die anfänglich so mit individuellen Elementen bestückten Nummern wurden von solchen verdrängt, die eher an radiotauglichen Mainstream erinnerten. Das eigentümlich Rohe war nicht mehr vernehmbar. Beim zehnten Song You’re Not That Bad, der als Zugabe gespielt wurde, gab es dann allerdings zum Glück wieder einen Aufschwung im Stil des Anfangs.
Als Fazit lässt sich sagen, dass The Painting Faces auf jeden Fall eine sehens- und hörenswerte Band sind, die sich allerdings nicht in ihrem individuellen und experimentierfreudigen musikalischen Stil einschränken sollte – egal wovon.

Weitere Infos / Photo Credits:
© Raffael Pankraz & The Temporary Hands, https://soundcloud.com/raffael-pankraz
© The Painting Faces, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-SeoV_BMdxQdEFg45pVoaA

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Gig Review: Wolfmother – Gypsy Caravan Tour, 11.05.2016

Blog, Gig Review

Perfect weather, great location and tons of fans: the evening of May 11th had a promising start for the Australian rock act Wolfmother in Vienna’s Arena Open Air. I arrived only a few minutes before they started their set (the support band I unfortunatley missed beforehand was Electric Citizen).

wolfmother-victorious

© Wolfmother

To be honest, I never really got into Wolfmother that much as a fan, but I was aware of who they (or, more specifically, frontman Andrew Stockdale) are and what they do – and have always liked their sound. I was thus very excited to go to this concert without any expectations at all – which is probably the best way possible if you dig the unexpected, like I do. You just end up with lots of surprises – good and bad. So here they are:

First surprise: the band’s tempo and dynamics. Man, they played a set of twenty songs and took but three breaks (one to say hi, one to say thanks, and one before the encore), which lasted only a few seconds each.
Which leads me to the next surprise: they hardly said a word to the audience. Apparently, Stockdale is not much of a talker, but it would definitely have been his role to communicate with the fans a bit more. However, the band did not seem as if they did not enjoy themselves on stage – so even though there was no communcation, there was still a lot of energy in the performance. Which is probably what saved them from an angry crowd.
Third surprise: Alex Carapetis is a damn great drummer. In fact, the drums were the only instrument that sounded as they should all the way through the show. The others, from guitar to bass and vocals sounded horrible most of the time. That night’s horrendous sound was yet another surprise for me. I do not know who was responsible for it, but honestly I’d rather not even know at all – it was a real shame. The guitar sounded bad, the bass was too loud at times, whereas bassist Ian Peres‘ backing vocals were hardly audible at all. Well…drums and keyboard were fine, at least.
Fifth surprise: I already mentioned that Wolfmother have a cool sound. Main reason behind that is Andrew Stockdale, who is basically the brain behind this music project. The other musicians are rather professionals hired to play along. Big part of the sound, however, is Stockdale’s special voice, which mostly reminds one of Jack White’s. What I did not know, though, was that besides its cool and bright timbre it is pretty monotonous, too. I haven’t heard Stockdale sing much more than five notes during that show. It’s not like he tries and fails – the songs are just composed that way, without exciting melodic vocal lines. And they are fine like that, just a bit monotonous after a while.

To summarize all of that, I was most impressed by their efficient way of performing, playing one song after the next without even considering taking a break. This is naturally the most professional way to play a gig and shows that the band is really tight and knows what’s going on. On the other hand, there is not much space left for interaction with the audience or spontaneous improvisation on stage. Still, they played well, and the bad sound was not their fault.

So all in all I did enjoy this gig, and I am glad to have seen Wolfmother live. They do make cool music that definitely comes from the right sort of inspiration and surely inspire tons of young garage rock bands, which is exactly what today’s music needs.

More information / photo credits:
© Wolfmother, wolfmother.com

Gig Review: Chris Cornell – Higher Truth Tour, 12.04.2016

Blog, Gig Review

In course of the Higher Truth Tour, Chris Cornell made a stop in Vienna’s legendary Konzerthaus on April 12th.

© Fantastic Negrito

© Fantastic Negrito

The support act, Fantastic Negrito, started his set right at 8pm. Fantastic Negrito is a blues musician from California who started his career on the streets, where he was „sitting (…) playing for change a year and a half ago“. No wonder he now enjoys big success, though: the outstanding vocal ability, paired with his guitar skills left me absolutely amazed within only a few minutes. His voice has a really special dual quality: it is full of pressure, while still keeping a very bright timbre; it is extremely melodical but yet very firm and steady. The singer was supported by a very talented piano player. And, as Chris Cornell pointed out later that evening, he admires the unique artist a great deal – very righteously so!

© Chris Cornell

© Chris Cornell

The main act commenced his set one hour later, at 9pm. In total, Chris Cornell played no less than 27 (!) songs that night, his voice accompanied only by his guitar and, for some songs, multi-instrumentalist Bryan Gibson on cello, banjo, or other.
The almost 3-hour gig started with Before We Disappear from the new Higher Truth album, which was released in September 2015 and is also name of the current tour.
It is thus quite strange that Chris Cornell only played four songs from his latest release (Before We Disappear, Higher Truth, Josephine, Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart). The evening mainly consisted of covers – which was something I had not expected. Of course, songs from his Soundgarden, Audioslave or Temple of the Dog times (such as Rusty Cage, Black Hole Sun, Doesn’t Remind Me, I Am the Highway, Wooden Jesus, Hunger Strike and others) are not strictly covers – but titles like Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan), Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young), One (U2 / Metallica medley) or A Day In the Life (The Beatles) certainly are. Even though he performed each song in a very personal and catchy way, I think he went a bit too far with the quantity of the covers.
Also, the whole set was mostly held in the same style: ballads, ballads and more ballads! He seemed as if he could not get enough of the slow, emotional songs – and he did – without a doubt – sing and play them perfectly, but after two hours I was truly hungry for change.
But I guess this is the style Chris Cornell has found for himself and the path he will continue to perceive. And there is nothing wrong with that, which becomes more than clear when he sings his lyrics and the whole concert hall gets filled up with his voice which completely enfolds you and lets time stop for a moment. He is definitely a great vocalist, and one with the widest vocal range amongst the modern popular artists. But I did miss the harder and louder Soundgarden stuff – I probably had the wrong expectations.

One of the last songs in the encore was a cover of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, who recently died on April 21st. As if Chris Cornell anticipated the artist’s near death, he paid moving tribute to what was one of the most intriguing musicians since the 1980s.

I want to use this moment to commemorate all the fantastic musicians who have left (and will leave) us, not only in 2016 like David Bowie, Lemmy, Prince and more, but any time. May all of them rest in peace and proudly look back on millions of fans whose lives they have enriched with their music.

 

 

Further information / photo credits:
© Chris Cornell, http://www.chriscornell.com
© Fantastic Negrito, http://www.fantasticnegrito.com