Gig Review: Deuce – A Tribute to Rory Gallagher, 02.03.2017

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To honour the Irish music legend Rory Gallagher, Deuce played a tribute show on his birthday at Arthur’s in Dublin’s Liberties.

Deuce obviously got their name from Rory’s second solo album from 1971. The trio from Kildare (vocals + guitar, bass, drums) met at the annual Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon (Rory’s hometown) in the West of Ireland in 2012. After the festival they decided to form a dedicated tribute band and bring their late idol’s music onto stage.

The gig started at 9pm, and Arthur’s proved to be the perfect location for the event – good sound, a great atmosphere and decent Guinness. The band opened with Shinkicker, and soon played on of the setlist’s highlights: Laundromat.
Generally, the setlist was a healthy mix of early and late Rory songs, from Hands Off to Bought & Sold, and included all the favourites, such as Tattoo’d Lady, Bad Penny, Shadow Play, I Fall Apart, and Philby.
The audience was in a great mood, especially when Deuce played Moonchild – the venue filled up by the minute.

The band members work together well, whereas the bass was, in fact, a bit more solid than the drums. The singer has obviously put a lot of effort into getting as close as possible to Rory’s unique style of singing and intonation, and has definitely managed to acquire the right timbre for pulling off a great show. Considering that Rory Gallagher was one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he did a good job on the instrumental part.
The performance wasn’t perfect – but the creative twist that Deuce added to the songs was highly enjoyable. It is always nice to see tribute bands that stay true to their idol, while at the same time adopting an individual approach. Surely this is something which proves to be rewarding for the band in terms of artistic development.
One of their last songs was Philby – arguably one of the coolest Rory songs, and one I was also very much looking forward to. It was thus a bit irritating when the verses got mixed up and the chosen tempo was decidedly too fast. When I talked to the frontman about it later, he laughed and confessed to hoping nobody would notice. I told him it didn’t matter and congratulated him on a great show, because that’s what it was. It is just lovely to see that even when a great artist dies, his music continues to live on. And in fact, it was the first time ever for me to have heard Rory’s songs being played live. And it was so worth it.

 

More information / photo credits:
https://www.facebook.com/deucerorytribute
http://www.rorygallagherfestival.com/

 

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Gig Review: The Who – 50 Years Tour, 14.09.2016

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© Slydigs

© Slydigs

Slydigs supported the main act that evening. The band formed in Warrington, UK, and in terms of sound mixes a lot of what seem to be their personal icons – such as The Beatles, U2, Oasis and naturally enough The Who. The four members Dean Fairhurst (vocals, rhythm guitar), Louis Menguy (lead guitar, backing vocals), Peter Fleming (drums) and Ben Breslin (bass, backing vocals) work well together, to me Louis Menguy, though, seemed the most promising of the four. Interestingly enough, frontman Dean Fairhurst did not leave a very good impression. Firstly, he looked extremely annoyed, sometimes even sorry to be there. Secondly, he doesn’t have a bad voice, but the backing vocals actually sounded better than his own. Maybe he really had a bad day. And even though Slydigs have some cool songs, especially The Truth Will Be Found and Catch A Fading Light, they didn’t quite manage to convince the audience with their blues rock.

© The Who

© The Who

One of England’s most iconic rock bands are without doubt The Who. The band who started its musical career in 1964 with Roger Daltrey (vocals), Pete Townshend (guitar), John Entwistle (bass) and Keith Moon (drums) propelled themselves to immense success as one of the loudest bands in rock history.

After the passings of Moon (1978) and Entwistle (2002), Daltrey and Townshend are the only founding members left in the band. They are currently on their 50 Years Tour, securing instrumental support from several fellow musicians: Simon Townshend (guitar, backing vocals), Pino Palladino (bass), Zak Starkey (drums), Loren Gold (keys, backing vocals), John Corey (keys, backing vocals) and Frank Simes (keys, backing vocals), who have all been associated with The Who for many years. That night they played Vienna’s Stadthalle.

“Wie geht’s wie geht’s wie geht’s?! (How are you?!)“ screamed Roger Daltrey, greeting the audience. And Townshend answered: “Es geht gut. Alt, aber gut. (Fine. Old, but fine.)”

They started the concert with one of the many classics: Who Are You. After that, they played a few songs from the sixties, such as The Kids Are Alright, I Can See For Miles and My Generation. Within the set there were some rarer songs, too – I personally enjoyed the instrumental The Rock very much, but the video wall sure added to that with great montages all the way through. Most songs were from the albums Tommy and Quadrophenia, arguably their most important releases.

Of course it did not look and sound like in the old times – Roger Daltrey’s voice is too weak for that now. He seemed tired, sometimes even hit very wrong notes. But both band and audience seemed very nostalgic, and they did manage to secure this touching ambience, not only by their signature stage moves such as Townshend’s windmill and Daltrey’s microphone lasso.

In the end, one might say audience applauded The Who’s general acquisition throughout fifty years, rather than their interpretation of it that very evening, as Townshend confirmed: “I wrote these songs when I was a little boy. So you are applauding my little boy now.“ But isn’t that just lovely?

Gig Review: Robert Plant & The Sensational Spaceshifters, 28.07.2016

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It was Thursday, July 28th, that I got to see who is in my mind one of the greatest rock singers of all time: Robert Plant.
Famous as Led Zeppelin-frontman from 1968-80, the artist is currently touring Europe world with his Sensational Space Shifters, with whom he also recorded his latest studio album Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar (review here).

Just in time for the start of the main act, I arrived at the well-filled Arena Wien and found a great spot on the lawn near the stage with excellent view. Just as good as the view was the sound that night, which was lengths better than of Wolfmother’s concert at the same location (review here).

At about 21:00 pm, Robert Plant emerged with a huge banner carrying the feather-symbol in the background. He himself on vocals and diverse membranophones, he brought five other musicians with him: Juldeh Camara on nyanyeru (an African one-string fiddle), Liam “Skin“ Tyson on guitar, Justin Adams on bass, John Baggot on keys and Dave Smith on drums.
What’s known is the different musical approach of the ensemble (compared to Plant’s earlier times). Not focusing on one specific genre, the artists freely mix styles and rhythms. The result is a colourful medley with folk and country elements as well as foreign African sounds paired with Led Zeppelin classics and the well-known mighty riffs.

This diversity lead to an interesting set list that included Poor Howard, Rainbow and Turn It Up from Lullaby and… The Ceaseless Roar, a cover of Willie Dixon (Spoonful), the traditional Little Maggie, and lots of Led Zeppelin medleys that included (parts of) What Is and What Should Never Be, No Quarter, Dazed and Confused, Whole Lotta Love, Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You and Rock and Roll for the encore.

The band not only convinced the audience by its versatility and range of styles, but also by the quality of performance. Robert Plant still has that great voice of his and a very individual approach on singing that one recognizes immediately. Furthermore he really secured a great atmosphere by continually including the audience and performing with lots of energy.

This concert meant a great deal to me – and without any exaggeration: it was truly sensational.

 

More information / photo credits:
© Robert Plant http://www.robertplant.com

Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 09.07.2016

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This year’s Lovely Days Festival took place in Schlosspark Eisenstadt, Austria. For the first time the festival managers decided to choose a new location instead of the very popular Wiesen – a good decision, the ambience was fantastic!

This was the line-up:

Ten Years After
The Sweet
Mother’s Finest
Seiler & Speer
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson
Deep Purple

The excitement was tremendous – as were the expectations.

Ten Years After, a band that played Woodstock and could arguably be called a historical group, was formed in 1967 by Leo Lyons (bass) and Alvin Lee (guitar, vocals). Now, the frontman is the much younger Marcus Bonfanti (guitar, vocals, harmonica) and he is doing a great job. Not only is he a capable guitarist, his voice is just mind-blowing! Only thing was that the other, well, older band members seemed and sounded quite tired indeed. Ric Lee’s drumming especially was pretty loose. But apart from that, Ten Years After served the crowd some fine blues rock with a great young singer.

Next in line were The Sweet – what an iconic band! Who does not know their glam rock hits Fox On The Run or Teenage Rampage? As if on purpose, their performance was quite the opposite of Ten Years After: better drumming, weaker vocals! To be honest, it was  hard concentrating on the music since it lacked energy. It seems their era is likely coming to an end.

The low point of the day for me were Mother’s Finest. The funk-rock-soul-crossover band consisting of six members, including the female singer Joyce Kennedy, who did most of the main vocals, was the weakest group considering musical ability. The singer’s voice does have power and good quality, she just did not use it adequately and thus sounded somewhat hysterical most of the time, which was not exactly pleasant listening to. What was worse though, was the guitar performance by Gary Moore (how wrong it sounds saying that…but the guy’s name really is Gary Moore!). Admittedly I do not know whether he is always on such a low level or if he just had a bad day – but this was more Guitar Hero above anything else.

Followed by Seiler & Speer, a momentary hit-wonder in and from Austria, did not exactly enhance my mood. I felt like on Oktoberfest or the like. Anyway, I found that they were actually quite alright. The vocals were fine and so were the musicians, but the best thing was is that they were really sympathetic and motivated the crowd. Righteously they also made sure to mention that they feel very out of place on a rock festival like that one, but honestly thanked everybody for supporting them, which was really nice.

Finally, the acts that I actually came for were about to start. First off was Ian Anderson – a total favourite of mine. Being a huge Jethro Tull fan (the first band that enters my mind when hearing the term “prog”) and listenting to the records up and down for years on end, I could not believe I was going to see this legend live on stage. It was a cool concert, he played songs like My God, Songs from the Wood, a few tunes from the 16th century and naturally the classics such as Thick as a Brick, Aqualung (god, what an album!) and Locomotive Breath. Strange thing was, though, that the concert was at its best in the beginning but gradually decreasing in terms of voice quality. This might have to do with his age, but it might also be the fact that he just does not dig his own hits anymore (Locomotive Breath was the Jethro Tull encore since 1972…imagine that!) and therefore wants to add a slight change to them at every gig. „Slight change“ meaning he just sung it differently than on the record – in the end he did not even really sing anymore, it was rather more of a whining on every syllable. I cherish improvisation, but it just did not sound good. Overall it was a good performance though, especially in terms of instrumental quality.

The festival’s headliner, Deep Purple, was naturally arousing the most excitement that night. The crowd was expecting hard rock hymns by one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time. Well, that’s what the crowd got, starting off with Highway Star. Knowing that Ian Gillan’s voice is not comparable anymore to his younger days, and the fact of Highway Star being a very difficult song lyrically and melodically, that song didn’t turn out all too well.  But I was prepared for that and looked forward to what came next. Funny thing was that again the performance was the opposite to the act before. Now, the concert got better and better toward the end regarding Ian Gillan’s vocals. Instrumentally both bands were flawless. They naturally played the classics: Strange Kind of Woman, Black Night, Smoke on the Water and Hush for the encore.

To sum it up: three out of six acts were really cool. Ten Years After surprised me because of the very good singer, Ian Anderson and Deep Purple were partially exactly how I hoped they would be, and partially they didn’t fulfill my expectations. The main point here being that age always takes its toll, and that an era of legends is definitely coming to an end – you can feel it more than ever now. So just make the most of it and use every chance you get to see your legends – I’m glad I did.

Photo Credits:

© Lovely Days Festival

Gig Review: Chris Cornell – Higher Truth Tour, 12.04.2016

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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

Gig Review: Wishbone Ash, 11.02.2016

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© Wishbone Ash

© Wishbone Ash

 

In course of their „ROAD WARRIOR“ tour, Wishbone Ash did a show at Vienna’s Reigen on the evening of february 11th. The location was perfect for the event, regarding not only capacity and ambience, but also its great sound quality. The people in the audience were mostly, well, about 50 years old – which is of course not surprising, considering the band was founded in 1969. I am still glad, though, that there were a few young people, too – such a shame to miss out on a group like this one!

Wishbone Ash – a British band who counts its 45th year, are now on the road in a group of four, with Andy Powell (guitar, vocals) being the only founding member left. Like so many other great rock bands, Wishbone Ash has undergone lots of changes considering band members. The momentary line-up is completed by Bob Skeat (bass, backing vocals), Muddy Manninen (guitar, backing vocals) and the fairly young Joe Crabtree (drums).

After opening the show with The Power of Eternity, they presented some material from their latest and 25th studio album Blue Horizon, which was released in february 2014. They selected the tracks Deep Blues and Way Down South. The most songs, however, were from their third album Argus: Sometime World, Throw Down the Sword, Blowin’ Free and Warrior (one of their greatest, to be sure).
Furthermore, they played evergreens such as Open Road, Front Page News, Rock ‘n‘ Roll Widow, The Pilgrim, Heavy Weather and Living Proof.

The crucial thing about Wishbone Ash’s sound are the twin guitars, the band itself listing Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden (among others) as musical influence. As simple as the idea of simultaneously playing one and the same tune on two guitars may seem: it is not that easy, especially if supposed to have significant stylistic effects. It has to be done with perfect accuracy – or else it is bound to be most irritating for any listener. On that account it is only right to say that Wishbone Ash have perfected this style for their music. How the two guitarists completed each other’s playing during differing parts, however, is probably even more impressive. It was like two instruments having this really unique sort of dialogue where both parties understand what the other wants to say – and not say – at all times. While I had the impression that Powell played more of the solos, Manninen was sure to impress the audience with his glissandi skills (with and without bottleneck). I was no less convinced by bassist Bob Skeat, who played the craziest parts with such ease, constantly smiling, as if he was merely having his morning coffee on a free day. The critical point for me were the drums, which were pretty lax the whole time – I think Joe Crabtree should put a lot more energy and force into his performance.

As last song of the encore they played Phoenix, a ten-minute instrumental track. It was a truly great concert, everything was right: the mood, the band, the audience. The only disappointment for me was that they did not play my favourite song: Helpless. I am afraid that will have to wait until next time.

Further information / photo credits:
© http://wishboneash.com

Gig Review: Whitesnake – The Purple Tour, 19.11.2015

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The concert started right on time at 8 pm at Vienna’s Planet.tt Gasometer.

Daisies-Header-Logo
The Dead Daisies, an Australian band I admittedly had not heard of before, came in support of the main act, promoting their latest album Revolución.
Judging by the logo, I thought they were up to play some punk music, but what they actually – and rather logically – did was hard rock. Generally, The Dead Daisies are a highly professional musical collective, with lots of musicians linked to bands such as Guns N‘ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Thin Lizzy and many more. So as the lights went off, they were announced by Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love guitar riff, fused with Black Sabbath’s War Pigs lyrics.
This time, they came in a pack of six: singer John Corabi (who also sang in Mötley Crüe) was vocally backed by lead guitarist Richard Fortus (who looks frighteningly similar to Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones), an incredibly friendly-looking rhythm guitarist whose name I was not yet able to find out (it was not David Lowy), bassist Marco Mendoza and keyboardist Dizzy Reed. Last but not least there was the insane drummer Brian Tichy, frequently throwing up his drumsticks metres high into the air – catching them again a few seconds later (most of the times, anyway).
They opened their set with Midnight Moses and continued with songs such as Evil, Mexico or Lock’n’Load. In the end, they finished off by covering The BeatlesHelter Skelter…which was of course harder than the original version.
The Dead Daisies are a band that’s really got it together, showing energy and fun while performing, and were thus an ideal motivator for the audience for what was to come up next: Whitesnake.

whitesnake_bandThis time, the announcement’s Led Zeppelin-riff was fused with James Brown’s Sexmachine – indeed an interesting combination.
Having released their latest „Purple Album“ (a compilation of the three Deep Purple albums from the time when David Coverdale was their singer) on May 15th this year, Whitesnake are currently on Purple Tour through Europe.
It is thus self-explaining that there were no new songs to be heard that night. So Whitesnake took a pretty safe path playing all their own evergreens (e.g. Love Ain’t No Stranger, Fool for Your Loving, Here I Go Again and Still of the Night in the encore), but mainly Deep Purple’s old hits, such as Burn, The Gypsy, Mistreated, You Keep On Moving, You Fool No One as well as Soldier of Fortune (played with only one acoustic guitar, or, as Coverdale called it: „a nice piece of wood“), which was the part of the evening where I truly had to hold back by tears, considering this song to be one of my absolute favourites of all bands – all time.
Coverdale certainly is one of the best singers within the hard rock (and partly hair metal) genre, which he proved once again. Even though I would have hoped for a few more of the slower songs, since those are also a strength of his, in contrast to his falsettos and rough parts.

Like on every great and legendary rock concert, you can be sure of hearing extended solos in the form of one-man-shows with nobody else on stage. So, first came guitarist Reb Beach, followed by guitarist Joel Hoekstra, who were „competing“ for the better solo; then came drummer Tommy Aldridge, who first went crazy with his drumsticks, only to throw them into the audience a few minutes later and continue playing without them, banging the drums with his bare hands – amazing! It wasn’t exactly an outstanding solo, I’ve heard more interesting ones, but the way he played it was something I hadn’t seen before. Special credits go to his steady double bass which was flawless even while standing.
The other touring musicians are the Italian Michele Luppi on keys and the rather young (and vocally very talented) bassist Michael Devin.

The atmosphere and musicians‘ vibes of this gig reminded me very much of the AC/DC gig in May: old but gold rockers who know they have achieved everything, yet happily continue doing what they love so much – just for the hell of it…always with a smile on their lips and a bit of madness in their eyes.
Raising awareness of the current happenings around the world, Mr. Coverdale chose the words for that night’s goodbye as follows: „Thank you for having the courage to come here, Vienna; be safe and happy and don’t let anyone make you afraid!“


Further information / photo credits:

http://thedeaddaisies.com (The Dead Daisies) ©
http://whitesnake.com (Whitesnake) ©

Gig Review: John Mayall, 28.10.2015

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Going to this gig was a true impulse action, since it would be inadequate calling myself a John Mayall-fan. Knowing his impact on British Blues, however, I did not want to miss out the opportunity to see a musician who had so much influence on the development of a whole genre.

John Mayall, or „The Godfather of British Blues“, as he is often referred to, began publishing blues music with his Bluesbreakers in the early 1960s and has since had lots of projects with musicians such as Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (who later left to form Cream) or Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood (who became Fleetwood Mac), as well as Mick Taylor who joined the Rolling Stones. It is thus obvious that this man is a talent one should not miss out on seeing.

So there we were, my brother and me, standing somewhat in the middle of the crowd at Porgy&Bess in Vienna. And to make things official: I shall not go to a sold-out concert there ever again. The heat was unbearable, the air unbreathable. Moreover, we had to wait ages before we were even able to get into the club, and then the staff forced us to hand over our jackets – a thing I rarely do when going to a concert. I was thus quite displeased with the location, even though it does have a nice ambience.

But now to the music. There were some things about John Mayall and his group (Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums) that did impress me, such as Mayall switching back and forth between guitar, harmonica and keys while singing the entire set by himself – which does include the risk of hitting a few wrong keys not even Mayall was immune to. The drummer was fantastic, and the bassist had some impressing tricks which he showed off during his solo towards the end of the show. I was also convinced by the strength and quality of Mayall’s voice.

The guitarist, however, left a rather meek impression on me. Generally, the setlist and song arrangements were – sadly – quite boring. When going to a blues concert, what I expect to hear are pain and agony – which is mainly what the Blues is about. But Mayall and band seemed to find it more fitting to play mainly happy clap-along songs. Is it because that is what the audience craves? I, personally, was quite disappointed. Within the two-hour set there were only two or three „deeper“ songs, including Dirty Water and Stormy Monday, which were the two highlights of the evening. During Stormy Monday was the only time I felt goosebumps (or rather bluesbumps, as I now find to be the more fitting term) – which, for a true blues gig, is simply not enough.
It is not as though Mayall does not have tons of songs like that in his repertoire – he just did not play them. And the question remains: why?

Comparing Mayall to Eric Burdon – another blues legend – whom I saw in summer at the Lovely Days Festival 2015, my expectations were definitely not fulfilled. I cannot be mad with the man though. He did really put his energy into the show and had such a warm and welcoming attitude – maybe the next concert will be at a better time, at a better venue, with a more exciting setlist.

 

Film Review: „Janis: Little Girl Blue“

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Amy J. Bergs Dokumentation aus 2015 über die Blueslegende Janis Joplin wird im Rahmen der diesjährigen Viennale (Vienna International Film Festival) zweimal im Gartenbaukino ausgestrahlt, der erste Termin war der 25. Oktober um 23 Uhr in Anwesenheit der Regisseurin. Diese gab bekannt, dass die Fertigstellung des Films sieben Jahre in Anspruch nahm. Die Frage, was sie dazu bewegte, einen Film über Janis Joplin zu drehen, beantwortete sie damit, dass sie fasziniert von der Gegensätzlichkeit der Sängerin war, die nach außen hin stark und unbesiegbar wirkte, innen jedoch enorm zerbrechlich blieb.

In der Tat muss ich vorweg sagen, dass ich nach den beiden letzten Musikerdokus „Cobain: Montage of Heck“ und „Amy: The Girl Behind The Name“, die beide in meinen Augen zu wenig auf die Musik eingingen, durchaus überzeugt von Amy Bergs Film bin.
Auch hier wird chronologisch vorgegangen, Hauptinhalt des Films bilden Interviewausschnitte einer Bandbreite wichtiger Personen (darunter Familie, Freunde, ehemalige Bandkollegen, u.a.). Erzählerisch zusammengehalten wird die Doku durch Chan Marshall, einer amerikanischen Singer-Songwriterin, die ausgesuchte Briefe vertont, die Janis im Laufe der Jahre an ihre Familie schrieb. Obwohl Marshall keine schlechte Wahl war, um Joplin zu vertonen, war ich persönlich von der Stimme nicht ganz überzeugt, in meinen Augen war sie etwas zu kraftlos. Das aber nur am Rande.

Die Erzählung ist in sich schlüssig, die ausgewählten Schwerpunkte machen Sinn und als Zuseher kann man dem Film leicht folgen. Besonders interessant ist natürlich Material, welches ansonsten nicht zugänglich ist, wie die erwähnten Briefe, Notizbücher, Fotos, aber auch weniger bekannte Live-Aufnahmen. Generell wird versucht, viele Songs unterzubringen, allesamt aus dem Joplin-Repertoire. Allerdings wird nur kurz darauf eingegangen, dass Joplin auch selbst die ein oder anderen Texte schrieb. Musikanalytisch wird nicht wirklich vorgegangen, der Fokus liegt definitiv auf dem Versuch einer Persönlichkeits-Entschlüsselung. Dieser erfolgt jedoch sehr respektvoll und nicht wertend, was bei anderen Filmen leider viel zu oft der Fall ist.

Interessant ist vor allem ein Videoausschnitt aus dem Studio während der Aufnahme von Summertime. Hier bekommt man Einsicht darin, wie solche Sessions gestaltet waren und wo potentielle Streitpunkte bestanden. Auch beginnt man, zu verstehen, was Joplin an (ihrer) Musik wichtig war, wie sie arbeitete, dass sie individuelle künstlerische Konzepte verfolgte und genau wusste, wie ein fertiger Song klingen soll. Dies zog sich über die Jahre hindurch, sei es an der Seite der Big Brother Holding Company oder der späteren Kozmic Blues Band.

Eine Frage, die sich mir allerdings stellt: weshalb benennt man den Film nach einem Song, der nicht von der Künstlerin selbst stammt? Little Girl Blue ist eigentlich ein Nina Simone Cover, woraus auch nie ein Geheimnis gemacht wurde. Noch dazu endet der Film mit genau diesem Song – in meinen Augen eine schlechte Wahl, wenngleich Joplins Interpretation großartig ist. Ihr Farewell Song hätte es zum Abschluss aber auch getan – und das sogar besser.

Abgesehen von dieser Unklarheit kann ich diesen Film wirklich nur wärmstens empfehlen – nicht zuletzt deshalb, weil es seither in keinster Weise eine vergleichbare Musikerin gab.

Gig Review: David Gilmour – Rattle That Lock Tour, 12.09.2015

Blog, Gig Review

It was in this year’s April that I managed to purchase tickets for this concert. The plan actually was to combine the concert in Verona, scheduled for 14.09. with my holiday in Italy. Due to immense demand, these tickets were sold out completely in less than a minute, while I was hopelessly trying my luck online. Not accepting this defeat, plans were re-scheduled, and tickets for the gig a few days earlier in Pula, Croatia, were bought.

Needless to say that David Gilmour naturally only picked out the very finest locations and venues (if one may still call it that). The European tour included six stops, starting in Pula, continuing in Verona, Florence, Orange and Oberhausen and finishing with several gigs in London’s Royal Albert Hall, where countless legendary musicians have had (or given) the honour to play. The North American Tour is supposed to follow in 2016.

The concert took place in the historical Arena of Pula, a well preserved Roman amphitheatre and a stunning monument of times long gone by. Adding to this outer ambience, the light technicians of the show, as well as the huge round screen with countless animations and videos – a part of every Pink Floyd (or in this case David Gilmour) concert – completed the atmosphere of the gig, making the evening a real spectacle. The only problem was a quite serious lack of organisation concerning the Croatian hosts. Not being able to find our seats (nobody from the staff could tell us where they were) we had to sit on the Arena’s floor for the first half of the concert. In the announced twenty-minute-break, we finally managed to get our seats. Sitting on the floor, however, did have one huge advantage: we were extremely close to Gilmour. As a ’normal’ part of the audience, you really could not get to him any closer than that, and the sound in the Arena was great.

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Before reviewing the protagonist’s performance, however, a word or two should be said about the other musicians involved. There were a drummer, an acoustic guitarist, a bassist, a keyboard player, a man who played – as it seemed – almost every brass instrument there is, as well as one female and one male background singer. Without a doubt all of them were professionals, delivering high musical quality all the way through. I was especially thrilled with the male backing voice (the female rather went down in comparison) and the brass instrument player, who once had to switch a huge saxophone with one of less size within only a few seconds during a song. He managed, being really only a few hundredths of a second late, which, I am sure, not many people noticed at all. Mr. Gilmour did, though.

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It is thus merely from the outside that the maestro has aged. His musical abilities are astonishing, just like in Pink Floyd’s best days. Presenting his one-and-only David Gilmour guitar sound with ease and having a very unique voice, which already had quite a mature timbre to it in his earlier days, he yet again manages to keep his standards and fulfill his fans’ expectations. Gilmour pleased a lot of people with his choice of songs for the setlist, including all-time-hits such as Time, Money, Wish You Were Here, Shine On You Crazy Diamond, High Hopes, and many others. From the new album Rattle That Lock (Gilmour’s fourth solo album, which the tour is named after) he played the 5am and the title track as the opener to the evening, as well as The Girl in the Yellow Dress, which was a personal highlight for me, and four other new songs. Toward the end of the evening Gilmour mentioned the album and its publishing delay. He did not, however, explain what caused the delay, but instead announced it would be out soon…and so it was published on 18.09.

Even though I dislike saying it – these might be Gilmour’s last album and tour(s). The music is definitely worth listening to and I even more recommend to go ahead and be part of one of the tours’ stops – I am damn glad I have been!

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Photo credits:

© David Gilmour
© RIFF SHIFT

Festival Review: Lovely Days Festival, 04.07.2015

Blog, Festival Review

The Doors Alive
Nazareth
Uriah Heep
Jimmy Cliff
Status Quo
Eric Burdon & The Animals

Reading such a lovely Line-Up, one simply couldn’t not go to 2015’s Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria.

The festival area of Wiesen is quite a small one, with only one stage, one food-tent, one sanitary station. But exactly its size makes it so comfortable and intimate. The thing about this festival especially is that people do actually go there because of the music. There was no fighting, no mayhem; it was all truly peaceful. Certainly, one of the reasons for this was the average age of about 40 of most of the 40.000 visitors, but this is hardly an important factor. What constitutes a good festival is – as always – the music.

The first band to take the stage was The Doors Alive, not hard to guess: a The Doors–tribute band. They opened their set with Light My Fire, rolling on from one hit to the next, including Touch Me, Roadhouse Blues, Break On Through, Riders On the Storm, and many more. They closed the set with The End, and in some moments I could have sworn it was Jim Morrison singing. They copied their role models fantastically, obviously being highly trained musicians, with a great keyboard player. As the singer told the audience, it was the first time for them to perform in Austria. Maybe that was the reason for them being a little, well, quiet. The frontman hardly said a word, the performance was not energetic at all. For a live concert, this was a bit too phlegmatic, but the musical quality was without a doubt very high.

Next came Nazareth – a band I was very excited to see. Being from Scotland the band announced their performance with nostalgic bagpipe-playing. Then the four guys came on stage, with bassist Pete Agnew being the only original member. The new singer, Carl Sentance, joined in 2015. Nazareth would have completely rocked the audience’s heads off, hadn’t it been for their boring guitarist Jimmy Murrison. Naturally he plays the guitar well, but he was so lazy and undynamical, there was no tightness in his playing at all. This immediately reduced the whole band’s performance, which is really unfortunate, since the singer did a truly great job with his powerful voice and its range.

Having already seen Uriah Heep in Vienna last November (review here) I had high expectations regarding this band. Sadly, I was really disappointed in comparison to the last gig. Singer Bernie Shaw was not at his best, honestly the whole band seemed really ’down’. One might guess the reason for this lack of energy is their extensive touring over the last months, with a show almost every day, traveling around, doing the same thing over and over again. The setlist this time was exactly the same as in Vienna, the bits and speeches in between the songs were exactly the same, too. Knowing how good Uriah Heep actually are, it was far more disappointing to see them hitting rock bottom.

Famous Jamaican reggae artist Jimmy Cliff instantly brought a change of atmosphere. To his all-time-hits I Can See Cleary Now, You Can Get It If You Really Want, Wonderful World, Beautiful People etc. the whole audience wouldn’t stop dancing, everybody seemed so happy. And this was again the reminder of what music is supposed to do, when it comes down to the very core. Jimmy Cliff managed to put a smile one everyone’s face with a few simple tunes played and sung perfectly.

To Status Quo I honestly cannot say much – they were the band I put the least interest in before as well as during the festival. Somehow I just never really liked them – the songs, the tunes, for me there is simply too little going on. Certainly they were the highlight for a lot of people in the audience, though, and judging by only the few things I know and the few things I’ve seen that day, I think they satisfied their fans. I was not touched by their performance at all, though.

Finally Eric Burdon, my actual reason for buying a ticket to this festival, came on stage. And if there is one thing to be said: this old English man has still got it. Singing about Bo Diddley and spilt wine he proved to still have the Blues. He has become old, and his voice definitely has changed to a darker and deeper timbre, but in some moments he sounded just like on his old records. After only a few tunes it was clear that a legend is up on stage – somebody who is officially one of the greatest singers of all time. He proved very energetic, his voice strong. Approaching the end of the set, though, I think he did get a little tired. This great show, naturally including The Animals and War hits like Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, House of the Rising Sun, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, only lacked one song I wished for: As the Years Go Passing By.

Looking back, it really was a very Lovely Day.

Photo credits:

© Lovely Days Festival

Gig Review: AC/DC – Rock Or Bust World Tour, 14.05.2015

Blog, Gig Review

It was the largest gig played in Austria – ever. And with approximately 115.000 fans attending, the event actually felt like a huge festival rather than a concert evening.
The massive amount of visitors was not surprising though – AC/DC are one of the few legends left to be seen on stage. And they did not fail to impress.

The show started quite on time on a nice and warm spring evening in Spielberg. The first song was Rock Or Bust from their same-titled album released in November 2014. From the beginning on the band played tight and fast – no warm up needed. Brian Johnson and his 68-year-old voice are as fit as ever, same counts for lead guitarist Angus Young and his Gibson. Sadly, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young had to retire from AC/DC after being diagnosed with dementia last year as well as fighting heart and lung issues. In his stead nephew Stevie Young plays the rhythm guitar now – according to bassist Cliff Williams „an obvious choice (…) a good fit“. On the drums they now have Chris Slade who played as guest with AC/DC in the 90s, replacing Phil Rudd who is currently fighting charges of drug possession and threatening to kill.

The Australian musicians performed a Greatest-Hits-Show, along with a few bits and pieces from the new album such as Play Ball, giving the audience exactly what they craved. The setlist included all the most famous tracks: TNT, Hells Bells, You Shook Me All Night Long, Thunderstruck, Shoot to Thrill, Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be, Back In Black and more. At the end of Let There Be Rock Angus Young proved himself star of the evening by playing a phenomenal solo that surely inspired every guitar player in the audience. The encore with its much expected Highway To Hell and For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) reassured each and every fan that coming to this concert was the only possible choice.

What the fans got from AC/DC that night was true musical quality. There was no fussing, no extensive talking, – and no – not much communication with the audience either. That might have been one of the reasons for the pretty quiet mass of (mostly middle-aged) visitors – or maybe the venue was just too big to really build up decent noise and cheers.

Anyway, this band convinces the fans by its music, talent and endurance – and adds fantastic light shows, screen animations, canon shots and fireworks to the evening spectacle. Fact is: there are not many groups left on this planet who rock as hard as AC/DC, it was an honour seeing them live.

Photo credits:

© AC/DC

Film Review: „Cobain: Montage of Heck“

Blog, Film Review

Brett MorgensCobain: Montage of Heck“ ist die neueste Doku über Nirvana-Frontmann Kurt Cobain und wurde zum ersten Mal am 24. Jänner 2015 am Sundance Film Festival in den USA gezeigt.

Der Film ist in der Tat, wie der Titel (zu Deutsch: „Cobain: Collage (aus) der Hölle“) vermuten lässt, eine Art chronologische Bildercollage des Lebens Cobains. Benannt wurde er nach einem privaten Tonband des Musikers, welches vor einigen Monaten seinen Weg in die Medien fand.

Es wird im Film viel über Cobains Geburt und Kindheit in Aberdeen, Washington erzählt. Seine problematische Jugend wird beschrieben und schließlich auch, wie er anfing, Musik zu machen. Dabei wird zwischen animierten Comic-Zeichnungen, Kinderfotos und –videos sowie Ausschnitten und Bilder seiner Notizbücher, Tonbändern und Interviews mit Angehörigen (seiner Familie, Courtney Love, Krist Novoselic´, u.a.) gewechselt. Dabei entsteht der Eindruck, das ganze Material wurde zu einer Collage zusammengefügt.
Dafür, dass Brett Morgen sich so genau an die Chronologie gehalten hat, ist der Film doch ein ziemliches Chaos. Die vermeintliche Doku hat im Grunde wenig tatsächlichen Dokumentationscharakter – man erfährt keine wirklich wesentliche neue Information über Cobains Leben, obwohl Morgen Zugriff auf sehr intime Materialien hatte. Vermutlich auf zu viel, denn es wird versucht, im Film alles unterzubringen – jede Kritzelei aus Kurts Tagebüchern, jedes Babyfoto. Das Ganze wirkt dabei etwas überladen; gleichzeitig schade, dass beispielsweise wichtige handgeschriebene Briefe, die aufscheinen, nicht ganz gezeigt, sondern nur einzelne Phrasen oder Wörter kurz eingeblendet werden. Das geht dann schnell in eine ziemlich einseitige Richtung, oft hätte ich gerne mehr von gewissen Materialien gesehen.

Was ich außerdem vermisst habe ist ein Interview mit Dave Grohl, um nur eine wichtige Person aus Kurts Leben zu nennen. Außerdem wird kaum auf den den Spagat von Nirvana als Garagen-Trio zur weltberühmten und generationsprägenden Grunge-Band eingegangen, der Weg ist – in diesem Film – kaum nachvollziehbar. Auch über seinen Tod wird in „Cobain: Montage of Heck“ nichts erzählt, der Film endet lediglich mit einer schriftlichen Notiz seines Todestags, was das Filmerlebnis ziemlich plump enden lässt – oder wurde bewusst auf diesen essentiellen Teil verzichtet?

Nichtsdestotrotz würde ich empfehlen, den Film anzusehen, da man durchaus Material zu Gesicht bekommt, das vorher noch nie veröffentlicht wurde. Auch einige Aussagen der Angehörigen verraten durchaus persönliche Details zum Leben Cobains. Sicherlich hat Brett Morgen intensiv recherchiert und sich viele Gedanken zur künstlerischen Umsetzung des Streifens gemacht – an eine Musikerdoku habe ich dennoch höhere Erwartungen, nämlich vor allem jene, dass tatsächlich der Musiker mit der Musik als seinem kreativen Schaffen im Vordergrund steht. Dies ist aber vielleicht auch daran gescheitert, dass es genau zu diesem Punkt nur wenige Aussagen von Cobain selbst gibt – der Musiker beharrte nämlich darauf, dass man nicht über die Musik reden könne, um sie zu verstehen: man solle sie sich einfach anhören.

 

Weitere Infos / Empfehlungen:
http://cobainfilm.com

Film Review: „Jimi: All Is by My Side“

Blog, Film Review

„Jimi: All Is by My Side“ ist ein 2013 erschienenes Jimi Hendrix-Biopic, ein Spielfilm vom Regisseur John Ridley („12 Years A Slave“). Behandelt werden die Jahre 1964-1967, von der Reise des Musikers nach London bis zum Eintreffen am legendären Monterey Pop Festival.

In der Hauptrolle ist Outkast-Frontmann André Benjamin („André 3000“) keine Fehlbesetzung. Als rechtshändiger Gitarrist muss man ihm seine Bemühungen und die Leistung auf der Linkshänder-Gitarre in jedem Fall anrechnen. Dass weder er, noch irgendein anderer Gitarrist genauso spielen kann – oder glaubhaft spielen kann, so spielen zu können – wie Hendrix, ist klar, kann man aber auch nicht erwarten. Optisch passt der Schauspieler gut ins Bild, Bewegungen und Sprache sowie Stimmlage und Akzent hat er dabei größtenteils wirklich gut hinbekommen.

Hier endet allerdings die Liste der Dinge, die im Film beeindrucken. Der Regisseur dürfte sehr schleißig mit Recherche und Material umgegangen sein, es finden sich einige Szenen im Film, die nach Aussagen von Jimi Hendrix’ damaliger Freundin Kathy Etchingham so nie stattgefunden haben. Im Film wird Hendrix als gewaltvolle Person dargestellt, was er laut ihren Angaben nicht war. Dies will sie nun sogar mit der Veröffentlichung ihrer Krankengeschichte beweisen. Auch Charles R. Cross, Hendrix-Biograph, bestreitet den Wahrheitsgehalt des Filmes. Regisseur Ridley wollte den Film wohl „spannender“ machen, um mehr Zuseher in die Kinos zu locken.

Auch die Art des Filmens und das Screenplay sind eher unangenehm, es wird wild zwischen Szenen gewechselt, oft überlappen sich Dialoge, werden durch Hintergrundgeräusche übertönt oder es wird absichtlich Stumm-Modus unterlegt. Das alles ist beim Folgen des Films mehr störend als kreativ und löst wohl nur unbeabsichtigt LSD-Gefühle beim Zuseher aus.

Das größte Manko des Films ist allerdings, dass die Macher nicht die Lizenzen für Jimi Hendrix’ Musik hatten. Im Film selbst sieht und hört man also keinen einzigen eigenen Hendrix-Song. Es gibt nur anfangs Konzertausschnitte, als Jimi Hendrix noch als Jimmy James bei den Blue Flames in New York gespielt hat, ansonsten sieht man nur Jam-Sessions (z.B. mit dem jungen Eric Clapton) oder das Beatles-Cover Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band im Londoner Saville Theatre 1967, eine der wenigen guten Szenen im Film:

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Zu empfehlen ist dieser Film also nicht, mit einer Doku über Jimi Hendrix oder seiner Biographie ist man wesentlich besser bedient.


Weitere Infos / Empfehlungen:
http://classicrock.teamrock.com/news/2015-02-04/hendrix-ex-slams-movie-again (Kathy Etchingham zum Film)
http://www.newsweek.com/2014/10/24/qa-andre-3000-talks-jimi-hendrix-biopic-hints-solo-album-275480.html
(André Benjamin Interview)

Gig Review: Uriah Heep – The Outsider World Tour, 19.11.2014

Blog, Gig Review

After years and years of missing this band, it was on 19.11.2014 that I finally got to see Uriah Heep at Szene Wien. It was a tough decision, since Slash played a concert in Vienna on the same day…but I chose Uriah Heep, and was not disappointed.

Formed in London in the year of 1969, Uriah Heep is a band often referred to as one of the „Big Four“ of Hard Rock (next to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin) and a true legend.
Having sold millions of records, their latest and 24th studio album „Outsider“ was released in June 2014 and songs from it are performed on the current world tour. The album also features bassist Davey Rimmer, who joined the band after the death of former bassist Trevor Bolder, who died of cancer in 2013.

First things first: the band was definitely worth the wait. They managed not only to fulfill, but to even top all the expectations I had. Apart from  playing and performing brilliantly, they also had a great show and a good setlist. The thing that amazed me most, however, is the atmosphere they managed to create, and the strong presence they had on stage. They seemed to be so excited to be back in Vienna again, yet they radiated that certain professional calmness that only real experts can have. Their joy completely captured the audience, and none of it seemed fake.
Singer Bernie Shaw, who joined the band in 1986 after the death of original singer David Byron, is tremendously talented and has great power in his voice, which he managed to apply on every note. Apart from that, he is a great entertainer, informing the audience about the fact that this Wednesday was „not Mittwoch…just an early Friday!“.

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Bernie Shaw

Instrumentally, there is truly nothing negative that can be said about this gig, or, in fact, the band itself. Mick Box, guitarist and founding member of the band, had a permanent smile on his face and convinced not only by his skills, but also by his creative guitar tricks and crazy hand moves.

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Mick Box

Then there was Phil Lanzon on keys, who joined the band in ’86 and also proved his vocal talent. Lastly, the two „newer“ members, drummer Russell Gilbrook (2007) and left-handed bassist Davey Rimmer (2013), who make a great match and provide the best possible rhythmical basis for Uriah Heeps‘ music. I think I’ve never seen a bass with that long a neck as Davey Rimmer’s.

The band played songs from the new album „Outsider“ such as The Law and the great track The Outsider. Generally, I can truly recommend this latest album, there are great tracks on it with genuine Heep-Sound. Amongst the setlist, they also played Sunrise (a personal highlight for me) and the 10-minute Prog Rock track The Magician’s Birthday (here, Bernie Shaw let us now that they would play this extra-long song, simply because they can, and because they send all those three-minute radio songs to hell). The concert also included the world-famous hits Gypsy, Easy Livin‘ and, of course, Lady In Black, on which the audience transformed into a huge choir.

It is such a great feeling when you get to see musicians who really know what their profession is all about. And after decades of playing, they still manage to deliver such happiness on stage, which makes everybody in the audience forget the world outside for a few hours.

Cheers to this gig, cheers to Hard Rock, cheers to Uriah Heep!

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Uriah Heep

Photo credits:

© Uriah Heep
© RIFF SHIFT

Gig Review: Jack White – Lazaretto Tour, 11.11.2014

Blog, Gig Review

Not being all too thrilled with Jack White’s latest album („Lazaretto“), I did not pay very much attention to his tour dates. When I found out that he was going to come to Vienna, however, all the tickets were sold out, of course. To my luck, I found somebody who sold his ticket to me last minute.

The support, Lucius, was already playing the last songs when I entered the hall. To be honest, I was not convinced. They sounded very artificial, and I could not exactly identify the style they were trying to head at. It was something Indie-Pop-like.
It was after a few minutes that I actually saw them: two female (twins?) singers, looking identically, plus musicians, who were supposed to lead the crowd into a great rock night. But neither the band nor the audience seemed particularly interested in making that part of the show something special. Honestly: Lucius was one of those support groups that you can skip without regret.

The main act was planned to start at 21:00. After a delay of about twenty minutes, a memorable announcement was made on stage. The speaker talked of the band being happy to play in Vienna, and informed the audience about the fact that professional photographies would be taken throughout the whole concert. These would then be uploaded a.s.a.p. after the show and available for free downloading on Jack White’s website. He explained that this arrangement was made in order not to have phones pointing up from the audience the whole time, because „that thing in your hand is not nearly as good as what you can see with your eyes, and listen to with your heart.“

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A few minutes later, the curtain was drawn, revealing a simple stage-set flooded with blue light. There were no banners or animations (not even the screens beside the stage were switched on), everything was being kept simple.
Jack White, supported by four other musicians, started with a few fast rock songs. That was principally a good way to start, but the thing is that the location (Gasometer Wien) has a truly horrible sound. Jack White’s guitar, as well as the other instruments, sounded really dry. You simply did not have the sound you could have had at another location where the acoustics and technicians are better. Because of that, the songs (and soli) lost a lot of power and/or were not pleasant to listen to, and therefore tiring.

The band continued with a few Country songs, which were really great, because they made such a nice contrast to the other style(s) the guys were playing. During one song, Jack White even sat down on a piano chair (with his guitar still in hand!) and kept switching instruments back and forth. Even before the singer told the audience about it, you could already hear the influence from Nashville, the city he lives in now. At one stage, when he introduced all the band members to the audience, he explained different sounds and styles, accompanied by a solo of the musician currently presented, depending from where they originally come from.

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The band went off stage after 45 minutes, but came back to play an encore (if you can actually still call it that) that lasted almost two hours. The spirit of the band, as well as their endurance, is to be highly praised. Nevertheless: people were getting tired, and so was the band. What you saw when you looked around yourself were static, sometimes even bored faces, and a band that gradually lost its energy. Toward the end, even though it did not seem like they didn’t enjoy playing, they were simply out of fuel. Many songs sounded quite alike, or had outros that were simply too long, which was particularly tiring because of the bad sound I mentioned before. Instead of including a few more full songs, there was a lot of instrumental improvisation going on. Not that I’m not a fan of that, but in this case it was mostly dull repetition. The best songs, in my mind, were Steady, As She Goes (by The Raconteurs), Whispering Sea (a Loretta Lynn cover), and especially the White Stripes’ track My Doorbell.

Down to Seven Nation Army business: of course he played it. Of course it was the last number. Of course the audience went mad. But, honestly, it should have come before. I could not tell whether he played it just because it was expected of him, or whether he actually enjoyed it. By keeping the song short, however, and sort of „overriding“ it, not paying a lot of attention to neither vocals nor guitar, the song did not turn out to be the climax of the evening.

The thing that really did impress me, however, was the things Jack White told the audience. He started his nostalgic notions by stating how no average teenager of today could tell „what makes the sound on a record“, and listed several examples of today’s trivial artists such as Taylor SwiftKaty Perry and Lady Gaga. What he did is remember everybody in the hall what music is really about, and that most of it is going in a wrong direction.

I went out of the venue with mixed emotions that night. On the one hand I struggled with my unfulfilled expectations, while on the other I felt Jack White had really brought that sense of spirit and musical purity among the audience of what this form of art is actually and truly about. It is thus no wonder that Robert Plant has communicated the wish to record a single with Jack White (apparently Love Me, originally by The Phantom). The two musicians really make a perfect match, ideologically as well as musically.

The thing that’s left for me to say: I do not regret having gone to this show. Just by having been part of the audience, you got the feeling that Jack White actually cherished your being there, as a part of where the real stuff happens.
Hopefully he managed to also bring the same sort of inspiration to students (since he participated in a roundtable discussion on The Rise And Fall of „Paramount Records“ on October 28th at Yale University).

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Photo credits:
© Jack White Official
© RIFF SHIFT

Film Review: „Get On Up“

Blog, Film Review

Das neue James Brown Biopic feierte am 09. Oktober 2014 Premiere in Deutschland. Regisseur Tate Taylor hat mit u.a. Mick Jagger („Jagged Films“) als Produzenten und Chadwick Boseman in der Hauptrolle ein wahres Funk-Spektakel kreiert.

„The Funk don’t quit!“
So lässt sich nicht nur die Storyline des Films, sondern auch das Leben von James Brown, dem „Godfather of Soul“ beschreiben.
In prekären Verhältnissen aufgewachsen landet Brown als Jugendlicher im Gefängnis, wo er auf Musiker Bobby Byrd trifft, der sein Gesangstalent entdeckt und ihn alsbald von dort rausholt. Die beiden sind ab diesem Zeitpunkt unzertrennlich und formen Byrds bestehende Band bei einer spontanen „Stage-Invasion“ in der Pause eines Little Richard-Konzerts in die Famous Flames um. So wird aus der ehemaligen Gospelgruppe eine Funk-/Soulband mit James Brown als Frontmann.
Die Spirale des Ruhms ist nach einem Plattenvertrag bei „King Records“ nicht mehr aufzuhalten – James Brown wird zum Weltstar und einem der einflussreichsten und für sämtliche Nachfolgemusiker prägendsten Künstler. Wie bei so vielen anderen Berühmtheiten allerdings steigt auch ihm der Erfolg zu Kopf, woraufhin Brown einige Fehlentscheidungen trifft. Die Auseinandersetzung mit seinen Mitmenschen und letztlich sich selbst zieht sich als tiefgreifendes Thema durch den gesamten Film.

„If it sound good and it feel good, then it’s musical.“
Der Film folgt prinzipiell einer chronologischen Basis, springt jedoch oft zwischen Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft umher. Manchmal verliert man daher kurz die Orientierung – vor allem anfangs, wenn man noch nicht an den Aufbau gewöhnt ist. Achtet man jedoch auf die eingeblendeten Jahreszahlen, findet man sich schnell zurecht.
„Get On Up“ ist in der Tat ein Biopic – ein „biographical film“. Doku braucht man hier keine erwarten – der Film könnte auch ohne Realitätsbezug gemacht worden sein und dabei beeindrucken. Er hat eine spannende Handlung und viele Charaktere zu denen ein persönlicher Bezug hergestellt wird. Auch die Beziehungen unter den Personen selbst werden stark thematisiert, wie etwa das Verhältnis von Brown zu seiner Mutter oder seinem besten Freund Bobby Byrd.
Das Biopic wirkt mit 139 Minuten ziemlich lang – die Zeit vergeht aber wie im Flug. Eigentlich hätte der Film auch doppelt so lange ausfallen können: vieles aus Browns Leben – einige Personen, die ihn beeinflussten, oder Erfolge, die er feierte – wird gar nicht erwähnt. Wahrscheinlich ist im Format eines Films Akribie aber auch nur bis zu einem bestimmten Grad umsetzbar. Besonders großartig sind in jedem Fall die Musikszenen wie Proben, Auftritte, etc., von denen man als Zuseher und -hörer nicht genug bekommen kann. Chadwick Boseman hat die Tanzchoreographien für den Film sechs Stunden täglich trainiert und meistert bspw. den „Mashed Potato“ beinahe genau so gut wie der „echte“ James Brown. Was den Gesang betrifft: es werden zwar in den meisten (Konzert-)Szenen optimierte Originalaufzeichnungen von James Brown verwendet, ab und zu singt Boseman jedoch wirklich selbst – und das alles andere als schlecht! Von Mimik, Gestik und Sprache her hat Boseman sein Spiel im Grunde zur Perfektion gebracht.

Neben der Tatsache, dass dieser Film eine grandiose Unterhaltung darstellt, bekommt man dank ihm auch die Gelegenheit, tief in den Sound und den Stil von James Brown einzutauchen und den totalen, eigenen Groove einer ganzen Ära bedeutender Musik zu fühlen.

Ich spreche hiermit eine ganz klare Empfehlung aus, sich diesen Film anzusehen – man wird es nicht bereuen. Denn schließlich sind die im Film behandelten Genres (R’n’B, Funk und Soul) mitunter die Vorreiter so vieler anderer großartiger Stile und Künstler der (Rock’n’Roll-)Musikgeschichte, aber auch in sich selbst ein fantastisches Gesamtkunstwerk – welches man entsprechend würdigen sollte.

Weitere Infos:

http://www.getonupmovie.com („Get On Up“ Website)