captain beefheart electricity



saturday 01.11.80 AMSTERDAM holland PARADISO

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peter koops - nrc handelsblad - 3 november 1980


the way on which captain beefheart saturday night left the paradiso stage was significant. while his band kept on playing, he turned his back to the audience, gathered his attributes, took his sax under his arm and walked away - leaving the enraptured hall behind.

one and a half hour long the listener had been pulled a leg by a man who operated so completely wayward that there could be spoken of a cóncert and a shów at the same time. it wasn't the response of the audience which had to inspire him through which in the course of the evening there could have been talk of building up tension.

no, just the opposite happened. each number was isolated, got form with the help of attributes like sunglasses, hat, textbook, and his own emotional and vocal strain of course.


the american don van vliet, alias captain beefheart already takes an unique place inside the pop music for sixteen years. together with frank zappa - with whom he has collaborated a lot, by the way - and brian eno, he is part of an avant-garde which also serves as a shining example to the present generation of innovators.

to that, beefheart has managed to gain much sympathy in blues circles too. he is a lover of extremes which gets manifest in absurd lyrics as well as an autonomous vision on rhythm. the roots go back to the blues, but are torn loose and unravelled. on the principle of improvisation daring rhythmic schemes arise in which unexpected turns, deliberately wrong keys and chaos return frequently.

captain beefheart - live picture 'amsterdam, holland, paradiso' concert 011180 - nrc handelsblad 031180 - picture by lex van rossen
picture by lex van rossen


the most important instrument he has disposal of is his earthy voice which covers four and a half octaves. with that he yelps, screams and says his texts, interchanged by playing of sax, harmonica or mouth organ. besides a poet, composer and musician he also is an artist, who among other illustrates his own album sleeves.

the band that accompanies him on his current tour also can be heard on his last two elpees 'shiny beast' and 'doc at the radar station' (yes, most of them - t.t.). at the overcrowded paradiso especially that last album was featured. the group played extremely tight and succeeded to properly follow all the loops and accents of the captain.

the keen slide-guitar of jeff moris tepper and the frenetic rhythm guitar of richard snyder mapped out the lines for the excellent percussion work by robert arthur williams. eric drew feldman on bass and keyboards filled in the holes, so that a free-playing but coherent structure was created. rudimentary music with a leaning to be against the grain.


beefheart imperturbably followed his own devices, though a few times he was disturbed from his concentration by sound problems and the screaming of some other idiots in the audience. one and a half hour long there was talk of a concert without concessions in which 'hot head', 'sheriff of hong kong' and 'bat chain puller' possessed the same prototype power. namely the one of captain beefheart.

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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo