captain beefheart electricity

THUNDERBOLTS
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the MAGIC BAND reunion

THIS is BAND #4 live - go to the main page


tuesday 22 june 2004 AMSTERDAM holland PARADISO
attendance: approximately 600

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REVIEW
by teejo

whatever the reasons might be, captain beefheart always has been more popular - i mean, better understood - in europe than in his home country. because of the similarity of the languages, it's logical great britain has the biggest number of fans - so touring our continent, most gigs took place at that island. but given the language barrier a maybe relatively even bigger group of 'followers' could be found on the mainland. during the visits to europe the band regularly went 'abroad' and especially holland and france were favourite destinations.

because the reunion of the magic band lasted longer than many people had expected and invitations for more shows came in, it just seemed a question of time for the group to re-discover western europe. and indeed, on the first day of the summer of 2004 the old beefheart companions were back in amsterdam in holland, as the start of a two week tour mainly leading through the united kingdom (again).

the magic band - denny walley - live performance 220604 paradiso, amsterdam, holland - by frans schellekens
denny walley / feeler's reedo - picture by frans schellekens

as i live only twenty kilometres away from that city, i no longer could hold on to the excuse that attending one of the magic band's concerts took too much time and money. i simply hád to go....

all preparations went smoothly: after a four hour car drive from germany, detlef jürgens arrived at mine in time, and we headed for the show at paradiso while listening to the 'back to the front' more-than-a-tribute. once inside the former synagogue, i stumbled into a stand with magic band memorabilia and in a seldom moment of goodness i bought a t-shirt and obtained a free poster.

we had arrived at the scene early enough for an easy acclimatization and a bit of 'investigation' into the background of the audience (continued during and after the show). which appeared to be a strange mixture of 'sub-cultures'. of course, there was the core of dutch beefheart addicts which had come from far and near to see the performance, if they weren't from the neighbouring countries belgium and germany. remarkably, however, was the overwhelming presence of frank zappa fans who hoped to find out more about his legendary guest captain beefheart.

the magic band - gary lucas - liive performance 220604 paradiso, amsterdam, holland - by bas schelfhout
gary lucas - picture by bas schelfhout

due to its international character, amsterdam also houses many english speaking residents and tourists (like a guy from canada who video taped the event!). so, a quite astonishing fact was that half of the conversation was done in english. as is customary to 'difficult' music, the majority of the public was male, yet a considerable number of women had shown up. although the gig hadn't been sold out - the two balconies stayed closed - the central floor was well occupied, which according to regular visitors meant the magic band had attracted about 600 people.

not only the fact that the audience wasn't pressed together made the stay a pleasant one, the circumstance that there were hardly any (fucked up) teens and twens also contributed to the general feeling of comfort. meanwhile, the sphere was very relaxed. no wonder, because the hall was filled with such thick clouds of hash smoke that everyone was high - even folks who dare to claim they never use drugs!

the magic band was in a similar mood, beit that the guys at first had some trouble finding back the overall musical co-ordination after five months in which they hadn't seen each other. for instance: their performance of 'the smithsonian institute blues' wasn't as perfect as the rest of the program. and john french hadn't sufficiently warmed up his vocal cords (compared to the album versions), though not too dramatically.

the magic band - john french / drumbo - live performance 220604 paradiso, amsterdam, holland - by frans schellekens
john french / drumbo - picture by frans schellekens

after opening with a couple of songs, the group switched to a set of instrumentals, which included solo pieces by gary lucas and mark boston (with the 'bass hair pie', of course). during this section the ensemble got as it should be, and you could see and feel how the growing joy the musicians had in playing led to excellent executions of particularly some 'trout mask replica' classics. consequently, the audience turned wilder and wilder from enthusiasm.

with óne instrumental to go a funny misunderstanding happened when john french stood up from the drum stool to pick up his towel at the front of the stage, and michael traylor took his place thinking it was his time to take over. he was sent back to the side wings in good harmony....

when the magic band started with the second vocal part of the show, it appeared that the rest had been favourable to john's voice. he sang superbly, and gestured like beefheart himself, and inspired the other guys to follow his example with the same conviction. although we had no complaints about the performance till then, the finishing acts of the concert were really baffling. just like us, the band swung madly during especially 'electricity' and 'click clack'....

the magic band - mark boston / rockette morton - live performance 220604 paradiso, amsterdam, holland - by bas schelfhout
mark boston / rockette morton - picture by bas schelfhout

as expected, they also did a magnificent encore which contained blistering versions of two of our favourite songs. amazingly enough, after one and a half hour of great music we still had the foolish cheek to ask for more - but our desperate request was in vain.

however, nobody cared, because it had been a very pleasant evening for all. despite a few technical misfortunes like no sound from denny walley's guitar during most of 'abba zaba' and occasional adjustments of the vocal microphone, the total mix was in fine balance, and the passionate performance proved that captain beefheart's unusual music still is very alive and kicking.

i think, the magic band should come over more often....

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click clack to part two

[updated 030704]

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captain beefheart electricity
as felt by teejo

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