Tonight was being recorded for a potential live CD - a brave thing to do on what was only the second live outing for the band. We need not have feared though, this was a band firing on all six cylinders, a band out to show us they meant business. The audience reaction in this packed, sold out, hall was loud and appreciative - especially for the Emerson, Lake and Palmer tunes aired. This shows just how missed that band are in these shores. Still, we had QANGO this evening and a powerhouse of musical energy they proved to be.
If you want to skip my scene-setting waffle and skip straight to the review, click here.
Shipman, chauffeur extraordinary, had an extra passenger (apart from myself)
on this leg of the journey' Whitley Bay to Brierly Hill' John Young himself.
John had a couple of things to take care of en route so it was easier to
catch a lift with us than the band. Before beginning the journey we had
a shot walk along the beach, John Y reminiscing about Paddy (having noted
that everybody else on the beach - apart from us - was walking a dog) and
how he would have loved such a sandy shoreline. John may not have had a
Paddydog to accompany him but he did have a Dug! John Shipman took a few
picture of JY on the shoreline so expect them on his website soon.
The first sell-out of the tour which left a unhappy punters who had driven a long way ("200 miles" in one case i overheard) for the show. I would have thought they would have checked there were tickets left before driving that sort of distance - especially as I'd once dragged three friends (one of them even driving) all the way from Reading to Bristol to see Pallas at a show (and tour) which had been cancelled. No that was embarrassing - though we did have a nice evening over a few beers in the Bierkeller sans band.
We arrived not long after the rest of the
band to a rather boxy venue still smelling of stale beer from the previous
evenings show. We helped unload the equipment from the van before retiring
to the, as yet unopened, bar to catch some sleep whilst the band readied
themselves for a quick run-through before the main show. The idea was to
run through a hour or so of the set in case of problems with the evenings
show. The venue is well equipped for recordings having it's own recording
equipment, so all that was required was to initialise the DAT masters.
As we were relaxing in the bar area I'm not sure why things were delayed
(initialising took longer than expected, equipment problems etc) but I
gather that only two or three tracks were soundchecked in the end.
Tonight was being recorded for a potential live CD - a brave thing to do on what was only the second live outing for the band. We need not have feared though, this was a band firing on all six cylinders, a band out to show us they meant business. The audience reaction in this tightly packed, sold out, hall was loud and appreciative - especially for the Emerson, Lake and Palmer tunes aired. This shows just how missed that band is in these shores. Still, we had QANGO this evening and a powerhouse of musical energy they proved to be.
As for the previous show there was no long introductory tape, just a quiet stroll onstage first by Carl Palmer, the rest of the band following as he settled himself behind his impressive kit. John Young began the evenings music with a keyboard only introductory Fanfare that was but a brief teaser, giving way swiftly to a double dose of classic Asia tunes, TIME AGAIN and SOLE SURVIVOR. After Time Again there was time only for John Wetton to say, “Thank you.” and “Evening” before Carl counted everyone in with a quick, “1, 2, 3”. These two songs provided an extremely powerful introduction to the band - Dave Kilminster impressing almost immediately with his soaring guitar work.
Before the next track Wetton explained “Thank you very much, how’re you doing. We’re recording tonight so sing along and enjoy yourself”. BITCHES CRYSTAL's complex introduction was played well by John Young, though John Wetton's vocals were very low in the mix at this early stage of the set. Young' keyboards, though loud enough during the solo sections, also seemed low in the mix for much of the set. Surely this could not be another night of sound desk problems?
There was one amusing little sound glitch, Palmers microphone was not turned up quickly enough, leading to a rather unhappy Palmer having the audience shout, “Are you Ready Eddie” and “Put the mic on Carl” at him. When it was turned up he asked, “can you hear me now?” before only half joking, “pay peanuts and you get monkeys.” Interesting comment coming from the financial man of the band! From this point on he made sure to check the mic was on before speaking into it.
As John’s Wetton and Young left the stage, having introduced DAVE KILMINSTER, Carl continued by explaining that “We’re going to slip into a number you know called The Smile Has Left your Eyes”, before leaving Dave to his acoustic GUITAR SOLO . This began with Promenade from ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition before continuing with other classically tinged pieces and ending with some flashy neck work.
As he finished the solo pieces John Wetton returned to the stage armed only with an acoustic guitar for a duet of THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES. Early in this track the Smile entered the audience’s eyes as Wetton’s guitar strap came undone part way through the track. The song was saved, apart from a small “whoops” of surprise from Wetton, by Kilminster reconnection strap to acoustic guitar body.
Stopping briefly for applause, during which John Young and Carl returned to the stage to await their cues, the acoustic duo continued with a moving version of the Bob Dylan track, ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER. During the audience's appreciative clapping John Young and Carl returned to the stage to await their cues to join the mostly acoustic version of a solo Wetton track, BATTLE LINES. Qango really do this track justice, Dave playing a lovely, sorrowful solo towards the final chorus.
“New one” is the simple introduction from Wetton to WALKING ON AIR, another powerful track. It builds with a long, slow, menacing, feel before the vocals begin. The audience paid attention to this number, it being the only track really new in the set. Afterwards, Wetton added, “Thanks a lot. Over to Johnny Young”
After a quick duff note, better to get
it out of the way before the solo I guess, JOHN YOUNG introduced
his KEYBOARD SOLO with “I might need some audience participation-
the Japanese will know what I mean.” It’s not just the Japanese contingent
who join in - most of the audience seemed to latch on straight away to
the clap-along section, much to John’s delight.
As the keyboards began ONLY TIME WILL
Taking the microphone, Carl asked “How’s
about that then” in his best Jimmy Saville impersonation, before adding
"What do you think of it so far then?" The audience reaction was predictable,
and no doubt fully expected, "Rubbish".
Wetton gave an alternate title for the preceding piece, “Hoedown or the inbreeding song.” before explaining the next track as, “this is an old one or a new one, which ever way you want to look at it.” In contrast to the pace of the preceding track the atmospheric, acoustic, introduction to LAST ONE HOME quieted the audience right down, they all listening to this rarely played track. Initially people probably expected a version of the Wetton solo track, Arkangel, which shares the light musical introductory passage, building right through to the end. The lyrics differed to those however and instead we were presented with the John Young track (also played by ASIA on their 1989 European tour). The audience
Wetton reminded everybody that they were being recorded, commenting the soundman, “better double track that” after the crowd cheered loudly for the recording. A rather strange shout went up from the audience next, for "Supper's Ready". A rather taken aback Wetton replied "we’d better take a break then". Not quite time for that yet though as the climax of the main set was introduced by John Young, this time leading us into the full version of the ELP classic, FANFARE FOR THE COMMON MAN. Again, guitar and keyboards shared both the main and solo sections of the piece, at times even musically dueling, then duetting with each other. Talking of solo's, part way through the piece all bar Carl Palmer left the stage to allow the man to impress us with a percussive DRUM SOLO. Carl took his time to show us a just how musical a drum solo can be. He moved from basic drum patterns, through playing opposite sides of the kit off each other, playing the cymbals both top and bottom on alternate beats then wetting his finger and vibrating it round a tambourine, adding bass drums before the clap-alonga-Carl section. Proceedings were brought to a crescendo as Carl gave the kit a good battering before the other three returned for a finale with a reprise of FANFARE continuing some wild playing by John Young. The band took their bows and left the stage to rapturous applause, the appreciative audience keeping it going until the foursome returned to perform an encore.
The appreciative audience keeping it going until the foursome returned to perform an encore of HEAT OF THE MOMENT. As soon as they finished the track they guys downed instruments and left the stage again.. they were soon back with a final encore of DON'T CRY before taking a final bow and departing the stage for the final time. The crowd still wanted more and kept cheering, even as the lights came up. despite their enthusiasm that was it for only the second public performance of QANGO. Despite a few technical problems they seemed to be enjoying themselves much more than the previous evening, smiling much more and even joking with the audience. I guess that having got through the first night with no real hitches and with the show being recorded for eventual release they put their all into the show.
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