Adrian Belew Power Trio – Live at The Mod Club, Toronto

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As The Adrian Belew Power Trio enters its last week of a mammoth 50 date North American and European tour, I caught the band at The Mod Club in Toronto. Words and pictures by Tim Darbyshire.

After playing The Mod Club in late 2014, Adrian Belew made a welcome return to the Mod Club last night, ably supported as ever by Julie Slick on bass and Tobias Ralph on drums.  Adrian and co treated the enthusiastic crowd to an eclectic mix of solo material and King Crimson numbers throughout the two hour show split over two sets.

Adrian Belew famously fronted legendary progressive band King Crimson for 30 years – unfortunately he’s not part of the current touring King Crimson – as well as working with such luminaries as Talking Heads, David Bowie, Frank Zappa and Nine Inch Nails to name but a few. The innovative guitar virtuoso sprinkled the Crimson content liberally throughout the two sets, including crowd favourites ‘Frame By Frame’, ‘Elephant Talk’, ‘Dinosaur’, ‘Neurotica’, ‘Heartbeat’, “One Time’, ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’ and finishing the second set with a rousing rendition of ‘Thela Hun Ginjeet’.

The chemistry on stage between the three talented musicians was great to see, clearly they were all enjoying themselves. Using guitar effects and looping phrases, Belew and the band build up an impressive crescendo of sound for just three performers. I’m not normally one for drum solos, but Tobias Ralph proved the exception to the rule with a precise and powerful display towards the end of the first set.

The solo material was as enjoyable, if less familiar – and the balance of old and new seemed about right. Songs ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘E’ and ‘Beat Box Guitar’ allowed more room for expression and improvisation. Hopefully Adrian will return before too long as the performance was at times mesmerising and always entertaining.

2017 is another busy year for the extended King Crimson family. In addition to the Adrian Belew Power Trio, Toronto will see King Crimson play Massey Hall on July 5th, and Stick Men (featuring current  members Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto) playing at The Garrison on August 27th. These are shows not to be missed!

 

 

MEW announce North American Tour

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Danish band MEW make a welcome return to North America this Summer, including a date at Toronto’s Mod Club on August 10th.  The tour will see MEW promoting their latest album ‘Visuals’ which was released last week.

Tickets for all dates go on sale Friday May 5th.

Visit the MEW website for all things MEW related

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YES announce Yestival Tour, ARW Touring again

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YES Official have announced the dates for their Yestival American tour which will feature Todd Rundgren and Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy as support acts. According to Yesworld.com  “…. YES will play one track live, from each studio album from YES (1969) to DRAMA (1980), chronologically, with a few surprises thrown in.”

Aug 04 – White Oak Amphitheatre at Greensboro Coliseum Complex, NC
Aug 05 – Holmes Convocation Center, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Aug 07 – Pier Six Concert Pavilion, Baltimore, MD
Aug 08 – Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA
Aug 10 – The Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket, CT
Aug 11 – Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, NY
Aug 12 – P.N.C. Bank Center, Holmdel, NJ
Aug 16 – The Palace Theatre, Greensburg, PA
Aug 17 – DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI
Aug 19 – Festival Park – Grand Victoria Casino, Elgin, IL
Aug 20 – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica*, Cleveland, OH
Aug 22 – The Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
Aug 23 – Smart Financial Centre, Sugar Land, TX
Aug 25 – Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ
Aug 26 – The Joint @ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Aug 29 – Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, CA
Sep 03 – Tulalip Amphitheatre, Tulalip, WA

Presales begin 13th April, with there being a possibility of extra dates being added.

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YES were recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame of course, but if anyone was hoping or expecting any kind of further union, the ongoing name-grabbing attempts by ARW  – who appear to have a legal right to be known as ‘YES featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman’ – and the frosty nature of relations during the induction ceremony have put an end to that. Both camps have separately announced there will be no further unions, despite next year being the band’s 50th Anniversary.

YES already have plans to tour Europe in early 2018 when they are expected to be performing Relayer in full.

ARW themselves return to North America in August/September, including 3 concerts in Canada:

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September 16th – Toronto Massey Hall
September 18th  – Quebec Grand Theatre
September 19th – Montreal Theatre St Denis

Full dates on the ARW website.

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New Nick Beggs Interview – March 2017

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I caught up with bassist extraordinaire Nick Beggs in between legs of the 2017 Steve Hackett ‘Genesis Revisited and Classic Hackett Tour’. We discuss all things Nick Beggs related, The Mute Gods, working with Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson and much more………

Interview and photos by Tim Darbyshire

Tim Darbyshire (TD): So Nick, firstly thanks very much for taking the call.

Nick Beggs (NB): No problem

TD: Let’s start in the present. last Thursday and Friday we went to Oakville And Buffalo, two great shows. How was the Buffalo show with the orchestra, how were your preparations different?

NB: Well to be honest with you, there was no preparation needed on my behalf whatsoever. I think there was a couple of end cadences which changed due to the points at which they’re transcribed. They’d taken something from an earlier incarnation of the song, and we’d since developed the arrangements a bit. The end of Firth of Fifth, there was four bars different from what they’d done so I had to change what I played there, but that was it.

I think really, to be honest with you, the best thing to do is to just ignore it, carry on doing the gig as normal and they fit around what you’re doing – that was the idea of it anyway.

TD: Have they seen the music before, did they rehearse or I guess they’re just classically trained musicians that read off the sheet music?

NB: Yes exactly, that’s how all orchestras work. It’s too expensive to get a 64-piece orchestra together for rehearsals. Orchestras work on a very different kind of scale to musicians of the rock or jazz idiom. Time is money and of the essence, they have to take five minutes off every half hour or every fifty minutes whatever it is – it’s heavily union led.

So there is no discrepancy for error, the orchestrator will do all the work. He met up in London with Roger King and they talked a few things through. But no, from our part it was turn up, ignore the orchestra and get on with what you usually do.

TD: Hardly any interaction then between the band and the orchestra? Was it a case of they’re just sitting behind us playing the music?

NB: Yes, we talked with the conductor (Bradley Thachuk) and his brother, the arrangers, and they were great, we had interaction with them.

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TD: He seemed to be having the time of his life on stage – Bradley

NB: Yes, and Steve his brother, they’re both big prog-heads. It was a nice experience and it would have been better if the orchestra been sat on an angle, on terraced seating to be showed off more. From what I could hear, they sounded wonderful, but I couldn’t hear that much of them. It’s a distraction really, when you’re used to playing – and there is no rehearsal time for the band with the orchestra – if you’re hearing the orchestra playing new parts, and you’re ‘hearing’ the room it can be a distraction…….

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TD: Sure, I went on the balcony pre-show and it was a good view of the orchestra behind the band setup, but from the floor it was just the band, you could see the double basses on one side and some violins on the other.

NB: Yes I think the balcony was definitely the best vantage point for viewing the concert, I don’t know if sonically it was better or not.

TD: Sonically, to me the orchestra was helping Roger’s parts, filling in textures and colours. giving it a nice feel. From where we were, the bass was very quiet – but I guess it has to be so you don’t drown out the orchestra?

NB: Yes, generally on stage the sound was quite quiet. You’ve got so many frequencies occurring in an orchestra anyway you have to mix it accordingly. And you know with only four hours to get it together in terms of sounds and run throughs you’re not going to have an ideal scenario no matter how good your front house sound guys are, your conductor, it’s not going to be 100% right.

TD: But it was considered a considerable success, yes?

NB: Well it was sold out! That’s as much of a success you can expect on that level.

TD: Artistically though – everyone seemed very happy?

NB: Yes, we had a lovely time.

TD: The Oakville show the night before was a more traditional Hackett gig. A great theatre, compact venue and the bass sound goes right through you.

NB: Yes, probably quite a different mix to the one you got the next night, because of the shape of the room as well. It was mixed more for a rock ensemble, you didn’t have to leave headroom for the orchestra.

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TD: Where did you get the idea of using your fists for the bass pedals during Shadow Of The Hierophant?

NB: Well it’s really because it’s Gary (O’Toole)’s drum solo to be honest, and I didn’t want to be standing in his eye line. I didn’t want to be obscuring the audience from seeing what he was doing – turning all the rhythms round and doing all the polyrhythmic stuff you know, so I thought I should just sit down and hammer these things.

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TD: In a way, that’s what people were looking at – what’s he doing down there!?

NB: So it backfired then did it?

TD: Not really, it’s such a crescendo, the build up to the end of Hierophant, the whole place was shaking!

NB: Cool.

TD: So you’re back in Steve Hackett’s band – is that for the whole touring cycle or just until the UK and Europe dates are finished?

NB: It’s for this year.

TD: So there’s plans for more dates later in the year?

NB: Yes, there’s plans for later dates, they’re sorted of added on as we go, but we’re not too sure yet.

TD: Will that include a return to North America and specifically Canada?

NB: To be honest I really don’t know – it could do but I can’t confirm that.

TD: You had to learn to play the guitar touring with Steve Hackett. How was that?

NB: A challenge. I had to do it in three months and it’s quite complicated stuff although you’re not playing lead lines per se. You’re playing some linear parts – you know it was a challenge and I’m really glad that I took, because it sprungboarded me to The Mute Gods project really. After that I started writing songs in a different way and approaching the whole songwriting overview very differently.

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TD: So the Chapman Stick – isn’t that a guitar and a bass in one instrument?

NB: Yes it is. You can’t really play guitar music on the Chapman Stick, not to that extent. You play music that’s made for the Chapman Stick really.

TD: It’s really not like a regular guitar then

NB: You can play some of the voicings and some things work quite well, but it’s peculiar to itself you might say.

TD: It’s a touch guitar as opposed to plucked strings?

NB: Yes that’s right

TD: I did notice you didn’t use the Stick on the current Hackett tour, but you have before?

NB: I had planned on it, but it seemed each time the set was being revised, another Chapman Stick song was being dropped – for no reason other than the songs just didn’t seem to work as well, so I thought ok I’ll leave it behind this time and focus on other things.

TD: The set is based around Wind And Wuthering this time, do you have any songs that are your favourite Genesis songs to play or Steve Hackett songs?

NB: Well to be honest with you, all of his stuff I love. I always did, and the Genesis stuff too. With his departure I found the band not as interesting. And Then There Were Three was very good and a lot of people cite Duke as an album that’s worth listening to, but I never really listened to it. I think they lost something, and I realised that between him and Peter (Gabriel), that was the reason I really loved the band in the first place.

TD: I completely agree. People say they prefer Peter Gabriel era Genesis, but when you think about it more deeply, I think Steve Hackett era Genesis is more accurate. A Trick of the Tail……

NB: Trick of the Tail is amazing and so is Wind and Wuthering, and so is Seconds Out. You know the first Genesis Live album and Seconds Out are both quite ubiquitous live albums, that kind of informed a generation about what a live album should be really.

TD: I love the Genesis Live cover, the blue sheets the backdrops and the red box head – there’s just something about it, obviously the music as well…..It must be good to play music live that you grew up with?

NB: Very much so, it’s always great to have the opportunity to work with your heroes.

TD: I bet, and Steve always surrounds himself with amazing musicians.

NB: He’s very easy to work with. He’s very appreciative and always makes you feel very welcome and tells you how much he’s grateful that you’re in the band, and I think ah Steve we’re all here because of you, because we love you, you know.

TD: And that’s the reason we all keep coming to the shows. Rob Townsend as well, he adds such a different angle, a different take on the classic material, and of course he’s on the new Hackett albums.

NB: I think Steve needed another improvisational soloist in the ensemble you know, he needed someone who could extemporize ideas each night and sort of duet with him, duel with him. Rob is great like that, and using a soprano saxophone in that way – again thinking orchestrally – it doesn’t tread on anyone’s toes, and it always works.

TD: It does, I’ve seen the band many times down the years and never been disappointed.

NB: Great.

TD: Although you need to come back here as the shows I saw I didn’t get to hear One For The Vine!

NB: Yes, we did change the set around quite a lot for various reasons. We played One For The Vine on many of the shows but not the ones you turned up to. I don’t know why that was, it’s just the way it happened.

TD: I’m guessing you wanted to run through Supper’s Ready a few times before the performance with the orchestra?

NB: Yes that’s right

TD: I can’t really sit here and complain about hearing Supper’s Ready live can I?

NB: Yes I guess not!

TD: So, your other main touring commitment is with Steven Wilson, and has been for the last 5 years or so.

NB: And Kim Wilde

TD: Yes, Kim Wilde, is that still ongoing?

NB: I was going to be doing something with her at Christmas, but it got cancelled. But you never know with Kim, she might have some space that I can fit in with. A lot of time I’m too busy with other stuff so she’s had to get somebody else in when I’m not available. I do get back into the project from time to time, they’re such great people to work with.

TD: So who has priority then? Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Kim Wilde or whoever asks first?

NB: Well I’m sure you appreciate, as a musician you know you go where most of the work is, and there’s been times when Steve Hackett hasn’t been touring that much, and Steve Wilson has, and vice-versa. You know Steve Wilson’s not doing any touring this year so I’m with Steve Hackett.

TD: On the Wilson side, I know you were in the studio recently with him recording. Are all your parts finished?

NB: Yes, the album’s finished.

TD: Have you heard it?

NB: I’ve heard some of it, I haven’t heard the finished mixes obviously, but I’m meeting up with him probably later in the week to take the dogs out for a walk.

TD: You live quite close to him then? You’re in Leighton Buzzard?

NB: Yes he lives just down the road from me in a little town called Hemel Hempstead.

TD: So is Steven surprising us all again with this album?

NB: Well, I shouldn’t really talk too much about his album, because he’ll want to do that when it comes out, but suffice to say – yes you won’t be disappointed. It’s going to be quite a surprise, it’s going to be a great album.

TD: I heard he’s signed with Universal, is that correct?

NB: Yes

TD: I’m not sure how I feel about that. Happy for him if it moves him up to a higher league…

NB: Actually it’s a subsidiary of Universal….

TD: Ok so the album’s out later in the year but there’s no touring until next year?

NB: Yes, as far as I know.

TD: So, onto The Mute Gods. I guess you’re very close with Roger (King) from working with Steve Hackett, and Marco (Minneman) from touring with Steven Wilson. Did it just come about because you thought I’ve been playing other people’s music for so long, it’s time I did some more of my own?

NB: Yes, more or less, except somebody else said that to me. Thomas Waber at InsideOut put those words into my head.

TD: So you just needed a little push?

NB: Yes, well I said I don’t think anyone’s interested in what I’ve got to say. He said I think you might be surprised….

TD: Did it come together in hotel rooms on tour, or do you always have a collection of songs ready waiting for various projects?

NB: Yes, and I also always have a recording set up with me when I’m travelling.

TD: A laptop and…..

NB: A laptop and a soundcard and a keyboard or guitar.

TD: So you record any ideas as you get them?

NB: Yes, I came up with three new ideas this last month on the road with Steve Hackett.

TD: For The Mute Gods 3, the next album?

NB: Yes

TD: So the new album (Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth), I’ve read some reviews where people are suggesting you’re really ranting. To me it doesn’t sound like that, ok lyrically you’re having your say – as everyone should – but the album itself doesn’t sound like a doom-laden, morose angry rant to me. Some of the songs seem pretty ‘up’.

NB: I think it depends how much you want to distill it. If you look at the lyrics, I think the lyrics are very dark. There’s some dark melodic ideas and it’s quite gnarly. It’s not as ranty as a Rage Against The Machine album or something of that genre. It’s melodic, but it’s the angriest album I’ve ever made.

TD: You’re having your say on the state of the world. 2016 was a crazy year……

NB: The thing that always amazes me is just how much distance there is between the right and the left politically. So those who voted in a certain way, those who voted the other way – there’s no middle ground. And therefore if people don’t agree with what you’re saying they’ll come down on one particular side, and if they do agree they completely agree and know where you’re coming from.

But something I’ve learned from making this record is I’m not going to try and please anybody. I’m going to please myself and I’m not doing this to win friends and influence people. I’m doing this because I’ve got something to say – and that has to be the essence of why I’m making these records. If I’m trying to engender a fan base, it will come across as disingenuous. Frankly I hold very strong views.

TD: Well a lot of it makes sense to me

NB: That’s probably because we’re of the same political persuasion, but when the far right is gathering in the wings and you have idiots voting for Brexit and fuckwits voting for Trump you’re going to alienate people – I don’t care about that, that’s what I’m prepared to do. I’m prepared to call people out for what they’re doing.

TD: That’s right, in the artistic community, anyone you speak to, I can’t imagine them voting for Trump.

NB: No. Last night a guy came on The Mute Gods Facebook page and left a message saying Nick Beggs has lost himself a lot of fans by being very rude about the Brexiteers. I just went in and said thank you for inspiring the album, I’ve not finished with you lot by a long way!

TD: There’s a lot wrong the way we treat people in the world today, corporate power, government cover ups……history has taught us we should be very aware of the far right rising.

NB: It’s going to get worse. We are moving towards a very draconian time. Resources are going to be stretched to breaking point and it costs a lot of money to have care in the community, and to be considerate and altruistic, and when it comes down to it and governments are being squeezed, and people are being squeezed due to the trickle down effect, it’s going to become a very untenable society.

TD: We seem to have lost all the middle ground, over the last 20 years?

NB: It’s where we’re at. We had the boom period of the 80s, if we’d gone back to post war Britain you’d see a lot of austerity then, much more than extreme than this – but we’re heading back into a period of that kind of difficulty for large swathes of society. The disenfranchised are growing….

TD: The gap between the haves and have nots in society is growing, obscene corporate wages, the banking crisis etc, it’s all linked.

NB: It’s a perfect storm.

TD: So much greed at the top, I guess this is a whole different conversation……..

NB: Well it’s not really to be honest with you, this is the essence of what I’m writing about, this is what The Mute Gods is about. It’s about me turning the spotlight on the mechanisms that have got us here.

TD: The love song that closes the album (Stranger Than Fiction), is that the antidote? Love can save us?

NB: I think love is the only thing that can save the day. If you can find love in your life it will make sense of everything, it’s like a lottery win. But if you focus in on the things that are self-seeking and build walls around yourself and pull down the portcullis and pull up the drawbridge, as society is doing, then that’s where we’re heading.

I also take issue with religion – religion has sold us with the footnote that God is love, but we know that not to be true. We know that God’s representatives here on Earth and all the agencies thereof, do anything but love. We know that Christianity does not have the moral monopoly.

TD: You used to have religion didn’t you?

NB: Yes, I was a very very committed Christian for decades.

TD: So what changed then?

NB: I realised that every decision I had made appertaining to my faith had been based in fear and a desire to please something that I thought had my best interests at heart. And then I realised that you can’t build a life or a future on something there is no proof of, that actually on a daily basis seems to become less real, less potentially real.

On a global scale, on a universal scale, science is proving this. We are welcome to have our own thoughts and ideas, but that’s all they are. We do not have the right to push those beliefs or set up systems from which to govern over people and put down credos and dictums by which people should live. It’s time we came out of the dark ages and realised what stupid idiots we’ve been.

TD: All we hear about is Isis, but crazy right wing religious groups in America are
as bad.

NB: You look at the hate preachers in America – they are every bit as bad as Isis.

TD: I thought religion was meant to be based on love, all you hear about is hate.

NB: Well true love is totally un self-seeking, otherwise it can’t be true love. It has to be based in an act of kindness as a guttural knee-jerk response based on your level of humanity. When we see these poor people who have suffered terribly because the West have bombed them…..and you know the East as well because a lot of these terrorist groups have Russian weapons. We make these weapons, we put them out in the playground and all these children are being blown up, and we wonder why they want to come and live in our country? It beggars belief……

TD: Power, money, corruption….

NB: I feel all we need now is a couple of pints and we could put the world to rights!

TD: I’d love to , but I’m on the wrong side of the pond at the moment!

NB: I don’t have great hopes for humanity, I think we’re living on very thin times and don’t think we’ve got long to go. I think in the next hundred years we’re going to see life become very very difficult for the human race. I think there’ll be an enclave of the upper echelons who can afford to buy themselves in to a safe island somewhere, a safe haven. But I think society is going to become untenable for our children and our grand children.

TD: Very sad

NB: Yes but we’ve only got ourselves to blame, nobody else, and God is not going to save us. Nobody is going to help us, there will be no revelations, no second coming, no anti-christ.

TD: We’ll just fuck the planet up and that’s that

NB: Yes, that’s it, and it doesn’t matter, and when we’re all fossils…..you know

TD: Are you glad you’re 55? Not sure I’d want to be 18 again, life seems harder now?

NB: Well I feel like I am perennially 21, I have that sense of vitality, but the thing that I don’t envy is the folly of youth, the ignorance and the ability to think that you know everything – and the inability to take good advice. But that’s a good metaphor for humanity……

TD: It’s a sobering thought though, we both have kids.

NB: Well it is, my kids have a great outlook on life. They listen to me when I start talking about this stuff, but they’re going to live their lives, have good life expectation. My children are very fortunate and for as long as the world seems to rotate they will live their lives in a way much better than my parents did, or my grandparents did.

TD: We’re a similar age, I think growing up we expected things to get progressively better?

NB: There are things that are better, things that have moved on, and there always will be. We’re living ever more in a global village, where the effects of one country can have even further far reaching effects globally than before. Technology pushes the reality of nightmare scenarios under our noses.

TD: And everything’s so throwaway these days, no one has any attention span.

NB: I have some hopes and dreams. I dare to believe that the spirit of certain types of entrepreneurial thinkers will continue to make life better. I saw somebody the other day who was selling a new patent – it was a fridge that worked on oxygen, and it could convert oxygen to the basic requirements to keep refrigeration. It was an oxygen engine and I thought , that’s the type of people that are going to save us.

TD: You’re right, it’s like the car industry, the technology is there for us all to be driving electric cars, but the car manufacturers and oil companies hold us back.

NB: Of course the petro-chemical industry own all the patents. One of the most polluted roads in the whole of the UK is in Swansea, you’d think there’d be a move towards cleaner cars, cleaner fuels, better environment the way we see things on TV, but the particulates issue is still a massive issue.

TD: On your social media you often post pictures from your garden, butterflies and the like. People seem ignorant to the fact that if we continue to kill our pollinators there will be no food left.

NB: People don’t have time to think about it. People are being waged war on by governments. Governments use silent weapons, they use commerce, they keep us in our places, keep us under the cosh. We have to pay this bill or that tax, we are in a perpetual battle zone of our own and for those poor souls that are financially unfeasible they just fall by the wayside and become a statistic. Governments are very good at silencing their dissenters. They use it with commerce.

TD: As we get older not everything is quite as perceived shall we say?

NB: The paradigm is always changing. The landscape is always changing politically and socially, environmentally everything is changing all the time.

TD: Yes, the environment is a big one. So Nick, anything else to add about The Mute Gods? Your favourite song on the new album?

NB: My favourite track on the album is The Dumbing Of The Stupid because I think it speaks to our generation.

TD: There’s no misunderstanding the sentiment, just from the title. I know you’re very busy these days, is Kajagoogoo still an ongoing project?

NB: No. We did something about nine years ago, and that was good. It was almost like a kind of revisiting of it for old time’s sake and I felt that we did quite a lot of good with that. But in terms of moving forward, there’s no point in revisiting that project.

TD: I guess that’s when everyone first heard your name

NB: Yes of course, it was globally quite well received but it was a pop act, it was very much of its time and it did what it was supposed to do which was to chart.

TD: It got you out there though, and has given you a life in music.

NB: Yes it got me started. It got me started in a way that was very disposable, but it was absolutely right and made for the 80s. It was made for the 80s, by the 80s, in the 80s.

TD: So despite your numerous live commitments, will we ever see The Mute Gods on stage?

NB: I really don’t know the answer to that question. At the moment, the interest in the band seems to be growing to such an extent that it’s likely, but I can’t really make a decision on that until the release of the third album. I want to give myself enough time to consider everything.

TD: Is The Mute Gods’ third album now your priority, after promoting the new album?

NB: Yes, that’s my next project. You say promote the new album, but to be honest with you, when you put an album out all the work’s done by the time the album’s out there, so it can be a real anti-climax. You’ve been working on it for maybe a year or so, had all this intimate detail, you do all the press and that leading up to it and then it goes out…..and it’s like, ok you have to let it get on with it really, let it have its life.

TD: You mentioned Thomas Waber at InsideOut earlier. They seem to do great work with prog bands and prog-metal bands.

NB: I don’t know if I’d have done it if it wasn’t for Thomas, he galvanised the whole thing. He made me start thinking about it, and on more than one occasion put the idea into my head. I kind of pushed it out initially, I thought nah…..

TD: I love the fact that in these days of streaming, they release deluxe editions, mediabook editions, 5.1 mixes and all that. Is that just for our generation?

NB: Well they know the demographic – they know what these things mean to that demographic, and it’s not just people in their 50s, younger people are coming to this…..they’re being seduced by the same things that we were, and for good reason. They’re good things, good ideas, they’re tangible, you can hold them, look at them and they relay information in a far more compelling way than a digital download will ever do.

TD: I obviously grew up with vinyl. Could you believe say 10 years ago that you’d be releasing your new album on vinyl?

NB: Well I was always incensed when I couldn’t buy stuff on vinyl. I remember the first time I went into a record shop and couldn’t buy a John Martyn album on vinyl. I got a bit angry with the shopkeeper! I thought hang on this is ridiculous, it’s not this guy’s fault but at that particular time I saw him as part of the problem because they’d turned their backs on something that was tried and tested – and something that I loved, and again I’m not the only person who thought that.

TD: It’s kind of like the perpetual software/hardware upgrade cycle.

NB: Yes, and I think those things are ok providing you accept that. You have to find your level, your entry point in to the digital realm. Some people like to digitize their vinyl – I know some of my friends do – now they’re getting crackles and everything but then they’re running it through filters and you’re in a whole other area of expertise.

5.1 mixing, you know it all depends what your comfort zone is.

TD: I love 5.1 mixes, listening to Close To The Edge, hearing the parts Steven Wilson has added back in from the multi-track tapes. It’s a great way to revisit classic albums you grew up with.

NB: He has a very nice way of referring to that, whenever he does a 5.1 mix he says he doesn’t want to change anything, he says ‘I just want to spring clean the Sistine Chapel’. Isn’t that great?

TD: That’s great, and he’s very good at his spring cleaning, he’s got a good ear.

NB: He’s the best. He’s great, he knows his stuff.

TD: Nick, thanks for all the live shows over the years, with Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett. You always seem to be having fun on stage

NB: Glad you enjoy it, I’ve got the best job in the world haven’t I?

TD: We could do with a few less nude shots of you but apart from that I think we’re ok……

NB: Au contraire! The world needs more nudity, you know you can trust a man with no pockets. Also when you take your clothes off and run towards a man with a gun when you’re naked, you know he’s going to run away.

TD: It’s the safest defence?

NB: (laughing)…I’ve done it a few times

TD: It’s a good job I can’t see you now isn’t it?

NB: Yes, I’m laying here completely starkers! …….No I’m not, only joking Tim

TD: Well Nick that was great, thanks again for you time. Hopefully we can do it again some time

NB: Alright, I’m sure I’ll be heading over the pond sometime. Have a good rest of the day, and thanks for your time and thanks for your interest.

TD: Cheers

Steve Hackett – Live at The Oakville Centre, 2nd March 2017

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Steve Hackett made a welcome to Canada this week for a show at The Oakville Centre For The Performing Arts in Ontario. This was the penultimate performance of the North American leg of Steve’s  new ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ 2017 tour.

Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire

This was Steve Hackett’s fifth appearance at The Oakville Centre in just over three years and it’s always a pleasure to see him and his band play here. There’s not a bad seat in the house and the sound is always crystal clear in this compact 470 seat venue.  Despite being a frequent visitor, this year’s set list was very different to last year’s, such is the quality of Steve’s solo back catalogue as well as the depth of his work with Genesis.

This tour sees him showcasing new material from his as yet unreleased new studio album ‘The Night Siren’ (out later this month on Inside Out) as well as celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Genesis classic ‘Wind And Wuthering’.

The first half of the set focussed on the new material, including ‘In The Skeleton Gallery’ and ‘Behind The Smoke’ interspersed with some classic solo Hackett songs such as ‘Every Day’,  ‘The Steppes’ and ‘Shadow Of The Hierophant’.  ‘Hierophant’ ended the first part of the set with a climactic crescendo including Nick Beggs sitting cross-legged on the stage pounding his bass pedals with his fists.

Without having yet heard the ‘The Night Siren’, the songs played tonight seem to indicate that the new album is carrying on the Hackett tradition of a multicultural cross-genre collaborative approach, in a similar vein to 2015’s ‘Wolflight’, with many guest musicians from around the world. Rob Townsend (wind instruments) certainly proved his mettle on the newer songs with an impressive display and a variety of styles.

The second half concentrated on the ‘Wind And Wuthering’ album – ‘Eleventh Earl Of Mar’, ‘Blood On The Rooftops’ (with drummer Gary O’Toole providing the vocals), ‘In That Quiet Earth’, ‘Afterglow’ – and other familiar Genesis classics including ‘Firth of Fifth’ and ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’.  Nad Sylvan once again handles the vocals for the Genesis material and seems to be developing his own style with the songs more and more.  Roger King plays Tony Banks’ keyboard parts effortlessly – including the notoriously tricky piano intro to ‘Firth Of Fifth’.  The major surprise of the night was the inclusion of ‘Supper’s Ready’ for the first time on this tour (at the expense of ‘One For The Vine’, ‘Dance On A Volcano’ and ‘Inside And Out’). With Steve and his band due to play ‘Supper’s Ready’ with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra the following night, I guess it’s not surprising they felt like giving it an outing. The appreciative audience was treated to ‘The Musical Box’ as the encore.

Backed as ever by his highly talented band (including the returning bassist Nick Beggs), Steve Hackett and co once again delivered a stellar performance lasting over two hours. Seeing Steve up close and playing the solo in ‘Firth of Fifth’ will always be a highlight of the show for me.

Touring continues in Europe in late March, April and May in Europe and the UK.  Steve seems to be currently on a two year new album/new tour cycle  – if so, hopefully he’ll return to Canada/North America next year when he is rumoured to be playing the Montreal and Quebec areas.

Set List – Steve Hackett, The Oakville Centre – 2nd March

Every Day
El Nino
Out of The Body
The Steppes
In The Skeleton Gallery
Behind The Smoke
Shadow Of The Hierophant (closing section)
Eleventh Earl Of Mar
Blood On The Rooftops
…In That Quiet Earth
Afterglow
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Firth of Fifth
Supper’s Ready

Encore
The Musical Box

Steve Hackett: Guitars, Vocals
Nad Sylvan: Vocals
Nick Beggs: Bass
Roger King: Keyboards
Gary O’Toole: Drums
Rob Townsend: Wind Instruments

Click here to read my review of Steve’s performance with The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on March 3rd

Click here to read my interview with Steve Hackett, discussing ‘The Night Siren’

Steve Hackett – Live at Kleinhans Music Hall Buffalo with Philharmonic Orchestra, 3rd March 2017

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Steve Hackett wrapped up the North American leg of the ‘Genesis Revisited with Classic Hackett’ 2017 tour in Buffalo with a special one-off  show of predominantly Genesis songs with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall – an event not to be missed.

Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

After months of detailed planning with conductor Bradley Thachuk of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, it was finally time to see Steve Hackett and band fuse classic Genesis material with a full orchestra.  There was a tangible sense of expectation as the audience filtered into the grand concert hall with the orchestra already seated and tuning up.

Seating 2400, Kleinhans is renowned for its excellent acoustics and as the band kicked off with ‘Dance On A Volcano’ it was clear we were in for a special evening. The orchestra added texture and colour, filling spaces normally occupied by Roger King’s lush keyboard sounds. Steve seemed to be playing with a permanent smile on his face, although the most animated person on stage was conductor Bradley Thachuk who was clearly having the time of his life.

The strong positive vibe continued throughout the show as Steve mixed full on Genesis classics such as ‘Firth of Fifth’, ‘Dancing With The Moonlit Knight’ and ‘Supper’s Ready’ with more subtle solo numbers which highlighted the orchestral contribution like ‘The Steppes’ and ‘Serpentine Song’. The rapturous applause after the set closer ‘Supper’s Ready’ was long lasting as the band and orchestra soaked up the sell out crowd’s appreciation. The band minus orchestra returned to the stage and finished the tour with a rousing version of ‘The Musical Box’.

Steve has of course been playing Genesis material on tour for the last four years, but having been influenced in so many ways by classical music this rare opportunity to play with the orchestra was one he clearly relished. Although not playing at the same volume as a regular gig,  Steve’s band delivered a superb performance as ever and special mention must go to the sound engineer Ben Fenner for giving us the perfect blend of electric band and orchestra.

I’m sure relief was among the emotions displayed at the end of the two hour show due to the nature of this one-off performance. Hopefully it’s an experiment Steve will be able to repeat again in the near future.

Setlist – Steve Hackett at Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo:

Set 1:
Dance On A Volcano
Out of The Body
The Steppes
Firth of Fifth
Dancing With The Moonlit Knight
Blood On The Rooftops
Shadow Of The Hierophant (closing section)

Set 2:
….In That Quiet Earth
Afterglow
Serpentine Song
Supper’s Ready

Encore:
The Musical Box

The 2017 Touring band:

Steve Hackett: Guitars, Vocals
Nad Sylvan: Vocals
Nick Beggs: Bass
Roger King: Keyboards
Gary O’Toole: Drums
Rob Townsend: Wind instruments

and The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bradley Thachuk.

Click here to read my review of Steve’s performance in Oakville the night before.

Click hear to read my interview with Steve Hackett, discussing ‘The Night Siren’.

King Crimson 2017 North American Tour Dates

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The first batch of 2017 King Crimson live dates have been announced via the band’s website – http://www.dgmlive.com. Some are still to be confirmed, and extra dates including New York City in the Autumn are expected to follow.

Three Canadian dates are scheduled, at Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec.

Bill Rieflin returns to the fold for 2017, completing an 8 man line-up, which potentially includes 4 drummers.

13th June – Seattle, WA – Moore Theatre
15th June – Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery
17th June – San Francisco, CA – to be confirmed
19th June – San Diego, CA – Humphrey’s
21st June – Los Angeles, CA – to be confirmed
24th June – Denver, CO – to be confirmed
26th June – Minneapolis, MN – to be confirmed
28th June – Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
30th June – Rochester, NY – Kodak Hall
3rd July – Montreal QC -Montreal Jazz Festival
5th July – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
7th July – Quebec, QC – to be confirmed
9th July – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
14th July – Mexico City – to be confirmed
15th July – Mexico City – to be confirmed

Big Big Train – Grimspound album arriving 28th April

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Big Big Train have revealed the artwork and track listing for the 28th April release of their ‘Grimspound’ album.

Hot on the heels of 2016’s ‘Folklore’, ‘Grimspound’ contains 8 tracks and will be the first Big Big Train release to feature a guest vocalist with  Judy Dyble of Fairport Convention fame singing lead vocal on one track.

2017 also sees Big Big Train return to the live stage with three shows at Cadogan Hall in London on September 29, 30 and October 1.

The album will be available on CD, 180g double vinyl, hi-resolution 24/96 download, standard resolution download and via streaming services.

Pre-orders will begin 2nd March, from Burning Shed and The Merch Desk.

‘Grimspound’ Track Listing:

Brave Captain
On The Racing Line
Experimental Gentlemen
Meadowland
Grimspound
The Ivy Gate
A Mead Hall In Winter
As The Crow Flies

Mew announce new album and tour

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Danish band Mew return in 2017 with their seventh album, entitled ‘Visuals’ and a European Tour. The album is released on 28th April 2017 and can be pre-ordered now from Mew’s website.

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World wide tour dates are expected to be announced soon, the following dates in Europe are now confirmed:

FEB 9, Academy of Music (Copenhagen, Denmark) – two shows
MAY 17, Paradiso (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
MAY 19, Point Ephémère (Paris, France)
MAY 20, TRIX Centrum voor Muziek (Antwerp, Belgium)
MAY 21, Trinity Centre (Bristol, UK)
MAY 22, O2 Ritz Manchester (Manchester, UK)
MAY 23, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (London, UK)
MAY 25, Luxor (Cologne, Germany)
MAY 26, Knust (Hamburg, Germany)
MAY 26-27, Immergut Festival (Neustrelitz, Germany)
JUL 14, Ilosaarirock (Joensuu, Finland)
JUL 20-22, Musik i Lejet (Tisvilde, Denmark)

Fans have become accustomed to waiting a few years between Mew albums, so today’s announcement has come as a welcome surprise. Front man Jonas Bjerre explained that the tour that accompanied 2015’s ‘+-‘ album found the band reaching a creative peak that they felt was too exhilarating to be dampened by a period of extended cave-dwelling. They arrived home with demos that had been written on the road and the spark was lit. They wanted to break the cycle and make an album quickly.

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Track listing for the new album is as follows:

1-Nothingness and No Regrets (4:28)
2-The Wake of Your Life (4:41)
3-Candy Pieces All Smeared Out (3:37)
4-In a Better Place (4:40)
5-Ay Ay Ay (3:41)
6-Learn Our Crystals (5:21)
7-Twist Quest (3:19)
8-Shoulders (2:53)
9-85 Videos (4:37)
10-Zanzibar (2:04)
11-Carry Me To Safety (4:27)

They have also released a video single ‘Carry Me To Safety’, the last song on the album:

 

Our Top 5 Live Albums of 2016

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Just a few personal favourites from 2016…..

1. STEVE HACKETT – The Total Experience Live In Liverpool

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2. BIG BIG TRAIN – A Stone’s Throw From The Line

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3. IQ – Live On The Road Of Bones

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4. KING CRIMSON – Radical Action (To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind)

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5. STICK MEN – Midori

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