John Cale
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend - John Cale

Live reviews

Coventry 2001-02-18

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, UK
Review by Peter Gorgeous

Saw JC at Warwick Arts Centre last night. The venue was of the kind best suited to puppet shows or amateur dramatics, certainly not right for our man. John came out purposefully to the sort of hesitant applause he'd have to get used to for much of the night. Dressed in the ubiquitius leather strides, black loafers, black V-neck T-shirt and black crumpled linen type jacket, he made straight for his guitar and commenced a virtual re-run of his London set with a shaky 'Sold Motel'. After little applause we got 'Dancing Undercover' and 'Ship of Fools' before he wisely moved to the piano and loosened up a great deal as he moved through that Ghostly thing, 'Wedding Anniversary','Do not Go Gentle', 'Buffalo Ballet, 'Paris 1919', 'Chinese Envoy' and 'Darling I need you'. During this section some character took a flash photo. Occasionally I've seen him stop and vent his spleen at such distractions but, no doubt mindful that the audience wern't appearing overly enthusiastic, he let it ride! (They took three more during the show and he said nothing but winced every time).

He went back to the guitar and did his prelim spiel for 'Things to do in Denver...' but when he struck up, the guitar was way out of tune. Trying not to look too fed up, JC messed with the tuning for a bit but decided to go with it rather than waste more time, (no doubt thought his philistine audience wouldn't notice !), and he stayed out of tune thru 'Leaving it up to you','Set me free', and a very lacklustre 'Cable Hogue' before, to my relief heading back to his piano.

He turned in a shaky 'Dying on the vine', a better 'Cordoba', (with usual intro chat) before berating the lighting girl for not having enuff light on the keyboard with the words "I can't play by braille". We got treated to a lengthy 'Heartbreak Hotel' and a cursory 'Style it takes' ( no 'Fear'), before saying goodnight and taking three bows before hastening off-stage.

The audience had been warming thru the second half of the show and he got a pretty reasonable ovation and had to come back on. He seemed very surprised that he'd got an encore. He opted for the guitar (NO!!) and played an even more out of tune 'Thoughtless Kind' before returning to the piano for 'Hallelujah'. When he got to the 'you don't really care for music, do ya?' line he turned to the audience with a nasty sardonic grimace/grin which gave me the best laugh of the night. He wasted no time in pissing off after that and the house lights came on very rapidly.

Shame, I think he'd come out in a good mood but the lack of audience rapport must have really irked him. I think there must have been a lot of first timers who are just too overawed by seeing the man up close - we all know what his presence is like, especially in a relatively intimate kind of place. As for me, I really enjoyed myself. Kinda nice to see the foibles. I really wanted to rush up and tune his guitar for him...but really believe he's gotta sort out his guitar playing or have someone do it for him. God knows myself, and tons of you out there would do it for free!!

Also, no BJ Cole :(( This was disappointing. So, an elderly and populist show, as usual. John, if you're reading this, I understand why you do the show you do but it would be nice to see more quirks and variations in future 'necessary evil' tours. Your status assures that you could take more liberties than you do. We're all on yer side, even the quiet over-awed ones :))

Oh, and change yer agent for one who knows where to put you, these places might do for Judy Tzuke and Maddy Prior but they're wrong for you... ;)

© 1999- Hans Werksman