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

Live reviews

Over Her Head
Waiting For Blonde
Do Not Go Gentle
Endless Plain of Fortune
Venus In Furs
Set Me Free
Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead
Paris 1919
E is Missing
Model Beirut Recital
Pablo Picasso
Heartbreak Hotel
Thoughtless Kind

Glasgow 2003-06-23

King Tuts, Glasgow, UK
Review by Fraser Allen

Cale and an enthusiastic young band pulled off a thrilling performance at King Tut's in Glasgow on 23 June. The music, helped by the acoustics of the small venue, felt even crisper than this correspondent remembers from the Locusts tour. And, after years of touting his polished solo set, it was great to hear him let rip, gleefully plundering some surprises from the back catalogue.

He opened with Over Her Head, followed by a kind of, er, jazzy 'scat' number, presumably a forthcoming track from the September album. The 5 Tracks EP also featured prominently, with Waiting For Blonde, Verses and E Is Missing all sounding far stronger live than on the recorded versions.

However, the crowd really got going when Cale launched into a magisterial version of Venus In Furs, singing and playing viola simultaneously. This may be heresy, but I don't think I was the only one who thought it knocked the original into a cocked hat. In fact, vocally, he was on top form, and seemed to be thoroughly relishing the occasion. There was no chat, but his playful delivery said it all. He was the consummate showman, wagging his finger, mugging like a loon and, of course, summoning up the occasional scream.

Other highlights were a fantastic beefed-up Gun, a thumping Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead, a cleverly re-arranged Endless Plain of Fortune and, the one acoustic moment, the closing Thoughtless Kind. Despite someone's mobile going off and Cale accidentally hitting a stupendously bum note, he managed to grin through it (grimacing "oh no!") and steered the song through to its rueful conclusion.

If there was a disappointment, it was Fear, when a spoken (or rather hissed) delivery over a rattling backbeat left it barely unrecognisable. But if Cale wasn't (still) prepared to take risks, he wouldn't be the stunning live performer he continues to prove.

© 1999- Hans Werksman