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

Live reviews

Dancing Undercover
Over Her Head
Frozen Warnings
Chinese Envoy
Venus In Furs
Ship of Fools
Fear Is A Man's Best Friend
Look Horizon
Set Me Free
E Is Missing
Paris 1919
Leaving It Up To You
Cable Hogue
Close Watch

Brussels 2003-12-09

Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium
Review by Marga Taris

This is not a 'review' from somebody who knows what or whom she's talking about, just another embroidered setlist.

Brussels 3.00 pm
Good to be back on Boulevard Anspach, a busy street where cartoon bookshops and second hand record stores seem to occur at intervals of only a few meters. I came across a copy of 'Sabotage-Live'.. yeaahh!! - in the J.J.Cale section no wonder - but the unfortunate condition of the vinyl looked as though its former owners had used it to play frisbee on the beach. Too damaged to seriously enjoy Mercenaries. Shame. I'll have to have patience till another opportunity comes along.

Grand Place had been dressed up as a living Xmas-card with trees, a crib, life size statues and genuine sheep, under a full moon and clear starry sky... hmmm maybe the Japanese tourists armed with camera's were a bit out of place in this setting.

4.30 pm. On to Ancienne Belgique
where I met up in the pub with my Belgium-based friend for a pre-concert drink.. or two. Such a shame he couldn't stay for the show, being trapped in responsibilities elsewhere.

backstage pass Brussels 2003-12-09

A.B. security take their job pretty serious. Uniformed men emerging all over the place. And one barely gets past the barriers, even with a shiny laminate dangling down one's neck. A very disciplined audience too. When the signs say "No smoking" then the people actually don't smoke ( do they do a body search on recording equipment _and_ cigarettes on entering the venue? I wonder), contrary to their Dutch fellow fans who only feel encouraged by such requests. Plus they had the decency not to flashlight John's face every 5 minutes! so there was nothing that could interrupt a perfect show.

This time it was the audience that was highlighted and occasionally blinded by the spotlights (thanks Bill) while the band remained in obscurity, with John in the foreground representing a mere shadow outlined in a halo of light. But that was exclusively during the guitar songs. When it came to keyboard wizardry we could see who were on stage.

The set:

  1. Dancing Undercover
  2. Over Her Head

One of my favourite live-songs of the previous summer tour; it was awesome tonight. Very clear, and Cale's voice was very powerful. Perhaps he thought so too 'cos at times a smile flitted over his features!

  1. Frozen Warnings

everybody was under the spell of this ominous rendition and my neighbour kindly volunteered all the (un)necessary information: "dat is een nummer van Nico"

That was sweet I thought... I've been familiar with Nico's music for ages but decided not to elaborate on that.

  1. Archimedes
  2. Chinese Envoy

I truly like the foreign sound of it. Very clever.

  1. Venus In Furs

yep, the very rendition that would instantly inspire the unsuspecting newcomer with terror! nah, just kidding. It was noisy and wild. Great! Everyone agreed judging by the applause.

  1. Gun

the calm and modest reincarnation of the song again.. apart from that one really hoarse 'CHICKEN WIRE' scream and some funky guitar plucking.

  1. Andalucia

this one always moves me deeply.. every time and for some inexplicable reason it is to me the emotional equivalent of Liszt's 'Pensee des Morts'... silence composed to its limits.

  1. Caravan

always as beautiful as on the cd

  1. Ship of Fools
  2. Fear

does anyone have a clue about that brief classical passage in the middle of the song just before it segues into the cadenza... is it borrowed from Chopin? I know I have it somewhere but I can't place it.

  1. Look Horizon
  2. Set Me Free

as delicately performed as ever

  1. E is Missing

forget about the Perec book Zig, I've already done what I intended to do... and gave him my own copy. :)

  1. Magritte

Paintings and rough sketches of pipes - ceci n'est pas un Magritte - kept creeping up on me in Brussels! Many saloons and shops suddenly had one on display. Scary! Still love the song though. especially where the voice goes falsetto. (pinned to the edges of visiooooon)

  1. Paris 1919

I think I'm even starting to like the song... now that the tour is as good as history. :)

  1. Things
  2. Leaving it up to You

superb ! !

encores: _not_ Thoughtless Kind... he must have forgotten how to play it.

  1. Cable Hogue

again with a remarkable ending, vaguely reminiscent of the sound of that passionate guitar solo at the end of Prince's Purple Rain, no offense, that's just me.

And then one has to gasp for breath for

  1. Close Watch

introduced as: "this is a love song so hold on to someone you love"

Out of reach... (sigh)

Almost the same set as Krefeld, only Zen was missing, much to my neighbour's indignition. I had assured him the song was played every night. Ooops.

Excellent sound, no threatening looks to Stuart, and John's voice in great shape. The man absolutely didn't show signs of exhaustion. It's the best show I've heard this tour ... and also the last one I hate to say. For the first time his famous final words "See you soon" did not make sense to me.

© 1999- Hans Werksman