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

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Cale in Berlin

Berlin 2005-09-25

Columbia Club, Berlin, Germany
Review by Einar Stenseng
© 2005 by Ron.

Cale disappointed in Berlin. Compared to the concert I saw two years ago, there lacked a lot of intensity. Cale had with him (as last time) a boring backing band; three young New York session musicians that do what they're paid to do, and not much more. That leaves it up to Cale to lead the show, and he failed this time. Superficially speaking, I guess you can measure a Cale concert's intensity in how much the man screams, and there wasn't much of that this time...

The viola was only used on the opening number "Venus In Furs", which makes it more of a nostalgic gimmick than anything else. Cale's arrangement is pretty close to the original, so it's basically just a blatant crowd-pleaser. (His solo version of "I'm Waiting for the Man" is far more interesting.)

The six new songs that were performed were all uinteresting, straight-forward rockers with a contemporary, American sound. HoboSapiens had an experimental edge, but it appears that Cale has lost the desire to experiment on Black Acetate. When he sang an entire song in a castrate, high voice one couldn't help but wonder what the hell the old man was thinking.

Many of the old songs got lost in quasi-groovy jamming, particularly bad was the version of "Gideon's Bible". "Gun" was also awfully boring, and it appeared that Cale realized this himself and dropped several verses.

The only high points were a good version of "Dirty Ass Rock 'n' Roll", a beautiful "Set Me Free" and (I guess) "Leaving It up to You" (can it ever be totally bad?).

I've never seen a regular Cale solo show, but I suspect he's more interesting then. Give the man a grand piano, and fire the three young hipsters.

© 1999- Hans Werksman