Doornroosje, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Review by Marga Taris
Some observations before the memory fades.
Doornroosje, the Rock Citadel on the outskirts of Nijmegen is said to have had a facelift recently. I did not notice the difference, but maybe the obscure backstage area that we once used to refer to as the Bat Cave has been redecorated. It could do with some fresh paint. Otherwise, the art on the outside walls still remained as always: terrifying petroglyphs fused with bizarre shapes & blots in primary colours, clearly not John's 'favourite painter' .... more likely a gathering of schizo's on bad acid had a graffiti-party. It was almost a challenge to spot the hidden entrance door and the box office window.
Once inside the venue I had a brief chat with the manager (whose
name is Tony b.t.w.). He reassured me that we did not miss much by
skipping the Groningen gig, the band played fine but there was no
interaction with the quiet audience... nobody moved! Both aspects
are essential for a good show.
Tonight we had no such problems in the sold-out venue, no lack of enthusiasm or response from the crowd at all.
No Jumbo, but Zoo noises throughout the show,... the guys were monkeying about,.... Dustin winking to the tall German next to me (was that you, Andreas?), there was guitar madness and percussion madness and sweat all over the place, and showers of spit! which nicely stood out in the floodlights. The sweat literally poured off John and Michael all night, like fever had struck. Not due to aviair influenza I may hope... we managed to keep that out of the Netherlands so far! :)
Quite a different setlist than Leiden or Eindhoven. This time they mildly stuck to the official print-out .. still Buffalo Ballet came as a big surprise!
Oh, and John had abandoned the Mafia idea, the hairdo was all 'Woodstock' now. Much better. But he preserved the sober Mao look... or a parody of the style at least.
He was having a jolly good time and radiating energy ... untill Look Horizon. You immediately recognize the symptoms... when he looks as if great injustice is done to him. The shaking head, the malevolent glare to the soundchap in the wings who must have dozed off for a second, and to make things worse... the hot spotlights targeted right at his face were waaaay too bright, - he sent out 'dimming' signals with his eyes but nobody seemed to be hired to operate the damn disco equipment, and thus our poor man simply had to endure it all ... hence perhaps the unbelieveable high note he reached near the end of the song: "a child prodding a wounded insect, next to a cow in the pouring raaaaaiiiiiiiiiinnnn" and sustained considerably long .. as an act of despair? Well the song at least didn't suffer. He lasted stoically for Magritte before he went over to the guitar department.
For Gun the position of the microphone stand was less than ideal presumably (well there were no chalk marks to indicate anything) 'cos a long struggle with it followed untill Tony offered 'help', but how? what did the man want exactly. And did he not deliberately ignore the offered hand? A weird situation. It stood in the same place all night! but all of a sudden it had to be moved 5 inches backwards. OK the "viola arrangement" if that's what he wanted. Yes... Gun was going to be performed on viola!! A novelty!
With a long instrumental intro, great to hear we thought, but maybe John was too critical, he kept manipulating a sort of pedalboard or amp kit? at hand level on his left (could not see it properly – John Cale case # 9 it read).... one minute he would be playing the viola, one minute that play station and so on... And this went on for quite some time. Whether it was on purpose or whether he could not achieve the desired effect remains a mystery. Anyway, when the point is reached that you seem to be fiddling with some audio tool more than with the actual viola it is time to switch to the guitar. I preferred the viola though.
Of course in this case the microphone stand had to be re-adapted... 5 inches to the fore. Where is Tony?? Ostentatiously our hero started a duel with the thing again, by pushing and kicking it! Oh come on. An unparalleled show-master he is... errr.. show-off!! Brilliant song in creepy laid back style, and crazy setting hahaha.
Leaving It Up To You was really wild!! with the authentic STOOOOOPs at ear-splitting volume. John was in splendid form for this one; occasionally slamming some white pedal of this toy-for-adults, occasionally eating his guitar pick... oops tricky!! I witnessed Peter Hammill almost choke on one years ago.
And during Perfect they rocked so hard that one of the many Spa
bottles - dangerously shaking on the guitar case - came down and
splashed half its content over the floor... and over the guitar
stand!! – the instrument of which was luckily in use. John saw or
heard nothing of this as he was in the heat of the song, observing
Michael and Dustin. Tony, trained to have a solution to every
problem, used the master's only towel to soak up the water, and
clumsily spread it on the floor while trying to stay out of John's
working space. How _dare_ he.. was he asking for summary dismissal?
Oh well it's the end of the tour he must have thought... He put the
bottle back where it came from.. (second mistake) and took refuge
behind the case.
It was funny to watch the amazed "what-the-hell-happened-here-behind- my-back"-stare when John turned!! But what could he do but put on the bright grin of indifference.
Even funnier when soon after this incident he decided that he was thirsty and could do with a sip of water... from yes, that very bottle. Yuk!!
The encore Chorale was particularly beautiful. Loved it! Then followed his other 'favourite' painter. :)
Goodnight Goodnight Goodnight indeed.....
But before he left, he introduced the band. After three months!! He
likes to do things in reverse, or better he has never become
convinced of the necessity for that sort of stage-ritual. But again
he saved his reputation by twisting it into a 'thank-you' rather
than an introduction so that he didn't have to make any concessions.
Great hilarity on stage:
"You can tell that it's the last night of the tour" says a triomphant John. "I wanna thank everybody, I wanna thank Simon out at the board ( he must be the Belgian last minute answer to Creed, who decided to quit the tour prematurely), and the other guy here, you can't see him but he's holding things together up here (oh so he wasn't so bad after all huh?), and that's Tony (Barret?) the tour manager, and these guys are Dusty on guitar, Michael Jerome on drums, and Joe Karnes on bass, and... <mumble mumble<... thanks, I'll see you soon."
Lots of cheering, clapping, and whistling. Then they all retired from the scene for good.
There had been speculations about the four giant microphones,
directed to the audience. Would the show be recorded for some future
purpose... a CD?.
Nah, he can always release live cd's or 'greatest hits' albums like some contemporaries who have exhausted all possible styles and subjects for songwriting , but JC is not ripe for that sort of retirement yet.
I said that he probably just wished to record the loud audience feedback for the homefront... as Evidence of how good they really were. :)
Tony wasn't going to get rid of his blackAcetate tour laminate, unfortunately , .. I believe it had become a precious relic to him. He showed me three different laminates one of which was a monochrome picture of JC (in the tradition of the Vintage Violence promo picture), and was manufactured in Prague for his birthday. Nice. Setlists were distributed for a last time, addresses exhanged, and then it was all over:( :(
'Fear no more the end o' a great band' I was told that the same configuration will be mobilised in the summer for the European festivals ... wherever they may be. I'm sure Hans will find out.