had the opportunity to see three '80's era's band (ok, maybe late '70's) over the past month. two of them came through town as headliners, the other opening for a band they spawned. each one offered something a little different.
so the question is: can you repeat the past?
well, you can, but some shouldn't try. the Charlatans UK (Monday May 22, 2006 Phoenix Concert Theater) put on a decent show that could have been great but ended up being mildly disappointing. the songs were all there, the sound was fine, but the lead singer seemed narcissistically detached. if the spotlight wasn't on him he was like rainman, just babbling away with the crowd and dancing spasmodically, seemingly unaware there was a concert going on about him. his 'rock star' gesticulations were more reminiscent of mick jagger with parkinsons (is that an oxymoron?)or that 'pretty fly, white guy' from the Offspring video.
of course that may have just been me. I was only tangenitally aware of the Charlatans when they were active. i'm paying homage more to the era than the band by being here tonight. in that way perhaps I am the artifact. as for the stage affectations, my interpretation may even be out of context if the band is playing the part of their name. that would be way cool as a schtick. maybe I missed the macro joke. wouldn't be the first time.
Rating: 6/10. nice venue, good sound, just missing a little heart.
which brings us to the Buzzcocks (Saturday June 10, 2006 Phoenix Concert Theater)who definitely weren't lacking anything in the attitude department.
i reviewed our evening with them farther down this blog and mention them here to juxtapose them against the other two bands. this band seemed happy just to be on the road and have someone show up. no sense we were obligated to be anything to them (in terms of deferential or reverential), just be there sweating with the boys. biggest surprise of the night was that their new songs sounded like their old songs, which was a good thing. Rating: 8/10
bauhaus (Saturday June 24, 2006 Molson Amphitheater) may have had age working against them but at least fashion didn't leave them behind...too far behind that is. there was an aura about this whole appearance, opening for a band that copped their attitude to a large degree. seeing them on stage, with the 'black and dark' motif, dry ice factory working behind them, everything brought into focus with blinding white spotlights, you could see where the likes of NIN and Manson got their stage shows.
visual highlight of the evening was lead singer Peter Murphy standing on a bank of amplifiers, white shirt billowing in the strong wind as dry ice gave the stage an 1880's London feel. Peter bends from the waist, his black pants and boots invisible against the stage backdrop, and seems to be floating, or suspended, arms waving, disembodied, like Jonathan Livingston Seagull heading for a cliff. this exact move was replicated by Trent during his set with NIN. can't tell if it was a passing of the torch or a kiss-off.
biggest disappointment of the night was not getting our share of their monster songs (they cut out Transmission, Telegram Sam and Bela Lugosi's Dead). a disservice to their meagre fanbase. these were dropped when the opening slot cut down on their stage time by a half hour. they did throw us a bone with a decent version of Ziggy Stardust to close the show. early in the set we had "She's At Parties", but overall it was light on the hits, such as they were. bauhaus' new songs also sounded like their old songs but unlike the Buzzcocks, that wasn't great news. they are heavy, turgid songs. it takes time to break past the overbearing sense of despair to find any hook to hang your hat on. at least with Bela Lugosi's Dead, I've had a couple decades to wade through the murkiness. Rating: 6/10
next up: Wilco and Whale Watching
coming in August: Raconteurs, Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, Jonny Lang and Robert Gordon.
coming in September: Bob Dylan (?), Virgin Fest w/ Raconteurs, and more Raconteurs.
coming in October: John Otway from NYC
coming in November: ?
coming in December: Levon Helm Ramble