Monday, July 9, 2012

Tangerine Dream -- Howard Theatre - July 8 2012

Tangerine Dream - I need to offer my thanks to the uber-hot debut of the band Boston for my interest in Tangerine Dream. Back when I was in high school, Boston had sold out the Cincinnati arena they were playing on their initial tour. That did not deter 'the three Daves' from wanting to go. I found a guy at school who had a ticket but couldn't go, so he sold it to me for the face value of $5 or $6 (What did Radiohead cost again?). We did the hour drive to Cincinnati to see if we could buy a couple more tickets. Turned it out it was a sellers market with a hundred people combing the area looking for a seller. We gave up and I sold my ticket to the second person I responded to for $20 (the first couldn't afford $15). With this massive profit, we went out and got some chicken and then it was off to the record store to gamble on records I have not heard. I picked up "Stratosfear" and wore down the grooves by burning this into my skull. I have always liked this German synth band since, but I have not had the chance to see them until now. I find that odd since I have seen Kraftwerk and even Hans-Joachim Roedelius  here in DC before this.

On to the show... Edgar Froese is of course the center piece of the band. He has worked with another synth player for a while and has assembled four additional players on Percussion, Cello/Violin, Guitar, Keys/Saxes/Flute. There sound (and their look) was carefully controlled, but with some nice variations. A lot of different players and instruments came to the forefront depending on the arrangement. And did their guitarist ever take advantage of that. TD has always used effective prog rock guitar work as part of their songs, even as the synthesizers and sequencers were more the signature sound. This guitarist could shred with the best of them, but knew how to pull it back when needed. He was amazing. Froese showed he still had his guitar chops as he played on one song, trading nimble licks with the saxophonist. The live drums were also a fantastic touch as there was nearly always something going on there that enhanced the sequencers and synth rhythms (I love this style of electronic rhythm so much more than drum machine style beats). The violinist had her runs and also had rhythm portions of some songs which were quite strong. The synthesizers of course were the key to it all and the players stayed busy actually playing them and keys and not just letting computers do the work. The projections were good, stage presence excellent and it was quite easy to fall spell to the hypnotic music. Yet, the songs had enough changes and breaks that I never felt I was being droned to death.

Two full sets of music and with the encore, this band played for 2 hours and 54 minutes. Even while the house alarm briefly cut PA power, the band soldiered on.  Fortunately, Great White was not on the bill and there was no tragic story tonight--I did note the nearest exit. They closed with "Stratosfear" which was recognizable enough for me, but their treatment was completely mind-blowing. They let the electric guitar take most of the melodic parts and this simply roared with a power I did not know was available in that song. This arrangement was absolutely stunning as they updated this with full advantage of this band, which you could say for any song tonight. I don't have a set list and I am not sure it really mattered the way they played with old and new material, working it up in new yet recognizable ways. And if that were not enough, they came back with a great violin and band workout reminding me of Curved Air's "Vivaldi". They finished with the one song with vocals, an amazing take on the Doors' "The Crystal Ship". Edgar Froese, looking well worn but great with a full head of long gray hair, introduced the band, said a few words to a very appreciative audience, and took his leave. Like Van der Graaf Generator, hopefully this parting is brief and there will be another show.

Quote of the Night: From a person standing next to me... "I'd like to see more smiling".  Sheesh, glad you're not watching Kraftwerk.

Bad vibe of the night... The Howard Theatre mentioned this would be a 'standing show' when I bought the ticket. Their website confirmed this the day of the show. So I ate elsewhere before the show and arrived just before the starting time to see a full set of tables and a $10 minimum needed to move down there. Since I don't drink, minimums spent on anything but food are quite negative for me. I did stand in the bar area and had nothing. I hope they respect their customers plans in future.


Anonymous said...

I know that I would have been unable to stand for that long. I was grateful for the tables. The only standing show I have seen at the Howard is Bad Brains. I thought the programed and live percussion was monotonous and distracting. The few numbers sans drums with mostly percolating pattern snyths were the highlights for me. That is the classic sound. Glad I went, but I would have enjoyed more bones thrown to fans of their 70s material.

David Hintz said...

Fair points all, although I rather enjoyed hearing the different arrangements (but I agree that a few more older styled songs would have helped in the first set). I think I would have tempered my review a bit if they had not finished with such fire. It always helps when bands build to a great climax.