Sunday Apr 9
Last Updated on Monday, 5 July 2010 07:54
Written by
Monday, 5 July 2010 07:50

Belew motions for you all to come out to one of his shows and see his music. Photo courtesy Coming Age

Belew motions for you all to come out to one of his shows and see his music. Photo courtesy Coming Age

In case you readers in the South East region of Pennsylvania don’t know about it, there is a wonderful multi-level music club/eatery/radio station near the 30thStreet Train Station called World Café Live.  I have been there several times and even blogged about a couple of those experiences.  It is a really nice venue for artists who don’t require the impersonality of a stadium.  It is an intimate performance space capable of handling the loudest metal band to the most introspective and demure acts.

I’m positive Adrian Belew will plunk us somewhere right in between those two extremes.

Have you ever heard his low-end fuzz distorted guitar (reference the intro to “Ampersand” from his album Side One)?  When Belew wants to distort the guitar, GUARANTEED it won’t sound like any other guitar sound you have heard.  Belew has founded a career on sitting in front of a parade of effect pedals throughout his years as a Grammy winning sideman to folks like Paul Simon, Nine Inch Nails, and through a sample of his work with the little-remembered Tom-Tom Club, received recognition for his contribution to Mariah Carey’s song “Fantasy”.  So this guy has been utilized by acts ranging from brooding industrial to country to inspirational, either as the World’s Most Unusual-Sounding Guitarist or as a Universally Adaptable Producer, even as an Inventive More-Fluid-Than-Ringo Drummer.

Belew can, at the least, generate music.  That’s a given.  But you can give a bunch of monkeys instruments and even they will start to make “noise”.  Belew has the distinction of KNOWING to draw the line where music and noise intersect at a tastefully acceptable level.

You all know that “noise” (dissonance, disharmony, discord and distortion) is not only my good friend, but those descriptives in the parentheses are words that start with a D this time…  But also, I prefer off-the-beaten-path type music.  Belew knows what I like.

So if you aren’t doing anything on the evening of July 1st, and you can get yourself to the World Café Live in Philadelphia on that night, Adrian Belew will be there to not only create new improvisations using solo guitar and multiple effects, but he is braving the dangerous world of yielding the music to allow for an audience Q and A segment.  The relief to Belew comes in the knowledge that Robert Fripp did that very same thing when he performed solo at World Café Live a couple of years ago.  Those of you familiar with Belew, King Crimson, Fripp etc., know that for Robert Fripp to interact with an audience was unheard of at the time.

Belew will most likely enjoy the intimacy of the venue (he has played there before, most recently with his Power Trio) and with his gregarious nature, that segment will be worth the modest price of admission.  Quadruple your value should Belew decide to improvise the entire show, as those songs or pieces as I prefer to refer to compositions of music that are not verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-solos-verse-chorus type arrangements, are progressive in nature and usually instrumental, but Belew’s music that night may be the only performance of those pieces ever!  Unless Belew decides to record the shows during the tour, and release the best performances of the pieces on a CD, you might never hear from these songs again.  I’ll tell you right now, I’d buy it.  That’s how confident I am that Belew will entertain for my CD dollars. Die-hard Belew fans (like me) buy the autographed copies from Adrian Belew Presents.

To be able to see Belew in an intimate venue, knowing he will be doing an in-show Q&A, knowing that the pieces performed that night may be one-of-a-kind, improv-inspired, in-the-moment-only tunes, this show is starting to sound irresistible.

You can get details galore at Belew’s website, Google and ye shall find…

If you haven’t been to World Café Live, I need to relay to you a story about the acoustics of the room.  When Robert Fripp played there solo with his Soundscapes, often times it would involve Fripp hitting the string of the guitar and THEN pushing open his volume pedal to reveal the sounds that the magical rack of devices made.  Fripp’s setup enables one note played through the guitar synth to process that signal to sound like an entire chord played by the sampled instrument of your choice to the chord voicing of your programming.  The system is awe-inspiring.  Google DGMLive for a boatload of details on that effects rig called the Solar and/or Lunar Voyager, and Robert Fripp as well as his battles with the record industry and royalty/copyright payment collections.  But the point behind the grandiose explanation  of all this is, when Fripp struck that initial, unamplified note, BEFORE we could hear anything coming out of the PA, the house had hushed to a DEAD silence (as Fripp prefers it), when he plucked his string in the quiet house, you could HEAR the originating note acoustically from the electric guitar!!!

Do you know how quiet that is?

This was heard at least from the seats alongside the house sound cubicle.  So the room is tuned-to-perfection for Belew’s use of the Bose L1 Amplification System.  He utilized that as a form of monitoring among the Power Trio members on stage in front of his multi-amp set-up.  He ran his usual two Johnson 2-12 amps and a pair of Vox amps.  But it was hard for the Slicks who positioned themselves on either side of Belew to hear Belew’s loop.  Belew’s loops were a fairly large part of the trio’s sound.  The “gimmick” being there were three people on stage but you heard more.  For Julie (bass) and Eric (drums) Slick to follow the loops being played by Belew in order to keep everything tight, he uses the Bose L1 which radiates the sound around the originating speaker similar to an omni-directional mic picking up the sound from all around it, this amplified the loop and midi on stage for the members to sync-up to.

I still miss his use of the ever-popular Roland JC-120 amp.

Electric, acoustic or electric/acoustic as pictured, makes no difference to Belew... Photo courtesy Coming Age

Electric, acoustic or electric/acoustic as pictured, makes no difference to Belew... Photo courtesy Coming Age

So if you find he is playing at a venue near you soon, get tickets!  It is a nominal cost (at least the Philadelphia shows were not more than $30 each) for a show that is guaranteed to tender new music (that treasure of all treasures), a VERY entertaining and VERY humorous Q&A, a chance to see Belew up close, well all that is value for the money!


Opening, and if we’re lucky they will play WITH Belew during his set, will be one half of the Slick rhythm section of the Power Trio, Julie Slick!!  So that makes the World Café Live show extra special!

... Belew can wail and burn on any form of guitar! Photo courtesy Coming Age

... Belew can wail and burn on any form of guitar! Photo courtesy Coming Age

So in keeping with that extra special vibe, the blog for this show will be something special to our little blogstorm; in order to continue our quest to expand and evolve this blog, we are trying something new for this show, that being that we are going to focus on photos taken by our photographer Lynn Vala.  As Belew entitled this tourPainting With Guitar we felt it would be appropriate to christen our new camera purchased just prior to this posting by barraging the gig with photos and then doing our very first PHOTO BLOG (ATTENTION WEBMASTERS: PREPARE YOUR SERVERS FOR UPLOAD OVERLOAD!!!)!

Karma has a funny way of dealing the events of life.  When I approached the Adrian Belew Presents management team for a photo pass for Ms. Vala, I referred them to a couple of the syndicated sites with some of my previous work (as well as Ms. Vala’s work) after which Belew’s management asked for any of the photos we found to be publishable as they are in need of photos of Mr. Belew in action.

In the unfortunate event you CANNOT get to see a show (timing, relationships, economy, geography  parental, to mention a few…) fear not, wanting Belew fans, we are here to report on the who, the what, the where, the why  and the how.  We’ll bring you details, photos, info, info, info and maybe controversy (YIKES!)…

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