Friday Nov 3
Last Updated on Wednesday, 4 August 2010 01:34
Written by
Wednesday, 4 August 2010 01:34

(We left off last time with warm-up act Julie Slick during her set.)  Her last track, which I missed the name of, is another manic track.  With eerie synths, this time the track is louder than the bass, even with the harmonizer on the bass.  A fake-out stop can’t break her concentration; she counts it off, comes right in on time and wails to the end.

Belew and his trusty Parker Fly at The World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. Photo by Lynn Vala

Belew and his trusty Parker Fly at The World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. Photo by Lynn Vala

Ever shoeless, the thanks us and exits the stage having conquered it.  During the intermission she disappears into the crowd.

After a brief change over to remove Slick’s equipment for the most part, Daniel Rowland comes out and starts the show with a midi-generated track, but no Belew???

The device playing the midi has a display on it that illuminates in a monochrome yellow, similar to earlier computer games and screens.  Looks kinda like Asteroids.

I guess I will call this “Track One”.  But it just plays by itself, instruments sounding like pan flute and wood flute-type sounds.

Why are the ones I pick to follow so hard to describe?!?!?!

The addition and subtraction of instruments and tracks is the hook.  As the song fades, Belew takes the stage.

He starts off with the Bears “Doodle” from Eureka.  Where are Nyswonger , Fetters and Arduser when you need them???

As he leaves the loop playing he explains that he won’t be doing pop songs anymore as the song currently looping was stolen by a national hoagie chain.  He also explains his attempt to sue them.  Good luck Ade, I bet that hoagie chain has a team of skeezie lawyers.

At that point he goes into one of those trademarked squeally solos we all love.  Then he tries to play the two parts at once explaining that it being able to loop saves him the cost of a hotel room and per-diem.

Industry lessons, too much!

He breaks into a song from Side One called “Walk Around The World”.  Expertly playing the parts as the looper accompanies him.  As he attempts to break the song down he accidentally cuts the entire volume off.

Whoops!  That live thing again…

“Variations Of Wave Pressure” sounds much like previous gamelan musics Adrian has done before.  But he also adds that this song could not have been done three to five months ago, the technology used is THAT cutting edge.

Technology moves that fast.

He solos using a familiar guitar synth patch, it may be a variation of a Mizmar sound on a Roland Guitar Synth.  A patch I love.  Get a lot of mileage out of it.  He lets the loop die and finishes the solo.

And it STILL fills the house.

Back to counter playing with a delay…

It really seemed like Belew knew what we wanted to hear.  His old tricks as he spends some measures using the volume knob to rush up the signal from null.  Then back to some gamelan.  Belew then bounces in his chair to the beat.  It’s gotten to the point where I can’t keep track of where the sounds are coming from?  “When did he play that?”  He even makes wiping the guitar stings sound good!

Some car horns and feedback bring the piece back to life for one more animated go-round.

A very oriental-sounding backing track plays while Belew adds some sparse guitar.  This is a quick piece over which Belew narrates his discovery by Frank Zappa.  A hysterical tale about life with the Zappas follows, expletives deleted.

Q&A time!

Questions are posed about his guitar, his computer set up, then about the possible KC 1981 line-up reunion, a question about Talking Heads and a question I won’t repeat here.

“Europe By Rail” employs that device I described for the first song, which Belew has since identified as the Tenori device.  Surprise of surprise, this one has lyrics!  It’s gotta be released somewhere, it’s awesome!  His falsetto is a little hurt, but it is the last show of the tour…

The guitar starts to pan from side to side as the effect intensifies toward the end.

“Drive” is next from Side Three. A near perfect rendition, even including the nods to the Beatles “Within You Without You”.  The distortion solo section shook the house.  Now even nods to “Indiscipline”, MUCH longer than the album version.

Then a sparse, pianoless version of “Time Waits” from  Op Zop Too Wah and also on Coming Attractions.  Too bad that one wasn’t stretched out.

Belew then announces that his album e will be performed by an orchestra in Amsterdam.  He then attempts to play “d” from his e album.  After two times he gets his loop right.  After that, flawless.

He seemed pleased with it.

A second Q&A, more about the technology.  I won’t go into the technical details.  I find questions about technology and influences do not make for a good read.  What was entertaining was his diatribe about his painting “hobby”.

“Elephants” is offered next from Side One.  A distorted bass sound accompanies Belew’s squeal-fest guitar solo.  Complete with a sample of Ian Wallace from the disc.

“All Her Love Is Mine” again from Op Zop Too Wah is intimate but not lacking any of the power of the original, except with a new solo voice at the ending.

Very nice!

Another unidentified tune is up next.  It was full, with lots of pick slides and scrapes.  Again, some of this stuff is indescribable.  I saw it coming.

Belew then offers that if anyone buys the DVD of the Power Trio, he will send them one of the recorded pieces from tonight’s show, as he has been recording everything in his computer!

He ends his night graciously and with a bit of a techno-jam with his guitar triggering an after-touch generator.  Something usually a midi keyboard does.

Story of the night, guitar doing what keyboards usually do.

He invites people to “dance on out of here” to his improv.  We ain’t goin’ nowhere  Belew announced that he and Julie Slick will be signing the DVDs sold outside.

The plot thickens.

We decided to stay and take part in the signing.  I came prepared in the event (one thing I have learned, you never know when you can have your items “fetishized” as Fripp believes) he might sign my items.  I fetished my copy of the KC bio, the Japanese imports of Lone Rhino and Twang Bar King, and as I mentioned, the Julie Slick CD and the Power Trio DVD.

All the while MBTTEHTM is taking pictures upon pictures, but after the show stopped, and the writing stopped, she did not.  There were people taking pictures of her taking pictures of Belew.  All in all, she took over 1200 pictures that night.

And yes, I did eventually (when it seemed less endless) join the queue and spoke again with Birdwoman, let Julie Slick know I will be reviewing her portion of the show (something that I am notorious for NOT doing, when I reported on one NIN show, I omitted the Jane’s Addiction portion entirely).

But Slick garnered my interest.  That never-ending quest for new, good music.

Then there he was.  The guy in the flesh.  I had to do what I had to do.  I apologized to the man.  I shook his hand for the entire time and said it loud enough that the entire room heard me.  Hey, I wronged the guy.  I wanted to post a public apology when I wrote up the e review a few weeks ago.  They asked to preview it and asked that I remove it.  They forgot to ask to preview this so far, so I finally get to publicly announce that Adrian Belew and I are on good terms.  I can look at the stack of Belew’s discs that I have nearby for reference and verification (hey, some of those Side One Two Three titles get confusing) with the same pride I took in collecting them.

Upon reconciling, Belew suggested that I write nice things.  Would that I could, but sometimes the truth isn’t so nice.  But I can see why he would say that.  He is the most happy-go-talented guy in existence.

Thanks to a tremendous club, some other really nice people, and Adrian Belew and his people, Julie and Robin Slick, and their people, and I also want to thank Art Russakoff for his quality security work, and Amanda Newman for technical support. If any of Belew’s albums listed here interest you, remember, Scotti’s takes special orders.

I also think you may want to head over to Adrian Belew’s site for a complete list of artists that Belew has played with as a way to further connect with Belew, a way for you to realize, “Hey, I HAVE heard this guy play!”  Read more about him at and get the true scope of the permeation Belew has in modern progressive as well as pop, country, and other genres.  Take a look at his discography and you will be amazed.  Artists of all calibers call upon Belew for his most unique style and sound.

I wish I could have done more to promote what could wind up being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Belew admitted to the crowd he may never do this again.

Can’t say I didn’t warn you not to miss it…

© 2010 Coming Age and this website unless otherwise noted.

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