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100 Club, London October 8 2010
unknown reason, most of the audience tonight didn't seem as if they were
actually at this gig. Sure, the band were there, resplendent in their
widdly widdly majesty, I was there, despite a bad case of a headache and
the two bob bits, and my friends came too - but for such a legendary
band returning to the stage, there was a feeling of subdued detachment
from everybody else in the 100 Club tonight I found difficult to fathom.
Way's recent departure has mattered more than people had hitherto
expected? And maybe the re-scheduling of a lot of last year's dates (the
full reunion) fudged the issue and detracted somewhat from the dramatic
can't fault Curved Air. They are simply magnificent, a shimmering,
tinkling oasis of psychedelic prog splendour.
Kristina - who takes to the stage for second number 'It Happened Today'
after an extended instrumental opener - may be older and less svelte
than in the band's early 70s heyday, and only Florian Pilkington Miksa,
who now resembles Bamber Gascoigne more than John Bonham, remains from
the other originals, but the essence, the core of that sound, which so
many strive for today but can't quite pull off, is ever present.
There are a
few fluffs and missed notes - and 'Young Mother', which I'm glad to say
still features the proper synth sound, should maybe have opened the set
instead of being dropped in about 20 minutes through with a rambled
introduction - but isn't that all the more rock and roll?
may be allegedly about ‘musical perfection' and virtuoso musicianship,
and there's enough of that on show tonight, believe you me, to make
one's jaw permanently hit the floor - but a little grit, rawness and
dirt under the fingernails always made the best bands of the era more
interesting, for me at any rate, and a loose approach to one's tightness
prevents musical sterility.
Not that any
of this is improvised, I mean we're not watching Mahavishnu here: but
the joy of songs like 'Propositions' 'Marie Antionette' 'Everdance' and
the chilling 'Easy' is the way they twist, twirl, carouse, slide and
sway round the ears - and tonight the band captured and replicated that
It's not all
space music either: 'Melinda More Or Less' is as plaintive an acoustic
ballad as anything from the late Sandy Denny's canon, 'The Purple Speed
Queen' an agitated blast of proto-glam-metaaal decadence, and hit single
'Back Street Luv' perfect pop in a minor key.
So why, with
the exception of the lone nutter in front of me who appears to be
yelling his own lyrics and offering, ahem, 'individual' between-song
interjections, is the audience so bloody indifferent? I know they paid
to get in, promoter Jim Driver told me they did!!!
all seen them in Sutton already a week earlier? Perhaps that explains
why the club wasn't as rammed as I've seen it recently. Personally, I
think ANY time spent in the company of Curved Air should be an event
worth looking forward to and treasuring.
And even if
he isn't Darryl Way or Eddie Jobson, Menuhin-trained violinist Paul Sax
(from Sonja's Acid Folk band) is a find: he tears through 'Vivaldi' with
all the abandon and vigour of one who's been in the band a lot longer
than he actually has.
jamming with guitarist Kit Morgan and keyboardist Robert Norton (who
seems to have all Francis Monkman's moves downpat anyway) during closing
number 'Stretch' ('what do you do when you get up in the morning?' quoth
Sonja: I was dying to shout 'have a wank and watch a sitcom', but
managed to restrain myself) seemed like the work of young musicians -
elfin boys maybe? - in a new band, proving that there's a future in all
this and not just a past. See you next week?
Darius Drewe Shimon
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