Live at The Riverside
March 9th, 2022
In the 70s, legendary DJ John Peel, Radio One, late-night, anti-style, stylist, taste doyen of ‘new music’ was big on Krautrock - pre-punk, prog rock’s last throw of the dice with high art, concept albums, ideas stretched across the ‘Rubicon’ riding the ‘Cyclone’ into the ‘Stratosphere’, and on to infinity and beyond. All that stuff. Seeing Tangerine Dream on their Cathedral Tour ‘75, well, you can see why punk smashed it down, kicked it over, and spat it out.
45 years on, we’ve all changed, the ‘Dream’... Well first off, £30.00 a ticket, small venue. Here’s a conundrum, ALL of the original members, are no longer ‘Dreamers’, a shock? Wiki says, in the 2000s the Dream were involved with video game “Grand Theft Auto 5”. Really?
Something else had changed, arriving as the Dream ambled out, applause all around. The bar was out of low alcohol beer. I ask you, what is Rock and Roll coming to? No low alcohol beer.
This was quickly forgotten in a wave of throbbing bass, pounding synth drums, and hammer blows of keyboards; two men, one woman, a lone violin; a wall of synthesizers, two screens for graphics, lasers, glitter balls, twinking, blinking, flashing, (where would prog-rock be without LEDs behind the keys). Red light, green light, yellow light, bright light yep, I was not disappointed, and nor were the crowd of bubble perms and bald heads, long hairs and bleached haired, finger-popping daddy memory chasers. The audience's choice of T-shirts were wall-to-wall Floyd tours, with a few from the electro festivals too.
As said I’ve got the 70s stuff, (50p in a charity shop now) and I know they’ve progressed, a bit of an oxymoron for prog rock, where too many bands are past rooted.
“Hello Newcastle” and we’re away through the full repertoire. 70s stuff vaguely familiar, updated, remixed, remodeled, familiar and refreshing, a favourite ice cream treat, rediscovered and savoured. Tempos changed as the years passed, and first the synthpop they’d help create tweeted, and flounced, and swirled in a show of hands in the air, claps, shuffling feet, and nodding heads. Delighted faces, lost in the music, slaves to the groove, dance-off, not chill out.
A well-built utterly professional set, that any Club DJ would applaud, a mid gig pace slow down a rest for the feet and ears. You can’t batter people to the floor for two hours, well, not normally.
Expectations met, ears and souls opened. Chats revealed concerns… No original members, was it a tribute band, hmmm? For me? Who cares, more than a tribute band, there were old tunes from the 70s heyday, but these were upbeat-ed, bass line syncopated, 21st C. dance sensibilit-ied new sounds, new beats and all the better for it.
The last two tunes, brilliantly played, hard as diamonds, electro heavy, left me a bit cold, and, as my mate Ron remarked, “All we need is foam, dry ice, dayglow wrist bands, and an E and were in Ibiza.” Did he have that glazed look? Who cares, he was enjoying himself.
One thing, if you do follow your curiosity and take a chance on Tangerine Dream live, it’s absolutely imperative that you stay for the encore, a sip of dexterous romantic memories driven by a violin weaving and fluttering, swooping and scratching across the decades, summarising the journey you’ve taken together. A chilled out, cooled off, slowed up, come down from 30 mins of hi-energy, hi-volume, beat-driven, delights of Techo-powered dance sounds.
The concert was nothing like the “Dream” 50 years ago, that’s only proper, after 50 years our experiences, hopes, fears, delights, and pleasures MUST have changed, and so have Tangerine Dream.
A better night than I expected in ways I hadn’t anticipated. There were sounds I hadn’t imagined and delights through the night. This was a brilliant electro gig, up there with Public Service Broadcasting and The Orb, whilst not musical brothers, these cousins share enough to be a ‘sound family’, but diverse enough to inspire each other.
Big hearts are there for the brilliance of the music, the build of expectation and power, and the sheer magic of the lights, camera, action of a great Riverside, big night, of big band, with a big Sound in Newcastle.
March sees a greatly expanded reissue of Elliott Smith's most critically acclaimed album Either/Or
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