It must be hard being a Jamie Lidell-fan. All this shifting of genres, from soul to funk to pop, it makes it very hard to support everything the musician does. His concert in Paradiso last Wednesday was surprising, but made clear why Lidell should get his recognition as a stellar musician.
Probably lots of people came out for the blue-eyed soul singer and were confused to see only a futuristic DJ-booth on stage. Instead of performing with a band, Jamie went on stage by himself, with the technology-overloaded booth as his only tool to bring his most recent 80’s pop sound to life.
Critique on the show was that it wasn’t ‘live’ enough, and that Lidell was ‘just pushing buttons’, but this overlooks the ways in which he was exploiting the endless possibilities of the devices in front of him. Singing through two microphones at once, mixing different effects on them, looping his own voice, everything: the rigid techniques become live and funky as soon as Lidell puts them to work. Regardless of the confused audience, there certainly was one person enjoying it, Jamie Lidell himself. And while it might be hard to enjoy all of his music, one should see his endless ways of innovation, in the studio and on stage.
Last night I went to see Theophilus London for an exclusive concert in Undercurrent in Amsterdam. The vibe at Undercurrent was great with free Tia Maria cocktails and a beautiful setting with tables and cool lighting. All the tables got left alone as soon as Theophilus London hit the stage and it was clear to see why: the man knows how to raise the energy and change anything into a cool party with his bassist, another rapper and a DJ by his side. Though I wasn’t musically overwhelmed, because Theophilus’ singing was alright and his rapping was as well, I was blown away by the energy he and his small crew put into it and the way in which they got all people that came out to have a good time and dance. I would have liked to see the more musical, perhaps more R&B-ish side of mr. London as well though, which he has, with some more singing instead of rapping and requesting people to dance, but the night overall was great. The vibe was perfect: with some drinks to good music and then dancing to the incredible energy of Theophilus London, I had a good time.
Yesterday night I went to see Balthazar play in Utrecht, in Tivoli to be precise. My main question before going to see the Belgian band play live was how they would be combining their first album ‘Applause’ and their second album ‘Rats’ as both albums are pretty different, though both incredibly good. They did precisely what you expect a good band to do, they made sense of both albums and made the crowd understand and like both albums equally.
Here’s a video of Balthazar playing at Noorderslag, they played the song pretty much the same yesterday.
Though Balthazar’s more uptempo and more catchy songs are pretty much all on their album ‘Applause’, the songs of their second album ‘Rats’ fitted in brilliantly and they took away my doubt about the differences between the two albums. Why? Because Balthazar is one of the best bands I have seen playing live, giving every song their all and anticipating each other like few bands can. The way in which the four - not counting the drummer - members of Balthazar sing together is incredible, going back and forth between two lead singers and often singing with the four of them beautifully. Balthazar turned out to be one of the few bands I’d happily visit a concert of for the second time, and third.
Yesterday I went to see dream pop duo Beach House in Amsterdam’s famous music venue Paradiso and was amazed and overwhelmed. When you listen to Beach House’s music, you’ll hear dozens of thick musical layers, echoing guitars and Victoria Legrand’s sultry and beautiful vocals, but, despite of all the layers, Beach House is just a duo. I was afraid that they wouldn’t be able to convey the emotion and beautifulness of their music when playing live, but they did, very successfully. Even more so, they seemed to touch the audience more than they have could with the studio recordings.
Here’s a video of Beach House performing Myth at Letterman with the same set-up as last night.
While the contact with the audience was minimized, it was clear that the duo, accompanied by a drummer, was enjoying every single bit of what they did. Playing mainly material from their last two albums and getting many cheers for songs of the second-last album ‘Teen Dream’, the duo plus drummer managed to play their songs more beautifully than anyone had ever heard them. The most stunning performance was that of their ‘hit’ Zebra and, though at times some songs might sound resemblant, they proved that they don’t only write beautiful music, but that they can perform it beautifully as well.
How often does it happen that you get to see a band play in your hometown only less than a week after they have picked up a Mercury Music Prize for the best album? For me it doesn’t happen too often, so I was overjoyed to go see Alt-J yesterday night. Though they have been applauded for their first album, at least by the Mercury Music Prize, the critiques have been mixed and mixed feelings is what I am left with after seeing the band’s show too.
Here’s the video of yesterday that 3voor12 streamed live on YouTube. You can watch the whole concert.
One of the critiques has been that the young band is pretentious and that their music is coffee table music made for the masses. I don’t agree with that. ‘An Awesome Wave’ was great, both being musically great and being a new wave in the alternative music field. The band showed true musical skill playing their songs live yesterday, even including Slow Dre, a mash-up of Still Dre and Kylie Mingoue’s Slow, but didn’t seem to have fun doing all that. They had very little contact with the audience and added little to the songs as most of us knew them, but still proved that they are great musicians and write great music, though an overwhelming concert, it wasn’t.