Monday, December 28, 2015

R.I.P. Lemmy

BB King and Lemmy in the same year? What kind of world are we going to leave for Keith Richards?

To be honest I was never a huge fan of Motörhead, in fact I think I like the idea of Lemmy more than I like his brand of heavy speed n’roll. But that’s not to say they didn’t make some kick-ass records. And their catalog contained at least half a dozen hard rocking numbers which have become classics. Yes, they never strayed from their formula but like AC/DC or the Ramones, that was one of their appeals.

I only got to see him once with his legendary band. He was no longer the strong, imposing Rock demon but he wasn't yet the frail old man that health problems turned into a shadow of his former self. That is not how he should be remembered.

All his life, Lemmy was rock and roll incarnate. His persona wasn’t fake or manufactured: he really was this cartoon character of a rock star: uncompromising, larger than life and hedonistic yet surprisingly deep. Our friend in rebellion, living hard for the rest of us mere mortals, stone deaf forever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

King Crimson @ Olympia, Paris - September 20th, 21st and 22nd 2015

Last time I saw King Crimson was twelve years ago, and the band looked and sounded very different. They were a quartet playing very futuristic music, with electronic flourishes and metallic undertones. They are now a seven headed beast, including three (!!!) drummers positioned at the front of the stage.

Crimson has never gone the obvious route, or done things the usual way. Which is why they are the only band to have kept advancing. But now for the first time, they are allowing themselves to look back.

Which doesn't mean they have adopted a retro approach, and which certainly doesn't mean this is another exercise in nostalgia from reunited old rockers. In fact, Fripp has assembled personnel from various previous eras of the band as well as new blood in order to better shake things up. Old compositions are given a clever re-imagining, while newer ones are introduced to an audience who came in knowing not to hold on to expectations. Lasciate one esperanza, voi ch'intrate.

Three nights in this venerable music hall, three nights of pure music with slightly different set lists. There is no star, no focal point: all the musicians are flawless, committed and inventive. And there are no highlights: all compositions are equally thrilling, with breathtaking moments of tension leading up to a climactic release.

Until recently it was looking unlikely that King Crimson would ever play again, and that we'd have to get our supply of Crimsoid insanity through one of their offshoots like the wonderful Crimson ProjeKct. Thankfully Robert Fripp is an unpredictable fella, and King Crimson can live and breathe again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Who @ le Zénith, Paris - June 30, 2015

On the hottest day of the year, five thousand people decided it would be a good idea to step into a closed space with no air conditioning and dance.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Billy Idol @ Zénith, Paris - June 22, 2015

Last time Billy Idol played in Paris was 22 years ago when he was in his Cyberpunk phase. He is back to promote his new record Kings & Queens of the Underground. He plays four songs off of that but most everything else are hits and classics. The guy knows what the people want. And what the people want is Steve Stevens. As crucial as Billy's voice, melodies and the new-wave synthesiser motifs in his songs is the quintessential eighties guitar shredder who melts faces with his insane solos but always serves the song. Good tunes played note-perfect by a professional band led by a charismatic leader... Contrary to what Adam Sandler said in the Wedding Singer, Billy Idol gets it.