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Lowry Theatre, Manchester, 28 May 2011
The 'Gate of
Saturn' was Tangerine Dream's theme for this one UK date. While I was
pleased they were there, I am also intrigued as to why it was just the
The presentation was professional. Dare I say, efficient? Set lists were
placed on our seats and when the curtain rose, we discover the full
stage set up of three synth players, founding member, Edgar Froese
(keyboards and guitar), Thorsten Quaeschning (keyboards and sequencing),
Bernhard Beibl (guitar), Linda Spa (keyboards and wind instruments) ,
Iris Camaa (percussion) and Hoshiko Yamane (electric violin).
Tangerine Dream are visually a tour de force. Yes you read that right.
Now a six piece, three absolutely stunning and talented women are what
greets a TD audience today. This was in stark contrast to when I last
saw a TD trio play with their backs to the audience in 1980. My seat was
positioned in front of Yamane and Camaa and I was unashamedly bewitched.
Well I am a heterosexual male after all!
Quaesching too engages the audience with little nods, smiles and
meditative stares. Froese cut a dash of Richard Harris's 'English Bob'
in 'Unforgiven.' But that's by the by. When I spoke to him for GRTR!
Radio recently, he'd confessed to dropping the lasers as people were
complaining that this was masking the music. Que? It just goes to show
that you just can't please some people, and the philosophical Froese has
simply resigned himself to that fact.
The music was literally out of this world. Drawing largely upon excerpts
from the new album, 'Island of the Fay,' TD sequenced their way through
some heady subject matter. The first set was bookended by two of the
best 'Fay' compositions, 'Marmontel Riding on a Clef' and 'Darkness
Veiling the Night,' both revealing the none too shabby talents of the
I have a theory about electronic music. And here it is. The human ear is
tuned to recognisable sounds which are vibrations against air. Once you
introduce the wild and wonderful synthetic sounds and blend them, the
human brain starts to have difficulty in identifying the melody and the
rhythm. In the past, this disengagement might well have turned off many
potential followers. But TD have now achieved the Yin and Yan.
So by introducing 'real' instruments like violins, flutes, clarinets and
drums we can discern the central mission of the song while the
sequencers provide the movement. That, to these ears, is a marriage made
in heaven. Looking around the room, many of my fellow audience agreed,
some of them nodding and others meditating to the wall of sound which
was, at times, glorious.
Bernhard Beibl's guitar also reminded us we were watching a rock band,
with some fine shredding. Part Two kicked off with a bang, 'Astrophel
and Stella' tapping away at our body rhythms . 'Alchemy of the Heart'
from 'Booster IV' with its doom laden piano overlaid with classical
arpeggio was a roller coaster of emotions, Beibl's guitar work and Iris Camaa's percussive dance propelling us into our own little worlds of
wonder. Linda Spa's captivating clarinet and flute work came to the fore
on 'Long Island Sunset.'
'Dominion 2010' was probably the minger of the evening, its three chord
hook sounding more like the theme tune to the Champion's League Final
that incidentally competed with this event. Sadly no 'Yellowstone' which
originally featured Clare Torry of Floyd fame. Occasionally real vocals,
rather than the sampling, might have added another dimension but these
were minor beefs.
My main question was the ticket price of £46. Now let's look at this
purely from a business angle. Edgar Froese isn't a casual tourist. But
then again, I couldn't help thinking that a £30-£35 price and three of
four more dates at smaller well promoted venues in the UK e.g. the opera
houses at Buxton and York and maybe Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall plus a
showpiece London gig would ensure liquidity for both artist and fan.
More punters should be able to experience what I did.
The Encore was four strong with the haunting 'Fay Bewitching the Moon'
being the highlight, only because it is pivotal to the current Tangerine
Dream sound. Beauty and rhythm. Let's have more of this stuff.
My main message though to Edgar Froese though is that you can win and
you will win the cynics over with sets like this. If this line up is
kept stable, TD will destroy those misconceptions at the drop of Herr
Bravo Tangerine Dream. Many bands busy themselves with visions of hell.
This instead was a glimpse of heaven.
Marmontel Riding on a Clef/ Death in the Shadow/ Logos 2011/ Culpa Levis
2010/ Living in Eternity/ Calumet/ Cycle of Eternity/ Ayumiís
Butterflies/ Sallyís Garden/ Darkness Veiling the Night
Part Two: Astrophel and Stella/ Mombasa/ Fire on the Mountain/ Carmel
Calif/ Long Island Sunset/ A Snailís Dream/ Dominion 2010/ Alchemy of
the Heart/ Morphing