"But... I mean... jazz..."

Sonic Gloo

(with periodic conceptual continuity)

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Cale in Avalon
"But... I mean... jazz..."
cale1John Cale's show at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco (aka the old Avalon Ballroom) was a real solid, basic, rock and roll show. It would be easy to say that at his age Cale has nothing to prove to anyone, but, you know, that has ALWAYS been the case with John Cale. He is an artist first and does things the way he wants.  Accordingly this was a Cale fan's show more than anything and I wasn't at all surprised when a number of young hipster couples walked out relatively early on from their spots near the front of the stage as they realized the show wasn't going to sound just like the hip hop infused music on some of Cale's recent releases.

It was indeed interesting to hear Cale fall back the basic rock and roll quartet of drums, bass, guitar and keys vs. using all manner of pre-programmed sequencers and such. Cale has become quite the hip hop enthusiast so I was more than half expecting to hear a lot more triggered beats and samples 'n such. That was not the case. When they got to newer songs from his latest album, they were presented mostly simply as rock tunes, which was great on a track like "I Wanna Talk 2 U" which was co-written with Danger Mouse and on the album sounds a bit more dance flavored. This version fit right in with older nuggets like "Hedda Gabler," "Guts" and "Helen of Troy" (which got the crowd bopping along with its funky riffing on "hey hey, baby I f#@&ed your mother").

My favortie parts were of course the more songy-song oriented tunes, especially "Paris 1919" and "You Know More Than I Know," which were just wonderful to hear live. 

cale3He did do a bunch of new songs ("December Rains," "Face to the Sky" -- one of my faves from the new album -- as well as the title track "Nookie Wood") including some non LP tracks like "Bluetooth Swings" and "Cry."  He did a track from last year's "Extra Playful" EP ("Perfection"). He encored with some relative obscurities, including a track from 1985's Artificial Intelligence called "Satellite Walk," which was fun and very 80s dance music sounding. He closed the show with "Dirty Ass Rock 'n Roll," leaving everyone on an up note and also a reminder that as much as he may embrace hip hop and rap production techniques, at his heart Cale is still all  about the rock.  

So yeah, this was John Cale "just" doing what he does best, making music, rocking out and playing his songs. No fancy light show. Not a lot of screaming and no writhing on stage. No Velvet Underground songs. No songs from his collaborations with Lou Reed or Brian Eno.  We didn't get "Fear" or "Leaving it Up To You."  

BUT it was still prime John Cale and that was just great.To find him still making fine music is a blessing we should all cherish.  

Rock on John. Rock on. 

Here's a partial clip someone posted from the show.  Be sure to click on the links above for some other performances from the tour. 

here is the promo video for "Face to the Sky" from the new album

here is the song he wrote with Danger Mouse


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