Trevor Horn And The Art Of Noise - Live
This report was written and submitted to me by Jeff Grote. Thanks Jeff!
"I'm a longtime fan of Art Of Noise, and I was extremely happy to be able to attend the AON show in San Francisco last night. [October 7 1999 -ed.] I thought that this might be an appropriate forum for telling other interested parties about their show...
They played at a club owned by Boz Scaggs called 'Slim's'. The posted occupancy is about 550 people, and I would estimate that it was close to capacity last night for the AON show. It has a nice sound system, and a very intimate stage with few lights/effects. The dj started spinning at 9 (eclectic worldbeat, house), and the band went on at 10:30. Lol Creme's setlist was taped to the floor before the show, and I wrote it down. It was exactly this:
out of this world
something is missing
moments in love
'rapt' in the evening air
intoxicated - roni size
on being blue
greatest hits medley
[jeff's note: they played 'peter gunn' here, but it wasn't on the setlist.]
il pleure (false end)
la flute de pan
dream in colour
All of the intricate electronics and drum parts came from tape, with Lol Creme playing rhythm guitar (far left), Trevor Horn playing a stand-up bass and an electric bass (center left), two dj/engineer guys [probably Tim Weidner and Justin Fraser - ed.] at mixing desks (center rear), Paul Morley waving a hammer (center front), Anne Dudley playing a Kurzweill P88 and Novation Basstation (center right), and Amanda Boyd singing operatic vocals (far right).
The sound mix was good, and the band really clicked, especially in the slower tracks. They mixed 'Beat Box' and 'Close To The Edit' into the same track, called 'Greatest Hits Medley' on the playlist. Several of the songs were unfamiliar to me, and appeared to be techno/trance tunes with Paul Morley taking a prominent role in them. 'Something Is Missing' was a sort of trance number with a Kraftwerkian 'computer world' chorus: 'email, fax, telepresence, anonymity' kind of stuff. In my opinion, the Paul Morley vocal tracks did not sound like Art Of Noise. They were brash and monotone, while (imho) traditional AON tunes tend to be richer and more melodic. One particular highlight for me was seeing Trevor Horn play the bass parts for 'Beat Box' and 'Moments In Love'. He played both of them on an acoustic stand-up bass, and he played it very lovingly. The latter part of the 'MIL' bassline (with the running 8th notes) was impeccably done, with Trevor concentrating hard, and the crowd in a trance. They actually did the "now, now" break (with the "army now" sample), and each member of the band said "now" in different registers while the crowd all shouted "now, now". Several drunken fans near me kept screaming "we love you" to the band, and they kept laughing and smiling at the crowd.
I must say that I don't believe Paul Morley provided a positive contribution to their presentation. He narrated the show (a la john hurt) and continually bantered in a monotone, stream-of-consciousness mode during the songs. He was dressed in a big, high-collared, black frock, and he waved a large black rubber mallet/hammer throughout the show. He seemed to have believed that an AON gig was an opportunity to do stadium-rock posturing, and so he was leaping in the air with his legs splayed, adopting the jesus-on-the-cross pose, running back and forth across the 10 meter stage, and generally trying to look like pete townshend - - all while twirling and waving a hammer. *during 'moments in love', no less*!! these histrionics seemed to cool the enthusiasm of the crowd around me, as he very obviously was making an ass of himself. (It was so embarrassing that I had to avert my eyes at times.) Since i was in the center, about 5 feet from the stage, I could watch the 'personal dynamics' of the band, and it was clear that there was some bad blood up there. Dudley, Creme, and Horn were constantly exchanging glances after another bit of Morley's histrionics, and they looked alternatively shocked, embarrassed, or puzzled. He'd sometimes jump into the air to punctuate a musical cue, and then there wouldn't even be a cue and he'd look foolish. Creme usually looked disgusted, Dudley often looked embarrassed, and Horn looked shocked/amused/bewildered. I got the impression that they didn't expect him to act in such a way. Also, I might add that Morley verbally expressed some dissatisfaction onstage. Around the time of the 'greatest hits medley', he said (in sarcastic, bitter tones) that the band couldn't move forward because 'it always had to come back to Beatbox'. He also said that he didn't want to play the next song because it was 'shameless egotism', but that 'she forced them play it' - - and then they launched into 'peter gunn'. Anne Dudley just looked at her keyboard, and the rest of the band looked grim. That was a bad scene...
[Ed. note: There has been a rather big discussion on the ZTT mailing list about Paul Morley's part in the show. While some people agreed with Jeff, others stated that Morley did a good job in making the show exactly that: a show, since the other players did hardly move and just concentrated on playing their instruments withouth interacting much with the crowd.]
Anyway, I was glad as hell to have been there, if only to see Trevor Horn doing his thing. Morley introduced him as "chairman of the board", and indeed he was. I hope that the Morley behavior was just a symptom of opening-night nerves, and that he won't subject everyone to it. Hope you get a chance to check it out!
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