The concert at Royal Albert Hall in 2010 lined up a string of dislikable tendencies, regarding the Tangerine Dream enterprise. The sound was muddy, and way too dependant on harddisks. Too many setlist repetitions, and a desperate lack of items from the Quaeschning catalogue. The cello quartet was nothing but amateurish acting, and the re-recorded classics were just awful. Und so weiter.
Also, the band simply had not the shadow of format to play up the venue. They probably had in 1975, so it was in comparision a rather sad affair. But obviously it also had something to do with me being burnt out, after eight year of intense fan cultivation.
Today I have a more balanced relationship to Tangerine Dream, but I stand by those opinions. It wasn't good, and all the recordings from the Zeitgeist tour illudes that vividly.
Fortunately, Edgar Froese took up exciting books again, after The Five Atomic Seasons, and the storm from the compilation hell had finally settled. The Sonic Poem Series delivered (to date) three outermost exciting and meaningful albums, with an optimized team spirit of musicianship. Let me mention the clever violionist Hoshiko Yamane, who gave the sound design an improvement of finesse.
The live album Gate of Saturn – Live In Manchester (2011) was breath of fresh air, in relation to the setlist, and a bit of an ear opener, upon a lot of long breaks, where I turned from TD fan to TD enthusiast.
And in the middle of May, I spontaneously bought a ticket to the London edition of The Electric Mandarine Tour. No time time for cold feet, or overlooking forward it, as work took up too much attention in the intervening period. I was firmly determined, not to have the bad experience from Royal Albert Hall hanging as a black cloud over my TD concert going activities.
With an unbreakable Sunday curfew at 11 pm, the band entered the stage pretty much on time, before the clock had struck eight. And with ”The Sensational Fall Of The Master Builder”, from the sensationally builded-up masterpiece, Finnegans Wake, the tone was set.
Even in ”Dolphin Dance”, Edgar Froese seemed more participating, and I swear he played some of the melody lines live. Actually it seemed to be the most live concert, since Chris Frankes farewell concert in 1987.
What has bothered me with TD concerts is the use of hard disk, where the pre-programmed parts appear utterly muddy, and hard to decipher from one another. This night, it seemed to restrain itself to bass lines, some rhythm tracks or sequences.
I sat on the balcony (level 2), and the speakers were placed so the sound was send in direction to the audience seated on the floor with the stage in front. Anyway, I reckoned that some of the synthesizer instruments stood out, and were livelier than I remembered them from previous concerts.
Totally unexpected came “Cliffs of Sydney”, where Iris drummed precisely and devoid of congas, bongo or other percussive catchpenny show-off. The synth washes covered the listening audience, with great evening delight.
One of “Logos (Part 1)”'s very strongest moments was upgraded with power chords, rapid keyboard solos, so I had an unreleased tear in the corner of the eye.
The twang guitar dominated, sentimental counterpiece to “Le Parc”, “Ayumi's Loom” resounded uanbashedly in the Empire, like it did at its launch in Northeim 2009. Beautiful.
And honestly, I hoped that the tracks from Views From a Red Train, finally had suffered a silent death in live connection, but with “One Night In Space” and Bernhard Beibl's orange Ibanez guitar, I was persuaded once again. It also was one of the major subjects of conversation during the break.
First set was rounded off with the allround great composition ”The Silver Boots Of Bartlett Green”. Another example why Thorsten Quaeschning is the right man in TD, and almost too good for the band.
And what an excellent way to end the set.
Especially because I start to lose concentration af 1½ hour and everything after two hours is a waste of time. This time it was like attending two concerts, and no lack of concentration appeared.
After the break Edgar Froese played the intro the classic “Ricochet Part 2”, with a few, odd detours, before Thorsten Quaeschning pushed on the buttons of his tower of a Schrittmacher sequencer. A roar from the audience wasn't oppressed, I can assure you.
If the first set was refreshing, a parade of over familiar live tracks followed after “Ricochet Part 2”. It probably worked for a small majority of the attendees, but Tangerine Dream isn't a hitbased rock and roll band, but an electronic one, that can not vary the tracks outrageously much from performance to performance. And to think of that much of the audience is recycled material, the setlist of the second set should contain more previously unheard live tracks. Whatever “Lady Monk” did again, and even in a messy version with Thorsten and Iris on drum duet? It wasn't as good as they probably had in mind. But a minor complaint in the final sum.
Eighties pearls like ”Das Mädchen Auf Der Treppe” and ”Warsaw In The Sun” (with piano intro) were welcome re-entries. “Teetering Scales” were basically a backing track to a jam session between percussion and violin, and suitably weird, as it can only be when it is approved by mastermind Froese's curly mindset.
“Stratosfear” was pumped up to Satrianic dimensions, and even I considered it a bit vulgar. I was however caught by the fascination, that left the jaws of the remaining audience dropping on the floor.
Vivaldi's “Winter” was boldly and quickly squeezed in before 11 o'clock. It was just as kitchy as when Jean-Michel Jarre played it with China's answer to Yngwie Malmsteen in Beijing, sometime in 2004. But it was oddly enjoyable, and the lead instrument was a violin this time.
The concert coincided with England versus Italy. In Edgar Froese's closing remarks, the final score was requested. Not because he had the slightest interest in the result, but because he wanted to thank the audience for showing up, and probably, being a mischievous spoilsport, and ruin the result to whoever was so silly and record the event. Those final words were surprisingly funny, and one could sense why this live band have lasted so long together.
Tangerine Dream has previously triumphed at Shepherd's Bush Empire. In 1996, 1997, 2001 and 2005. It was a bit of a homecoming to see them again, seven years after the very first time. Few not so brilliant moments were present, but ultimately an amazingly convincing experience.
· The people in London were surprisingly interested in talking about Tangerine Dream. The taxi drivers, the bartenders, the receptionist and the questionnaire lady at Gatwick. I felt at home. In Denmark no-one grants my T-shirts a look and drops a quick remark. Probaly due to ignorance or general lack of interest in music, or people in general.
· It was fantastic to see the old faces at the pub before the concert. But it was primarily people from UK. The fans from other parts of Europe probably attended the shows in Belgium, Italy and Germany. And there's also the upcoming tour for the fans in the States.
· A strict anti-photography policy was executed, which probably was annoyance to some, but most people respected. I think it is the way to go. Some were also against the smoking ban at the music venues (in DK). It is so distracting with all those lights from the smart phones and telephones. The band can hire a professional photographer, while all we have to do is to concentrate on enjoying the music.
· No CD (Cupdisc) was released on this occasion. Not from TD, but the the guitarist Bernhard Beibl. Completely unexpected, he had released a potent, progressive instrument heavy metal compact disc, on the same height as something John Petrucci or Marty Friedman can deliver.
· Avoid Ryanair, Norwegian or easyJet. Take the ferry or the train whenever is possible.
Setlist (as provided by "TDEye")
1. The Sensational Fall of the Master Builder
2. Dolphin Dance
3. The Cliffs of Sydney
4. Song of the Whale, Part II
5. Ayumi's Loom
6. Logos 2011
7. Marmontel Riding on a Clef
8. Oriental Haze
9. Love on a Real Train
10. Underwater Twilight
12. Going West
13. One Night in Space
14. The Silver Boots Of Bartlett Green
1. Ricochet 2012 (excerpt)
2. Hoël Dhat The Alchemist
3. Lady Monk
4. Long Island Sunset
5. The Blue Bridge
6. Alchemy of the Heart
7. Warsaw in the Sun
8. Horizon (excerpt)
9. Teetering Scales
11. Das Mädchen auf der Treppe
12. Loved by the Sun
13. Stratosfear '95
1. Vivaldi's Summer