2 weeks ago
Saturday, May 1, 2010
"Djalma with ticket signed by Wes"
The Incident in Charlotte
The air was right for the performance of the year in Charlotte, NC at Amos's Southend. A small club but a fun place to see a show just the same. As usual we went to the venue 2hrs prior to doors. Upon arrival we discovered there were several die hard Porcupine Tree fans that had the same idea as us. There was a couple who traveled all the way from Boston to see the show, a girl with Christian Dior glasses who had been there since 1pm, and another fan who claimed to have been from Philadelphia was there hoping for a pre show glimpse of the band.
Myself I brought the fan that traveled the furthest to see Porcupine Tree. Djalma came all the way from Sao Paulo, Brasil. He had planned to come mid summer for a visit but since this concert was announced for the end of April he decided that it was in his best interest to arrive in time to see this tour.
We were all huge fans standing at the door ears pressed against the metal to hear our favorite band doing the sound check. What a great sound it was coming through the doorway. Gavin was pounding out the heavy beats to the center section of Anesthetize, Steven was hitting the heavy chords, and the band sounded tighter than ever. Our excitement increased as we heard them playing a few short samples from the night’s song list.
Amos's Southend may be a small little dive of a club but one thing for sure is they know how to process the people and get them into the venue in a quick and easy fashion. The residents of a Blank Planet club were most happy about the fact they were going to let them in 15mins prior to the rest of us. Fair enough for those who paid that extra fee for this added perk.
Flash forward to the gig. The opening act was very good and Damon Fox of BigElf was enjoyable to watch with his top hat and keyboard antics. I really enjoyed seeing them play live. A mixture of ELP, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and early Deep Purple was their sound. Damon had some major keyboards on both sides of him and he played them much in the same fashion as Rick Wakeman. Their sound was good but at times a bit loud and distorted. However the band really did a nice set and was complimentary to the upcoming Porcupine Tree set.
After a brief set change “The Tree” took the stage at just after 9pm.
Prior to their appearance was a recorded announcement to please refrain from taking any photos or recordings of any kind. Cell phones, iPhones or Blackberry photos included. If you are caught you will be asked to leave the venue. Bummer for me I just got a little point and shoot to catch a few photos of the show. However I decided it best not to be asked to leave so I avoided an incident and watched "The Incident" in its entirety.
The boys entered the stage and from the moment they did you could feel the energy in the air. Steven greeted the audience letting us all know how much he has enjoyed our town. He also commented that we should feel free to hoop and holler with excitement however please save it for the parts where the band is rocking out. Fair enough I would say.....and the band begins....
They played the Incident in its entirety the full 55mins of Disc 1 which is the formal album. I would have to say that I liked seeing it performed in full live. It gave the album a new dimension,one that I had not gotten from listening to it before. For me this album has a lot of atmospheric elements, experimental sounds and some amazing controlled cacophonic parts that really come together during the live experience. Both Richard & Wes were prominent in the mix and I enjoyed this a great deal. I had a hard time hearing Richard's keys before on the “Fear of a Blank Planet” tour in Raleigh a few years back.
Steven was in full force playing his wild disconnected chords, heavy rhythms and some really incredible emotive lead guitar as well. He would often grab an acoustic to fill in the softer parts and Wes would move from supportive role to lead guitar at that point. Steven also did some amazing work on the keyboards too. I loved the keyboard he had on stage this tour. It reminded me of an old wooden roll top desk found in my grandmothers’ living room, converted into a keyboard stand.
For me the cornerstone of The Incident was the song Time Flies. The song seems to pay homage to the music we grew up listening to like Hendrix and The Pink Floyd. The song took on a beautiful visual and aural dimension live even with the makeshift tiny white sheet they had to use for the projections, due to the stage being so small. They made due with the limited space Amos's had to offer them. Both Colin and Gavin were hidden behind the PA system speakers from our balcony view.
After they finished the Incident portion of the show they took a 10min break which was timed by red LED countdown clock on the screen.
The band took the stage and with The Start of Something Beautiful they tore into the second set. I really enjoyed this song. Then they went into Russia On Ice which has some amazing Barbieri synthesizer going on. Both he and Wes were laying down the layers of sound on this one which made it quite beautiful. I am so glad they opted to keep that in this set list. I know they are changing around the second set to keep it fresh for each performance.
The next song was a bombastic version of the center section of Anesthetize! I turned to my friend from Brasil and stated "This is what I saw on the last tour!" Gavin was blasting out the beats on his drums and the band was really cranking at this point. Steven was playing a lot more lead guitar than I saw him play on the Fear of a Blank Planet tour. I was really amazed by how tight the band was this time around. They were tight before but seemed even tighter now.
Next Steven announced they would be playing an old song that was not from any formal album. Stars Die was wonderful.....I hope that those of you who see this tour get to see that played live. From there he went into the song Normal and then Strip the Soul. I love this song it's so heavy and Steven really tore it up on this one.
The final song was Bonnie the Cat which comes from Disc 2 of The Incident. A very cool song, and again it has some very strange parts to it but this came across well in the live setting. Steven thanked us for coming out to make their first time in Charlotte a memorable one. The place was quite full and I am sure was close to the 1100 person capacity. He said they would be back to Charlotte again and next time with the full visual production. So maybe they will play the Fillmore next time round. It is a good bit bigger than Amos's and would lend itself better to their stage shows.
I am not sure where this actually happened but at one point Colin came over to Steven with the vacuum cleaner and started to vac his feet as he played. It might have been during the Encore portion of the gig. They did play two songs "The Sound of Muzak" & Trains. I know there are a lot of long time fans who have seen the band play Trains one too many times. But for my friend who came all the way from Brazil to see the band had never heard it live and they did a great version of it too. I think it was on Trains that Steven even forgot the lyrics for a moment. This was great because no one is perfect and even the fantastic Mr. Wilson is known to goof up. But he laughed it off and got back into the groove quickly.
After the show we waited out by the bus and eventually Wes came out to greet and sign some items. I know a performance as heavy as this might be hard and need decompression time afterwards so I was not expecting to see Steven. It was nice that Wes did come out though. He is so gracious and such a friendly person. Always takes time to make each fan feel as if he knows them. He posed for a photo with both me and my friend from Brazil. Wes also commented that he had been to Brasil twice himself and it was beautiful. This gave my friend hope that maybe one day Porcupine Tree would play in his homeland. I think they might be as shocked as RUSH was to see how many fans they have there.
Thanks to the Tree for the Incident! You made my day, my week, my month & my year by coming to Charlotte! Also a shout out to you all by Djalma from Brazil he says it was one of the highlights of his life!
Peace & Music in 2010!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
"The Beauty is in the Details"
Fabio Zuffanti does it again. He is quickly becoming one of the new masters of music, with his extensive range of styles and techniques in the studio. His new album "Ghiaccio" translated as Ice is a wonderful work of art. The beauty here lies in the details. This is not an album you put on and rock out to one you put on the headphones and relax to after a long hard day at work. Let the music envelop and wash over you like the smooth waters of a gentle flowing river on a warm summer’s day. Lay back and bask in the beauty of this music.
Take note of the many layers, vocal treatments, percussion, beats, and orchestrations. Zuffanti is quickly becoming the master of many styles. His band Mashera di Cera is a wonderful exploration and continuation of the rich lush Italian symphonic progressive music. It harkens back to the 70's and the golden days of Progressive Music...yet it takes off from there and continues on into the new millennium.
But we are talking about his solo work here. Ghiaccio is a beautiful work of art that starts out simple and subtle and slowly progresses through the song list. As the album works its way into your mind you really start to understand its purpose. The lyrics here all sung in Italian and I am at a loss for what he is singing about but I don't even need to know. Each song takes on a beautiful life of its own yet the entire album works together as a cohesive unit. The way each cut starts out subtle, grows and flows and decays in rhythmic beats and electronics and voicings. There are some wondrous layers to this music and more will be discovered on the 2nd and 3rd listening, this I am sure of.
His multifaceted percussive beats know when to be bold and when to be tame. In ways it is similar to Hostsonaten another one of his other band projects. There are many beautiful works in that catalog to check out. However this music here delves more into the experimental micro ambient, electronic, beat genres and yet he tosses in some orchestrations for added flavor. This reminds me of the things that some of my favorites over the years have done to keep the music sounding fresh, new and transcend genres and cultural barriers.
I have only a slight criticism as a fan who is disconnected from the creation of this work. From the outside looking into the world of Ghiaccio my only desire was to hear a little more live percussion and some tasteful guitar. That would have given it the other .25 to be a ***** 5 Star for me....but with that said I give this a solid **** 4.75 and strongly suggest adding this work to your collection.
You can purchase it here. Directly from the artist himself!
Or if you are in the USA and are concerned about overseas shipping you should get it here:
Peace and Music in 2010! Michael A. Inman
Thursday, April 15, 2010
"Of the Italian Symphonic Progressive band la Maschera di Cera."
There is something to be said for bands that play music like they did in the 70's but add a new flare. La Maschera di Cera has taken the old and mixed it up with the new and pushed it out into the cosmos with their new title: Petali di Fuoco which translated means "Petals of Fire".
For those of you who grew up in the 1970's you will really appreciate this lush music. It's nice to see bands like this emerging in the 2000's. They harken back to days of old and add in new styles for a nice progression into the new millennium.
The lyrics on this album are all in Italian and somehow I do not seem to mind a bit. In fact I think there would be a lot lost in translation. The accent, the power, and the structure of the Italian language adds a dimension to this music that would be lost if translated into English. I am glad that Alessandro Corvaglia sings the lyrics in Italian they have much more power. And this is all about the POWER and the GLORY here. How can you NOT be moved by this voice....it's so rich and full of life! If I had not seen them live this past summer in Chapel Hill, NC at Progday I would still say the same thing.
The addition of Matteo Nahum on guitar is nestled nicely in the mix of Andrea Monetti on flutes and Agostino Macor the mastermind behind the rich layers of keyboards. Matteo's playing is often reminiscent of Steve Hackett in the glory days of Genesis. Tasteful yet not so overwhelming that it overpowers the song. Macor's keyboards are beautiful as well...he even adds in a bit of Keith Emerson's Classical style to the mix.
Andrea is without a doubt one of the best flutists in music today. He has the power of Ian Anderson which adds a Tull like dimension to the sound. And on the softer side he can make you float off into oblivion with his playing.
Let us not forget the amazing mastermind behind the band, Fabio Zuffanti on bass. Fabio's precise playing combined with Maurizio di Tollo's hypnotic style of drumming fills out the bottom end of the band. They are the glue that holds it all together. Petali di Fuoco is la Maschera di Cera in their prime here.
The opening track Fino all'aurora showcases Alessandro's dynamic voice. I heard that he was once in a Genesis cover band.... but listening to him sing here, he is doing much more than covering old sounds or rehashing old vocal patterns that even Peter Gabriel doesn't sing anymore. He brings LIFE to the music! People this band is not playing oldies or doing cut and paste performances of rehashed Genesis here!
They are taking elements of classic 70's music and mixing it with their life experiences and coming up with something New Bold and Dynamic. BRAVO to Mr. Zuffanti and the gang!
I could give a track by track breakdown here but I think that you should buy it yourself, put on some headphones and get ready for the music to take you away. I love many of the older Maschera di Cera releases but there is something about this new release that takes all of that, mixes it up a bit and comes up with what I would consider to be their swansong!
Get this new release and support this band they really are amazing and should be a lot better known around the globe than they are. If you don't believe me take some time and listen for yourself. You will be glad that you did!
Peace and Music 2010 - Michael A. Inman
You can get the new album here
Saturday, March 13, 2010
First let me start by saying I never thought I was much of a poet. But through my studies in Art at UNC Charlotte I discovered a love for poetry. With it's many styles Poetry is an amazing art form. Here are a few Poems I created while attending UNCC.
along the contoured landscape.
Wandering like a mountain stream
plummeting over the cliff
into the abyss.
Large flowing bodies
of continental crust.
Fresh brine free origins
the scent of memories
rippling rapidly past.
A southward migration
adds salt to the wounds
The healing begins
a new horizon.
A southward continental shift
and the evaporation of pain.
The cycle continues…
ahhhhhhhhh lifes sustaining force!
FREE VERSE POETRY
Definition: "Free verse is a form of poetry which refrains from meter patterns, rhyme, or any other musical pattern."
See what you get from this Free Verse poem...Please comment below:
Feeling – anger of our role in Iraq
A visual catharsis?
Graven image toppling--
a choreographed sham
purging of guilt.
Skewing the worldview
simulacrum of an era past.
An olfactory whiff of
burning innocence deadens
the sound of victory.
Reddened capillaries swell,
“The Morals of Morel’s”
The forest opens
Sun shining on the fresh
their trickery eludes me,
like 4 leaf clovers.
Refocus, unblend, stop looking!
It appears….a solitary one.
Springing into view
the forest floor unfolds.
Alluding at first
like a relationship’s search.
When you desire you cannot see.
When you find one many more appear.
Hundreds of them lifting out of life’s fog,
Waiting for your greed to take hold.
To be devoured or cast aside?
Which one to pick?
Their stems hold the key to their truth.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I know it's been a while since I have written anything on my blog and I am sorry for that. First I have had to upgrade my PC to a new model due to a bad logic board and several other key components. However the Tax return check came just in time for this to happen. Sure am glad for that one! I have a brand new pc I had built at this great little store in Charlotte. I found them over 6yrs ago through a friend who built my last computer. Make sure to stop by and check them out here
I am posting some of the Adobe Illustrator designs I have created over the past few years. The process is very intuitive and it only turns out to be representational as it develops. I don't start with anything specific but rather create a singular shape....add outlines,color,textures and more. Then I rotate, duplicate, twist and turn it around till I see something I like. Often I create a shape and don't use it but come back to it later and use it in another design. Combining things to make something totally unexpected.
I love doing this kind of art because it is very reactionary in a specific moment in time. Nothing is too sacred but often times very spiritual things come from it. Often I see something in what I am designing and I develop it further and the end result "IS" very representational of a common object. This is only by happenstance that this occurs. I have never started out to draw anything specific but often along the way I see something and go with the flow.
Does that make sense? Does anyone else know if there is a name for this kind of thing? If so please comment:
For now here are a few more things:
(Make sure to click each photo so you can see it in large format)
Saturday, January 9, 2010
The Paul Green's School of Rock Alumni do it again! Julie & Eric Slick (bass & drums) a brother and sister team who have made their claim to fame by being the glue behind the Adrian Belew Power Trio. Forge out into new territory teaming up with Eric Slick's Project Object bandmate Robbie "Seahag" Mangano for this new instrumental Power Trio known as Paper Cat. And a Powerful Trio they are......
With the Slick’s having just recorded their first album together with the elder Belew, it is evident that the rhythm section of this new trio Paper Cat, have really honed their chops. Doing so by gigging endlessly crisscrossing the United States, Canada and other assorted parts of the globe for the better part of four years now. Fresh off a recent Russian tour the Adrian Belew Power Trio has Playing in festivals and sharing the stage with the likes of Tony Levin, Eddie Jobson and his project U-Z, Umphrey's McGee and many more. As well as contributing their own precision elements of bass and drums to Belew's well orchestrated instrumental 5 part suite entitled "e".
The duo of Eric & Julie recently shared the stage with The California Guitar Trio contributing some powerful back end to their sets as well. But on to new projects ….this duo does not set idly by waiting for the next Adrian Belew Power Trio tour....they dive into studio for this new project with Robbie "Seahag" Mangano of Project Object on guitar.
Recently the new trio called Paper Cat played a live gig in the Philly area and recorded it and Julie made it available on a website called Band Camp. Julie Slick has not only toured with the Adrian Belew Power Trio for the past 4yrs but she has also completed a degree in music engineering at Drexel University (with honors I might add). Putting herself through college by part time waiting on tables at a local Philly establishment when not in school and on the road with Adrian Belew.
Eric Slick is just as busy as his sister, when not on tour with Adrian he has been doing gigs in Philadelphia, NYC and at Bonnaroo where he played drums for several grueling days and several shows a day with a belly dancing act? He also regularly sets in on live gigs with many well known musicians. He recently played NEARFest with Oblivion Sun the progressive rock band at 3pm and immediately following the NEARFest set he raced across town to do the set with sister Julie and The California Guitar Trio.
From reading various blogs on the internet I have discovered that Eric and Robbie were on an airplane and they created this hilarious version of a paper cat from the airline's vomit bag. Said Paper Cat… appears on the recent poster for their live set at the Kyber and on their new My Space Page Here
There you can catch 3 new tracks recently recorded at Studio Slick (Julie's studio) where she has also been recording and producing the music for her boyfriends band Cheers Elephant. But let's not forget the band at hand...Paper Cat. Take a listen for yourself to the 3 new tracks recently posted on the My Space page and it is evident that this new instrumental trio is maturing as we speak.
I love the sonic sounds the band has been creating in the studio. The first track titled Spider Song starts with Julie hammering out a nice bass riff......and Eric coming in on his drums....and then the attack is on Robbie comes in like a machine gun on the guitar.....and the trio is off and running on this progressive journey. Robbie's playing is very crisp and well planned...this is a band that is really thinking about what they do before laying it down in the studio. There are elements King Crimson in the mix but it's not a copy by any stretch.
Operation: Desert Storm starts out with some nice melodic guitar.....but you know there is an attack coming somewhere in the near future. The bass starts to brew up from the mix and the drums start marching in for the kill that you know is about to occur. And YES they launch into a total guns blazing attack, Robbie laying down some very sweet tones that remind me of elements of Mr. Jimi.....I bet this is a total hit in the live shows.
The dynamics of sound on the ending create the scene for this desert landscape. Slowly winding down into the sweet eternal oblivion, a place that can only be truly found in the calm after this desert storm.
Novembeard starts with Julie ripping in with some very in your face bass resembling the way that Tony Levin does in Crimson. While Robbie comes in with some sweet harmonic tones which you know are going to develop. Meanwhile Eric is not setting by doing nothing either...his sense of timekeeping is well planned out in the proper progressive instrumental fashion. But before you get too relaxed Robbie begins his guitar attack once again. This song has a nice groove to it and I really appreciate the various textures going on here. Julie is laying it on thick in the low end, her bass is constantly ripping and bubbling out of the background at times sounding very much like Tony Levin. Just as you wish this song would go on forever it is over all too soon and hopefully like me, you are left longing for more.
Well this band has certainly stirred my progressive soul and I am hoping for a whole album sometime in the very near future.
Peace & Music,
Michael A. Inman
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Power Trio – Asheville review
Where do I start here! This was an absolutely wonderful show. From the trip to Asheville, the good food, friends from far away lands, and the culmination being at the Power Trio performance.
As usual I drug my friends to the show my excessive 2hrs before door opening time. This time my good friend was visiting all the way from Sao Paulo, Brasil. Talk about perfect timing on this gig happening while he is here.
The weather was gorgeous with billowing clouds, Carolina blue skies, and tiny rain showers lasting so briefly that you hardly noticed. We arrived at the Orange Peel venue about 5:15pm for a 7pm door opening. Usually there are people who arrive at least 1.5hrs early but this time no one showed for almost 1.45mins which I found quite strange.
I was hoping that the venue would not be lacking for attendees this night.
Adrian deserves a good gathering of friends to see him perform. I think that the final turn out was better than the Stella Blue gig last year though. While we were waiting in line several people started to show up just before doors. It was nice conversing with other fans that’s one of the reasons I love to go to concerts early. I often find that I am standing in lines with several whom I have met at shows past.
One of the attendants came out to check the ticket scanner and asked to scan my ticket to make sure it was functioning. All systems were a go and at that moment I decided to check on my camera being ok to bring in. I have been to many Adrian Belew shows in the past and cameras were always allowed. The manager or show manager said it was ok as long as it was not a pro lens. (mine was) I did some fast talking and got her permission to bring in the camera provided I did not use my flash. (fine by me I like natural stage lights)
Her name was Anastasia and she went by Stashia for short. She told us of her youth and traveling with the Grateful Dead and all she knew. I mentioned that my friend here is from Sao Paulo, Brasil. She told me that I would be getting a wrist band with VIP access to the front side of the barricade.
Finally we were let inside the venue and I quickly raced up to the stage to get the optimal photographic spot for the gig. Sort of in front of Eric and looking at Adrian from the right side of the stage. (less microphone blockage that way)
The warm up band was Nerd Parade out of Atlanta and they were incredible! It took me quite a while to realize that the bassist is Rich Schmidt also a member of the Adrian Belew Tribe yahoo discussion group. The drummer was great he was very cool to see playing. He seemed to love those Surf beats and the guitar had many styles. They were a great act for an opener and were most gracious to Adrian for allowing them stage space to play. I would like to see them perform sometime when they were a headliner.
Now enter….The Power Trio……seasoned by yet another year of playing on the road.
WOW what can I say here they were stellar! Eric’s drums were in perfect view of me from where I was. He was in a great spot to get a lot of good photos of him. Usually the drummer is behind his drums and is hard to get a shot. His kit was positioned side view for us on the right side.
Julie was playing her usual subtle stage presence but a monster of style and tone. Barefoot again and playing the hell outta her bass. I was able to get several decent shots of her over the course of the evening. I got to go in front of the barricade to take some shots which was extra special for me.
Adrian was in rare form as usual his playing was spot on that night! He is one of the most underrated guitar masters of this century. Such a joy to watch and so fun to hear him playing. I think he has finally found a guitar that he will use for the rest of his career as a musician. That Parker Fly Adrian Belew Model is one in a million with it’s wild interfaces build for the Line6 amps. He comments on how he never breaks strings anymore and how no matter how hard he uses the whammy bar it never goes out of tune.
After all he IS the Twang Bar King!
The Trio played several off the new album “e” and I can consciously say they played a,b,c, and e for sure and who knows but possibly they played d as well. The new cd is a 5 part song cd. a-e and e seems to be the culmination of the parts a-d. A very progressive instrumental jam it is starting out with a mellow acoustic sounding “a part 1” and building to the song e where all of the parts seem to gel together for a monstrous conclusion.
I do remember him playing The Lone Rhinoceros which he said has not been played before or in a long time anyway. I also remember Three of a Perfect Pair as well. The audience singing along at the top of our lungs. What a joy it was and such a treat for my buddy who came from Sao Paulo Brasil to visit.
After the show I was talking with Robin at the Merchandise table and Djalma came over in a frantic state saying come quickly! Stashia wants us to come backstage! How cool was that… we got to go backstage and visit with Adrian, Julie & Eric a bit before they came out front to sign things. Adrian was so gracious as always and he thanked Dj for coming from such a long way. He took time to pose for a photo of the two of them. This is something that will go down as one of the best times of Dj’s life I am sure. Not too often do you get the chance in Brasil to see people like Adrian Belew play so this was an extra special treat.
We also got to give Julie some jewelry that Dj brought from Brasil. There were a few bracelets and necklaces made from seeds by South American Indigenous people. She was most gracious about this and shared with her mother at a later time. In the excitement of it all I forgot to get my photo taken with Adrian so during the signing I asked him for the preverbal photo op. He said that it is not too often that the photographer gets to have HIS photo taken. What a great guy he is as he always takes time to make each fan feel like they were appreciated individually.
This was truly the best Adrian Belew show I have seen to date as they keep improving with age like a fine wine. If you have not yet had the opportunity to go see them play live please treat yourself to this experience. You deserve it!
Here are some photos I took at the show.