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Archiv der Kategorie: Concerts

Wassermusik 2013

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It was the first weekend of this year’s ‚Wassermusik‘ festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. And before I report on Dengue Fever and the Meridian Brothers, let’s get straight to the best concert I’ve ever seen (and probably will ever see) – the mighty Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra.

Now, if you can imagine Frank Zappa’s ‚Best Band‘ joined by Funkadelic AND Parliament you get only half the picture. On Sunday evening nearly twenty musicians entered the stage, led by the mad genius Daisuke Fuwa, who (one hand in his pocket, smoking a jazz cigarette, and taking mobile pictures of the crowd) more or less conducted. Two drummers, full brass section, plus a Theremin player in the first row, they were joined by Butoh dancers, go-go girls in Manga or Geisha dresses, and a half-naked frontman. They played what turned into one continuous symphony/jam/collage that included free jazz solos, epic Eddie Hazel-like guitar solos, ferocious riffing, always supported by a mighty funk rhythm, at times reminding of „Lotus“-era Santana – one climax following another. As their press release says, „We start with an earth quake, and build up from there…“

Halfway through they were joined by a 15-meter flying ice dragon (Photo by Harald Weißman, from the Haus der Kulturen Facebook page) that floated above the audience.

HKW IceDragon

Oh, and they had a ‚live painter‘ on stage, too, who filled a canvas with Mati Klarwein-like doodles during the gig. Fantastic.

They returned to the stage for an encore, which consisted of a three-second riff. Followed by a second encore, an old japanese fisherman song apparently (which nonetheless sounded like „Lonesome Cowboy Burt“ played by Ornette Coleman and George Clinton…)

Richard Hawley

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In fact, it should have been billed as ‚The Richard Hawley Band‘. The Festsaal Kreuzberg was packed, and we witnessed an evening of probably the most wonderful guitar music you can imagine. There was twang, shimmer, wah-wah, psychedelic distortion and beautiful melodies galore, played on a fantastic collection of vintage and custom guitars. And of course, that voice. He’s found his own style on the last two albums, but there’s still that Roy Orbison croon, mixed with a sharpness that’s especially fitting with the newer songs. As one Berlin newspaper mentioned, this was a concert with only first-rate songs – there were no ‚fillers‘ and even a nearly 15-minute rendition of ‚Remorse Code‘ seemed too short.

And, again, those guitars! Mssrs. Hawley and Sheridan complemented each other with gentle strumming, feedback noises and Duane Eddy-like choruses, building and extending the perfect mood for each song. Pure magic.

As for his announcements, there were no rude jokes between the songs this time, but Hawley came across as a down-to-earth guy you’d be happy to meet in a pub (he asked about the closing of the ‚Alt-Berliner Bar‘ round the corner), and at the end of the gig mentioned that they found this to be „our favorite show of this tour“. (Yeah, I bet you say that every night. Only joking.)