Can (Solo Projects Live)
Review of their gig in the Olympia, Dublin, Sept 11 '99
have become very fashionable of late. There was always rumblings of it, with people like Julian Cope and Mark E. Smith
lauding Krautrock for the last ten years or so. But now Can are one of those bands listed as influences by everyone from
Blur to Autechere.
Three separate solo efforts by the original line up of the band seemed on paper like a pseudo's wet dream, and lots of chin stroking was to be expected in the Olympia.
I made it a bit late, and unfortunately, missed most of what I think was Holger Czukay's set, but we had figured that seven to eleven might be a little bit much of old German hippies banging away on stage in an (expera)mentalist, indeterminable guitar solo kind of way.
Maybe we were wrong. The tail end of Holger Czukay's set seemed pleasant enough, and then there was a rare treat. Irmin Schmidt, the keyboard player from Can appears on stage with a grand piano and one of those serious banks of technology you expect from the likes of Orbital or similar. The Steinway adds an air of seriousness to proceedings, as does his extraordinary playing. There is a book of poetry by Charles Bukowski called 'Play the piano drunk like a percussion instrument'. Schmidt's not drunk, but his playing is seriously percussive and rhythmic. He plays three or four pieces that cross the line somewhere between John Cage style contemporary music and the Aphex Twin. The crowd, and myself, more used to typical rock or techno, act as if we know all about the Stockhausens and Glass' of the music world and applaud enthusiastically. Maybe its time for this audience member to leave the Charlatans and the like behind and start getting cerebral.
Michael Karoli is another key member of Can, but you know what lead guitar players' solo efforts can be like, and his set is more like what I was expecting. Hiding at the back of the stage, with his jacket thrown over his shoulders in true Germanic fashion, what can only be described as guitar noodlings issue forth. The music isn't unpleasant and again, it is the rhythm that seems to be important, but remember why punk happened. So he switches to violin, and it's more of the same, a pick-up band of proto hippies dabble along, and I nod my head (man).
I'm being a bit unfair; I own a couple of Can albums and like them immensely. Karoli's group is the most like the Can I listen to, but there's a difference between hearing something thirty years old and hearing it right now. We've all seen it with the resurrection of Blondie, The Velvets, and the Sex Pistols. It is never quite the same the second time round.
Also check out CLUAS reviews of other gigs that took place
under the 'Transmissions' banner. Namely Sparklehorse from the USA, Tindersticks from the UK & Cornelius from Japan.
Have you checked out the stuff going down on the CLUAS Discussion Board?