I didn’t like this place. The bouncers searched us roughly on the way in; then, after finding a table to sit at, we were constantly harassed by cocktail waitresses, hassling us to buy overpriced drinks. All this just lowered my opinion of Richard Branson and Virgin, who owned the place, even further. It was a bit of a shock to see Beefheart when he came on. He’d aged a lot in 5 years, and had a kind of world-weary resigned air about him. Instead of the grand entrances of old, he just ambled quietly on stage. The first thing he said to us was “I
This was the same year as Knebworth; same line up and similar set. I was pleased cos I’d managed to persuade 23 friends to come, and we were sitting together in 2 rows near the front. During the interval I caught sight of Beefheart walking behind the curtain at the back of the stage. I jumped up and shouted out. He stopped, turned, looked right at me, smiled, and gave a very slow deliberate wave. This made my night. The music was absolutely brilliant; similar to Knebworth but tighter, although Beefheart seemed preoccupied and worried about something. Several times during the set he threw the
Pink Floyd were headlining. Other acts were Roy Harper, Steve Miller Band, and Linda Lewis, who’d had a big hit with “it’s in his kiss”, though I swear she sang at Knebworth “it’s in his thing”. Beefheart was introduced by John Peel with the words “Here he is, the guv’ner, Captain Beefheart!” The drums beat a couple of times, and they launched into a gloriously lurching, cacophonous version of “Moonlight on Vermont”. There were two distinct reactions from the audience. The Pink Floyd fans put their hands over their ears and looked at each other as if to say “What is this shit?!”. The Beefheart
I had bought the tickets well in advance, and was eagerly awaiting the gig. We heard shortly before the gig that the band had quit, but the tour would still go ahead, so we were unsure what to expect. All credit to Beefheart and the band for putting together a show in such a short time, but what we got was a competent rock band, that tried their best, but they just weren’t “magic”. The support band was Henry Cow, whom I liked, but most of the audience were restless, and talked through the set. The biggest cheer they got was when someone threw a
The line up was the same as the Brighton ’72 gig except for Alex St Clare instead of Winged Eel Fingerling. The concert started with Rockette Morton with an electric toaster straped on his head. He said, “Good evening. My name is Rockette Morton. I’ve just come on to do a toast.” Then he leapt into the air and played a short free form solo. He went into the riff from Mirror Man and the band joined in. Beefheart came on playing the harp and exhorting everyone to their feet. Hundreds of people left their seats and ran to the front of the stage. It
I was 17. I’d been a fan for 2 years and had all the albums, but this was to be my first (and best) concert. I travelled the 25 miles to Brighton on the back of my mates Yamaha 100 motorbike. The first thing I remember is all the weird and wonderful characters in the audience: people with plastic ray guns, someone had an inflatable robot, and one guy was dressed up like the Trout Mask sleeve, complete with shuttlecock. The support band came and went. I can’t remember anything about them. There was an air of excitement and anticipation in the hall that was
Personnel: (Beefheart & Magic Band) Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart): vocals, harmonica, Chinese gongs, soprano sax; Jeff Moris Tepper, Richard Snyder: guitars; Eric Drew Feldman: electric bass, synthesiser, keyboards; Robert Arthur Williams: drums; Gary Lucas: guitar on Flavor Bud Living. (Ulmer Quintet) Ulmer: guitar; Julius Hemphill: saxes; Olu Dara: trumpet; Amin Ah: bass; Calvin Weston: drums. Inspired is a word which is frequently misused, particularly when applied to an event or a concept. Yet the pairing of Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart) and James “Blood” Ulmer can be described in no better fashion. Performing before a capacity crowd one chilling night after Thanksgiving, Beefheart
5 and 6 December 1980.
This live review was written by Tristram Lozaw and originally appeared in February 1981 Boston Rock. Pressed in a recent Lester Bangs interview for something he could compare to his music, Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart named the “speed and emotion” of works by artist Franz Kline. Beefheart seems to rely on shapes instead of notes. Word sounds instead of lyrics. Equations that don’t necessarily balance. Approaching music as the artist / sculptor he is, Beefheart’s communiques are more often directed at his band (his canvas) than the audience. A painter doesn’t throw a swash of color onto his creation and then talk to
29 January 1981
“You either love it or hate it,” explained the guy standing behind me to his wary girlfriend during Captain Don’s blistering set. “It’s the weirdest music I’ve ever heard, but I love it.” I don’t think the friend was convinced. Captain Beefheart certainly is an original, and with his new band (guitarists Jeff Tepper and “Midnight Hat Size” Snyder, bass and keyboard man Eric Feldman and drummer Robert Williams) he’s launched on a retrenching operation, basically abandoning his sometime commercial attempts and heading for the woods of experimentation again. From the moment he walked onstage with Feldman’s roaring bass solo as fanfare and stuck the
Don Van Vliet, who is better known as Captain Beefheart, writes some of the knottiest, most extravagantly off-center music ever played on amplified instruments. One can remember earlier Beefheart concerts and be familiar with his recordings and still be unprepared for the sheer physical impact of two or three electric guitars, bass and drums hammering out rhythms that seem to trip over themselves in perfect unison, and of Mr. Van Vliet declaiming helter-skelter in a voice that veers edgily from a falsetto hiccup to a buzz-saw rasp. Captain Beefheart has been writing this knotty music, and teaching it to various editions of his Magic Band,
14 November 1975.
DON’T BELIEVE what your mother tells you kids, there really is a Legion of Super Heroes. Quiet, mild mannered, and sensitive he may be, but Don Van Vliet is also the Spotlight Kid and with Drumbo and Winged Eel Fingerling he beamed down to London to save us. He also saved his sagging reputation. Forget the self pity that’s haunted the Captain for the last couple of years, he’s once again the gargantuan figure that gave us “Trout Mask Replica” and “Clear ‘Spot”, and if his new material is anything to go by (from the up and coming album with Frank Zappa “Bongo Fury”) he