Live at The Albert Hall 1972 review

[alert_box type=”info”]Written by Lady Bangla Boom, taken from the May 1972 Phonograph Record Magazine.[/alert_box]

“I really must apologise for this P.A.,” the Captain said to his Albert Hall audience, “I’m sorry, really sorry.” The audience fell silent – “I’m not THAT serious,” APPLAUSE – “but I am very sorry. The next time I am here, I will bring my own PA.”

The long awaited concert was sadly marred by hired PA. trouble (stop me if you’ve heard this story). The Captain was visibly upset by the strange noises being emitted from the massive ($$$) system, and in the middle of one composition, he flung the microphone to the floor. He retrieved it quickly, “Well, I might as well sing through it. What can one do when one is far from home without one’s own PA.?” he pleaded. “SING MIRROR MAN!”‘ offered the audience.

“Is that the solution?” the Captain mused.

The concert was an event, to say the least. Beefheart’s set was opened by a ballerina, followed by a belly-dancer, which in a rather abstract way (if you’re into it), demonstrated the Captain’s dual personality. “He has the voice, stance and build of a Chicago gangster,” observed DJ Andy Dunkoid, “his suit is even cut gangster style. But he’s very kind and gentle so he puts flower appliques on the suit.”

The Captain did his set, obliged the audience with an encore, then marched, triumphantly offstage swirling his long cape behind him. It might have been the end – but it wasn’t. While the houselights were being brought up, Beefheart strolled back on-stage to thank the crowd for their patronage and pay a sincere tribute to his friend, DJ John Peel. Then, of course, a Beefheart oracle:

“When I become a famous star we will still be able to look each other in the eye, because our feet will be on the same ground.”

I’d feel rude not to mention the Magic Band who were superb. Bassist Rockette Morton was being an energetic rock star, while Zoot Horn Rollo preferred to hop in place. (Also on bass – Roy Estrada). I most enjoyed the drummer (whose name I can’t for the life of me grasp) who, for this auspicious occasion, wore a brightly coloured pair of panties on his head. The Magic Band don’t know anything about the word “can’t,” they simply thunder through each composition in a way that would give conventional musicians a bad case of stage and audience paranoia.

I won’t be surprised if England doesn’t see the Captain for a long while after this. After all, it’s not just another night out, it’s a special occasion and they don’t happen all that often. Thank you Captain, you were too much.

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