Magic Band are go!

The Magic Band played at The Scala in London on Wednesday night and blew its stacks, as has come to be the norm at their amazing reunion shows.

A couple of videos are available on YouTube (thanks to Ben for pointing these out):

Ian Archer sent along a scan of the set list which he managed to get John Drumbo French to sign:

Ian comments:

[wp_quote]What a joyous occasion – great to see the guys looking so well and sounding as good as ever. The band seemed pleased to see us as well.

The Floppy Boot stomped down and that long lunar note floated again.[/wp_quote]

The tour continues in Dublin, on to Liverpool tomorrow then Bristol, Falmouth, Nottingham and Leeds follow.


  1. Yay! seeing them in Liverpool tonight.

    btw the Minehead date no longer exists due to the rescheduling of All Tomorrow’s Parties, but instead TMB are playing the Thekla in Bristol tomorrow night (Sunday 4th Dec).

  2. You can always tell an authentic group by a handwritten setlist with a few scibbled changes. No getting the tour manager to type it up on his laptop…

  3. Going to see them in Falmouth tomorrow (tee hee) will try to take some photos and post them online. would love to be going to Bristol tonight but times is hard as they say.

  4. Yep, fabulous night at the Scala last Wed. Exciting to see them so tight and together…but I must have been one of about 8 women in the audience…

  5. Awesome again at Bristol tonight. Dare we hope for another tour around the March ATP rescheduling ? Anyone know ?

  6. Towards the end of the gig in London French said that they will be back ‘in six months’. I don’t know if he actually meant March, but it would make sense to do some other dates if they’re coming over for ATP.

    Just to add to what everyone else has said, last Wednesday in London was great. I’d never seen any Beefheart music performed live before and French’s singing was nothing short of astonishing.

    Were there eight women there? As many as that? ;-)

  7. Having travelled down from Glasgow, I spoke to Eric the new guitarist (a mere 29) after the Liverpool show. He said they’re would indeed be other dates wrapped around the re-scheduled ATP, in March.
    Incidentally while Lord Boswell is quite correct regarding the setlist, a better organised band would have had their latest album on the ‘merch stall’. Phoned the venue for showtimes and was told they would come on at quarter past ten and finish around half eleven. decided to go along an hour early to support local band The Wicked Whispers who’d organised the gig. As we walked in, The Magic Band arrived on stage so be warned! Gripes aside they were on fire! A long set but no Mirror Man, SZS or Gimme Dat Harp, Boy!. Encore was French doing Orange Claw Hammer!

  8. Petitwazooo – you don’t want to believe a word any venue tells you about start times…

  9. Saw The Magic Band in Falmouth last night – a great show. Fantastic to see this unique music being played with such accuracy, passion and commitment. I had to laugh in Hair Pie and Human Gets Me – surely some of the most atonal, irregular and challenging rock music ever written, played with such fantastic spirit and energy.

    John French has evolved into an excellent front man in his own right; he is no longer merely emulating Don, and is putting his own stamp on the songs. All due respect to the late Mr. Vliet for dreaming this stuff up, but this music sounds even better when performed in terror-free conditions by a singer who doesn’t keep losing his place and forgetting the lyrics, and by a band who have a chance to stretch out and express themselves.

    Undeterred by a drizzly, cold Monday night, the audience (who spanned a wide age range) showed up in droves, gave the band a great welcome and loved every minute. Thanks to the guys for working so hard on keeping this music in the public domain, and in particular to John and Mark for their sterling efforts over the years. Absolutely brilliant!

    Dave Stewart

  10. I was at Scala and Dublin shows (well, I was due to be at ATP that weekend, so I thought I’d take myself to Ireland for the first time seeing as I was unexpectedly free). Both shows great. If I’m honest, I think at the Scala the first twenty minutes or so sounded like a band who’ve not been on stage together for two years, but after ‘When It Blows It’s Stacks’ it was astonishing from there on in.

    Dublin had none of these early jitters.

    Enjoying the fact Drumbo steps aside to let the other four crack through ‘Suction Prints’, and the instrumental section is a real treat.

    Have emailed some pictures to the site if they would be of interest.

  11. Thank you to Ian Archer for the setlist photo, however bootlegs now appearing (yet to be heard)suggest that the Scala show may have been the very same as the one that I caught at Liverpool where they actually finished up with ‘Beans’ (with Orange Claw Hammer as the encore).
    I agree with Anonymous, I’ve seen these guys half a dozen times, in various configurations, but they seem to have upped the sharpness and vitality if that’s actually possible.John French sang for so long at the top of the set that it actually crossed my mind he might avoid the drums all night.He’s a far different singer/frontman from the one we saw five years ago, much more confident. Mark appears to have lost a little weight has short hair and look all the better for it. Yes it’s good that Drumbo goes off during ‘Suction Prints’ but I could also have done without him fannying around the Wicked Whispers drum kit while Rockette, wearing Popeye style hat, was ripping it up big time on his bass solo.
    And finally, Mrs Petitwazoo was amazed at how many cool youngsters (or should that be young coolsters?)were present in The Kazimier, every one word perfect, too!
    Roll on the Magic Band’s return, to the land that currently has more Pandas than Tory MPs!

  12. The live recordings from two of the shows that are now floating around are quite good sound quality, and the performances themselves are excellent! For anyone who wanted to go, they are a nice consolation prize.

  13. I traveled up to London from Brighton, and it was absolutely fantastic! There was someone near me constantly calling for Dr. Dark to be played; despite it being a little annoying I’d have loved to have heard them play it. I regret hugely having to leave early in order to catch a train back.

  14. Saw the band play at the Scala and the Thekla and was completely blown away, especially at the Thekla – hats off to the sound engineer. A joyful experience and a celebration of some of the greatest music ever written played with awesome precision, passion, and devotion by some of the nicest people you’re ever likely to meet. Hope you’ll be able to fit in another gig in Bristol next March. Thank you for keeping the music alive for all of us long-time fans, and also for introducing it to a new audience (the two ladies with us were absolutely knocked out by the whole experience!)

  15. Magic Band – Dublin – Dec 2nd –
    Having crazily missed Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band at the Venue in London in November 1980, i finally caught that desert wind in Dublin in December 2011!
    It was as if time had stood still. What a show!. Stunning from start to finish with excellent sound mix. The 3 veterans and 2 younger members became one entity and proceeded to weave this magic once again. The audience covered all ages and became one in our appreciation. We danced our tribal dance’s to the Psychedelic desert music throughout and entered the awesome dreamtime. All credit to Drumbo for taking the reigns again and embodying the vocal spirit so wholeheartidly. I’m sure the Captain would be smiling that his legacy is being honoured like this and reaching and enthralling a new generation all these years down that road. Credit to the whole band for revisiting the discipline required to do this justice. I agree with Drumbo’s assessment that the set should be viewed “as a play that should be rolled out from time to time”. A pyschedelic Shakespearean experience?! The true destiny of these songs? It makes sense. The highlights were the whole ‘play’. We entered the spirit and it made our day. We do hope you make it back to Dublin in 2012. We need that air again. It was the best batch yet. Thank you again.
    Atmahead, on behalf of the Cactus people

  16. The Leeds show was stunning.

    The Magic Band truly are still magic. They all seemed so relaxed and enjoying themselves. The newbies Eric and Craig acquitted themselves well and are worthy members of the band.

    Great to see some young people there … and quite a few women too. Especial mention for Amanda who was dancing next to me at the front of the stage … she’s now the proud owner of one of Denny’s plectrums presented to her by the man himself.

  17. Saw them at the Scala and (as a little X-mas pressie to myself) again in Leeds Last night. London was great but Leeds was exceptional as they were warmed up and firing on all cylinders – all wrinkles ironed out and Drumbo roaming the stage like a man possessed! If I die now, everything will be fine. Let’s get them back again soon!

  18. I was at the Nottingham show and it was simply fantastic… Such an energetic performance. The thing that struck me was how the Captain’s music is always viewed as esoteric and weird by people. None of that at the gig. People were bobbing their heads and making jokes – I think someone called out ‘I run on laser beans’ at the start of the set.. It was a great thing to be a part of and I hope there are more.

  19. The Liverpool Kazimier gig was excellent. The only downside,no bat chain puller in the set. =(

    Got to have a chat with all of them afterwards and sounds like they’ll be back next spring. Great night.

  20. We tried doing Bat Chain Puller, but it just doesn’t come off without a synth bass — the same as “Ode To Alex.” Also, I didn’t realize that I was distracting from Mark’s solo in Liverpool when I went up to see if the other drum kit could be used. Sorry about that. As far as the hand-written set lists. they all were stolen at every show, so I started taking mine out when I left stage. Craig had printed them out, so, I just typed up one and had fifty copies made. Things like that are a lot of trouble when you don’t have an office, but the staff at our hotel in Liverpool was very accommodating. J French

  21. Would love to see the set list for Dublin but thus far it ain’t appeared. The one in my head is good enough but just to confirm would be nice!

  22. Now that I can see Mr French reads these comments – can I just add another thankyou – I came to four of the shows on the tour and loved the experience of doing that. Every night had a different highlight, but the combination of ‘My Human…’ followed by ‘Suction Prints’ got my feet moving every night!

    This is not to say I only enjoy the instrumental segments – far from it – as the set builds up beautifully for the Electricity/Vermont/Beans finish which would not work at all without a strong voice to really sell them.

    On the point of those tunes, I did like the pulsing elongation of ‘Electricity’ particularly.

    So, yeah, thanks again – looking forward to the ATP show in March too!

  23. I was walking towards the Scala when a voice said: “Nice hat!”
    When I turned to say thanks, I realised it was none other than Drumbo himself.
    I should have told him I loved City of Refuge and the book but instead wittered on aimlessly, as you do.
    The show was mesmerising, despite a few first night glitches.
    Truly, how many bands can bring a lump to your throat and a tear to the eye?
    Having seen the Captain twice in 1980 I feel able to say that this incarnation is fantastic and is true to the spirit of the original compositions.
    This stuff shouldn’t be allowed to gather dust. Thank you and haste ye back, gents.

  24. Am I the only person who is a little upset that both Gary & Rob were not brought over for subsequent Tours..
    Obviously the nucleus of John, Mark & Denny have become integral to the spirit of The Magic Band but having spoke with a few ex-Band Members there does seem to be a little sadness that these Gigs should be more about the spirit of the people who played a large part in The Magic Band(s)over the years..
    I know these New Members are no make-weights but if there are ex-Members who would like to be invited or involved, surely that is the direction it should be going..

  25. Would have been nice to see the other original members but in my opinion, its a ‘here and now’ experience and as long as the players play it as intended in the right spirit, i aint got a problem with new members playing it. I’m grateful its out there in the first place. In theatre you only get an original cast in the first few seasons and then its passed on. The desert wind keeps blowing

  26. Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth on 7th March and The Duchess (York) on 14th alsoconfirmed on venue websites.

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