Tangerine Dream Newcastle City Hall 4th December 1974

Tangerine Dream Newcastle City Hall 4th December 1974
Or “Is This The End Of Rock As We Know It?” (Max Bell, NME, 1974)
tangerinedream74tixOr “Is This The End Of Rock As We Know It?” (Max Bell, NME, 1974)
Tangerine Dream were formed in Berlin in 1965 by Edgar Froese. Fascinated by technology, and influenced by rock, pop and classical music, he formed a psychedelia band which would prove to be hugely important in the development of Krautrock, electronica, and trance music. Tangerine Dream’s haunting and transcendental soundscapes paved the way for many other bands to follow. By 1974 Tangerine Dream consisted of Edgar Froese (keyboards, guitars), Christopher Franke (keyboards, drums) and Peter Baumann (keyboards). They had signed to the new Virgin label, and released the highly acclaimed album “Phaedra” which was “an amazing record, the most effective mating of the mellotron and synthesizer to date, and its lush employment of rich sonic textures makes it an immensely enjoyable experience.” (Gordon Fletcher, Rolling Stone).
Tangerine Dream set out on their first UK tour in autumn 1974. The 20 date tour started in London at the Rainbow Theatre on 26th October, and closed at Newcastle City Hall on 4th December. The music was visually supported by a “Video Synthesizer” which controlled the visuals in synch to the music, so that the sounds made by the band determined the images and patterns which were displayed on the screen at the back of the stage. tangerinedreamprog74The concerts were hailed unique and “fascinating experiences” (Melody Maker). Tangerine Dream gigs (were they “gigs”?) were unlike any other rock (and were they “rock”?) concerts I had seen, and consisted mainly of lengthy improvisations with zero interaction between the band and the audience. The band set themselves a challenge of never playing the same piece twice, and the concerts were often performed in complete darkness.
From the tour programme: “Tangerine Dream do not play conventional instruments. Their mass of synthesisers and electronic keyboards are probably the most sophisticated in the world…..their commitment to total improvisation moulds their concerts into an unusual form: at the beginning there has to be a period of attunement – musicians to each other, and then musicians to the audience. Finally the band tries to sensitize itself to the particular acoustics of the auditorium.” The tour also featured a quadrophonic sound system, all of which promised a very different and interesting experience.
voucher“Don’t categorise us. We’re influenced by everything; sound, pictures, a walk in the woods, looking at clouds from a plane even. Without Debussy, Presley, Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream would be impossible. Our music is the end result of these things in that we become a filter, our instruments, the keyboards, moogs and VCS3’s are just the ones with which we can best express our sensations” (Pete Baumann) “Because we never repeat a concert it’s hard to define whether we get excitement or satisfaction from it. After a good presentation, we may not do an encore – there’s nothing left to give.” (Edgar Froese).
I found the City Hall concert interesting, very different and, to be honest, simply strange. The stage was set with banks of synthesisers, and there was, as described in the programme, a period at the start of the evening where the three band members seemed to be setting up their instruments. I think the analogue equipment that they used at the time needed to warm up. Once the music got started it filled the City Hall with swirling rhythmic soundscapes, and the visuals, although quite basic compared to today’s effects, flashed and swirled in sequence with the music. I found the lack of audience interaction and the length of the pieces challenging, to say the least.
An experience like no other, at least until I saw them again, back at the City Hall four years later.
PS I found a voucher (above) which entitles me to 50p off the price of “Phaedra” at my local friendly Virgin store. Is it still valid ? 🙂

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