Archive for the ‘Tangerine Dream’ Category

Tangerine Dream Newcastle City Hall 23rd March 1978 and 2nd November 1980

Tangerine Dream Newcastle City Hall 23rd March 1978 and 2nd November 1980
TangDream.23.3I saw Tangerine Dream on two more occasions. It is difficult to describe the concerts, as each time the band performed it was so different. In 1978 the line-up was Edgar Froese (keyboards), Christopher Franke (keyboards), Steve Jolliffe (saxophone, flute) and Klaus Krüger (drums, percussion). By the time I saw them in 1980 the line-up had changed again and had reverted back to a three piece, keyboard based, ensemble featuring Froese, Franke and Johannes Schmoelling. Their concerts continued to feature unique improvised soundscapes, loud and swirling music; psychedelic, spacey, rhythmic, sometimes dark and moody. They sometimes performed in cathedrals, I can imagine that the space and surroundings fitted the music well. One of those performances was in York Minster; I recall considering going and didn’t, which I regret to this day; I would imagine that it will have been an unforgettable experience.
The 1978 tour featured the Laserium light show which were produced live by a “laserist”. The Laserium projector (from the tour programme) “uses a one-watt Krypton gas laser as its light source, and refracts the tiny beam into four primary colors which travel through a series of optics to emerge as laser snowflakes or cloud formations suspended in space. This Laserium projector was especially designed for Tangerine Dream, and the custom made rear projection screen enables the live laser images to appear three-dimensional.” I was, and remain, intrigued by the band. tangprprog78I found their concerts fascinating, challenging, interesting at times uplifting, and yet at other times tedious and tiring. Looking back they were, and remain, a unique and hugely important and influential band. Edgar Froese drew his influences from the Rolling Stones: ”The first time I heard The Rolling Stones was in the middle of a rehearsal with a rock ‘n’ roll group. I was first of all attracted by their looks. Their faces were absolutely damaged. They were the absolute opposite of The Beatles… ” and the surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who he met also played in his villa: ”This was the biggest change I ever had in music…..By seeing the way he was working, talking and thinking, I found that everything was possible. I thought that I would do the same as he did in painting in music.” He explained his approach to Paul Morley in the NME (1978): “We never do anything just for success….We could do all the Donna Summer things, and make a lot of money. But what do you do in the end? If you’re interested in being rich, the record industry is very much part of the world’s commercial activity, and it’s very easy to be successful by doing your own thing, without compromise.”
tangtixI remember for one of the performances I attended the band played the entire concert from behind a new curtain. There was never any set numbers, no “act”, no props other than the light shows. Everything was improvised directly on stage, in the moment. The performance was fed by the musicians, how they were feeling that day, but also by the venue, the acoustics, and the audience and their reaction. The musicians would walk on stage, tune, explore and calibrate their synths and then sit behind their futuristic consoles in the dark and create sounds and music. They would be no interaction with the audience. Each piece would last an hour or so, and a concert would feature a couple of such pieces, followed by, if it felt right to do so, an encore of 20 minutes or so. Then they would leave the astounded, bewildered, fascinated, perplexed audience until next time. Because of the uniqueness of the events many were bootlegged. I’ve just listened to a recording on YouTube which was made from a 1978 live show in Berlin. Fascinating stuff, and it reminded me of what the experience was like.  The music from that show includes some scary screaming vocals., which isn’t something I can remember from the gigs I attended. Tangerine Dream continue to perform to this day.
Thanks to Mitch for his picture of Edgar Froese taken at Newcastle City Hall on 23rd March 1978.

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 ? 🙂