|A reminder about the
power of the live performance:
Timeless: Concerts And Live Performances
-- an appreciation by Reed of Reeds Tickets
Corporation is distinguished among lovers of downtempo as one of the
defining groups of the genre, right up there with Tosca. That being
the case, when you think Thievery, you also think a certain amount of
electronic instrumentation, sampling, etc. However, for their live
performance, 90% of the sound was organically generated, or so it seemed
to me: the line-up encompassed dual percussionists (Frank Orrall was
exceptional); a three-man horn section; three female vocalists reprising
the tracks that they made famous: Emiliana breaking the ice with Heaven’s
Gonna Burn Your Eyes, Pam Bricker carrying the aaahhhhs of Illumination
and Lou Lou turning on Le Monde, among others. The sitar
player (Rob Myers?) brightened up an already-blazing stage, emitting the
most impressively good vibe I can think of having seen in recent times.
The same might be said for the bass player, who served forth a truly
vibrational, deeply dubby bottom end. Add two MCs of different musical
styles, and top the whole thing off with Rob Garza and Eric Hilton at
their mixers … well, it takes a village. But what struck me most was
that the mainstay of electronica of the sort TC are associated with –
that is, the drum machines and bass loops – have been rendered
organically in live performance, gaining in warmth and persuasiveness if
The horn section left nothing to complain about, but in the gaps between delivering the signature bits that had crowd recognition value (at one point including a riff I swear is the hook on Les Stances a Sophie by Art Ensemble of Chicago) they were distinctly motionless on stage … none of the stepping or other moves that the rest of the performers on stage were feeling … as it was, they seemed caught in a glass capsule, perhaps unable to hear the music which, if the had, they surely would have been dancing to it….
I guess the stand-out track for me was Illumination which I find one of the three or four iconic Thievery joints (they HAVE done more than a couple of things really well…)
There was also a spirited rendition of Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up and call me crazy, but I think people need to hear that lyrical sentiment at this particular juncture of history. Certainly, the crowd responded, but hey, it was a happy crowd, well disposed to responding to everything positively. It was a Thievery love-in.
The DJ mixing from 9 to 11pm when the show started had its fine moments, times when I would have loved to find out the name of the track, but closer to show time, I found it mostly discordant and inadequately beats oriented … just wasn’t consistently mood enhancing.
A word about the projected images visible on a couple of large screens. Such images are an accepted way to enhance shows, but I quickly came to feel they were distractions from this already captivating performance, especially the lengthy movie clips. Images, not story lines, would be a good compliment to TC -- even simple textile and carpet patterns would serve the vibe as well or better, and let you concentrate on the music. The image generation software used at the Danny Tenaglia show a couple of years ago is an excellent case in point ... swirling abstract images that support rather an compete with the performance (and in Tenaglia’s case, there wasn’t even a stage show to compete with and it was STILL better.)
This was my first visit to the BillboardLive space – it was spacious and well laid-out, with friendly security and excellent sound (variable, naturally, depending on your location inside the venue.) The area in which the club is located is also pleasant and inviting, with a couple of restaurants drawing crowds until well after the show ended. Because it is surrounded by condos, this is exactly the sort of area that will suffer if the current move by the NIMBYs of South Beach to limit noise carries the day.
On the "Glad I Went?" scale, this one was most certainly a 10.