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Culture Reviews
Barry Adamson
By Erik Jansma
Barry Adamson’s concert was widely advertised in both expat and local press. And all the announcements were more or less the same, coughing up Adamson’s impressive CV but not telling you why you should go and see the man and his band. Fans don’t need a motivation, of course, and neither does the press. But if you want to pack in a full house, just mentioning Magazine, Visage, The Bad Seeds and the soundtrack of “The Lost Highway” is not going to do the trick.

This probably explains why Apelsin may look just one size too big for Barry Adamson and his band on the evening of April 9th. But the loose fit gives room to commute between the front of the stage and the several bars, have a walk around and experience the concert from different angles. Moreover, most people seem to know whom they came to see and this leads to a collective enthusiasm. Nice.

It’s all so cosy that you would almost forget that dark thoughts from what can only be a tormented soul are poured onto you. Central themes include paranoia, the devil, secret agents, tall and unachievable babes, and alienation and crave for attention, just to name a jolly few. Think of any Film Noir for a taste. Dreams and nightmares are lived out on stage and Adamson indulges in it, his expression ranging from conspiratorial to desperate to sad, phlegmatic, happy and downright evil. Constant factors are a raised eyebrow and stinging gaze. Adamson’s lyrics are often narrative and when doing his filmic songs, his performance resembles that of a poet rather than a singer. Now, don’t think it is all navel staring and gloominess. All songs are abundantly supplied with movie tag lines and clich?s, and Adamson’s shrugs reveal that he chuckles at his own thoughts. It’s all tongue-in-cheek and nicely over-the-top!

Even better is the music itself. Evidently, Barry Adamson is picky about his supporting band and he has surrounded himself with some very good musicians. The sound set-up at Apelsin deserves two thumbs up as it accommodates for all extremes that one can find in a Barry Adamson gig, which is a lot. Trip-hop, Drum ‘n’ Bass, Rock, Funk, Jazz and Blues are the main ingredients that are mixed into long-drawn-out film scores accompanying Adamson’s filmic fantasies. You can notice dashes of Miles Davis, Isaac Hayes, Leonard Cohen, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Louis Armstrong. These styles are –except for a few quiet moments- clung to Big Drums, Fat Bass Lines, Funky Riffs, Crazy Pianos, Squeaking Trumpets and Distorted Guitar Solos that make your eardrums panic in delight. It’s just so wicked!

And like with all vices, it is difficult to get enough. So, after the first encore, the crowd demands more. “We actually ran out of songs”, is Barry Adamson’s dry comment when returns on stage after five minutes, “…but we just found another one”. When the final applause sets in, Adamson carries this first and last big smile we see of him. At least until his next gig here.

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