I’m something of an awkward bugger when it comes to concerts. Having worked in a venue (Wolverhampton Civic Hall) and also being a person who likes to hear the vocal at a concert, rather than getting caught up with the whole “I don’t care what it sounds like I’m just happy to be here” piffle that seems to be acceptable behaviour these days, I always arrive at venues sceptical as to what it is which I will encounter. Last night was no exception.
Needing to take a boat for a 2 minute trip across some water to get to the Tolhuistuin version of Paradiso was a new experience, but it was fun, if a touch cold. The venue itself was pretty much the perfect size for the band. So what of said band. In truth, I think a lot of us were there for the giggle factor of seeing Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played on a banjo / ukulele. We were not disappointed.
Watching how these guys play their instruments really is something of a joy to behold, and their coordination befits the quality of the original songs chosen by the band. Offered up for our enjoyment were Hells Bells, War Pigs, Paranoid, You Shook me all Night Long for starters, played with vim and vigour, style and substance, and an entertaining amount of banter, some in German, most in English and all with a sense of humour that showed they knew exactly how to play to the audience.
They even managed to slip in some science to the set, and I don’t just mean they demonstrated chemistry! Mention of Godel Escher Bach (a book I actually own by Douglas Hofstadter) gave me, if no-one else, a good chuckle in reference to how styles and songs can be linked intrinsically, inevitably, to evolve from X to Y, and I suppose the irony wasn’t lost that what they as a band are doing is transposing literally the music, into a different key, to suit its new genre. The concept made me smile and the fact that they said “We mention this in case there is anyone out there who will be writing a review…”, made me think of self referential sentences from Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas.
So, in short, the music was good and the music was loud. And the singer turned and he said to the crowd : Let there be rock…. and there was, albeit a slightly bastardised type of rock, something less edgy and perhaps slightly more stringy, but yet still with the content to make you come away feeling energised, invigorated, and with a big daft grin on your face.
I’ve been to a lot of concerts, ranging from Saxon, Iron Maiden, Therapy?, Radiohead, Meat Loaf, Metallica, Megadeth, Disturbed, Deep Purple, Steel Panther etc to Ani Difranco, Hazel O’Conner and Blackmore’s Night. I think only way back in 2005ish after Papa Roach have I come away feeling better about what I’d seen. The quirkiness and enthusiasm matched with the set containing Comfortably Numb, Eye of the Tiger and the anthemic We’re not Gonna Take It just made for a brilliant evening.
If you get the chance to see Hayseed Dixie, I can only say this. Do it! I was worried the giggle factor would wear off after the first few songs. It didn’t.