Qango, 2-6 February 2000
UK tour overview

By Doug Anderson


What follows is a tour overview of the first UK-tour of Qango (John Wetton, Carl Palmer, David Kilminster and John Young). For full reviews of all these shows, plus photos, take a look at Doug Anderson's website.

QANGO - a tour overview

2 February 2000 - Whitley Bay, The Dome
3 February 2000 - The Robin R'n'B Club 1, Brierley Hill
4 February 2000 - London Astoria 2
5 February 2000 - Southampton, The Brook
6 February 2000 - Milton Keynes, The Stables, Wavendon

QANGO's compact, inaugural, UK tour began at the seaside, chilly Whitley Bay style. The venue is set inside the Dome, making for some echoey acoustics, the local monitor mixer not helping maters. Despite these aural problems, and the fact that last minute replacement for Keiran Twist, John Young, had only seven days to learn the set, the crowd enjoyed the show. Musically the set was picked from the cream of material recorded by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Asia and John Wetton (as solo artist), also featuring two new numbers and one cover.

John Young opened proceedings with a brief Fanfare (a complete version came later) which launched directly into the first of many early Asia tracks, Time Again, which ran swiftly into Sole Survivor. Dave Kilminster (guitar) raced straight into top gear almost as soon as the first verse of Time Again had finished - maintaining it for all but the acoustic tracks. The third track changed tempo as we were introduced to the first of a trilogy (fitting !) of ELP tracks, Bitches Crystal. John Young coped well with the tinkling Barrelhouse type shakedown introduction - his worries about the piece falling by the wayside afterwards. Interestingly, this is the only ELP tune played which has. Not necessarily anything strange in this - unless John Wetton was worried about remembering lyrics to songs hed not written.

Introductions were shared between the two 'names' in the band, John Wetton (bass and vocals) and Carl Palmer (percussion). Dave Kilminster's classically inspired acoustic solo was introduced by Palmer, Dave starting a brief Promenade from ELP's Pictures at an Exhibition, to appreciative cheers at most venues. As the solo drew at a close John Wetton reappeared, armed with an acoustic guitar, for an unplugged duet of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. The power of Wetton's voice really showed through in this 'bare-bones' interpretation, powering over the acoustic backing. The next track also began in acoustic mode, the only true cover of the evening - All Along the Watch Tower, though Palmer and Young joined in part way through. Battlelines, the only Wetton solo career track, followed with a quiet introduction that soon erupted into an emotional mid and end section. Another Wetton track followed, this time a new one, Walking on Air, featuring a moody bass and drum intro which led into one hell of a good track - powerful and moving. John Young had his proper introduction to the crowd with the next track, his keyboard solo, Ode to Joy (or Paddydog as it's now officially known in homage to John's recently departed faithful hound, Paddy). Back to Asia material with Only Time Will, highlighting the bands close vocal harmony work during the choruses, before returning to ELP with an interesting version of Hoedown. Instead of the original Hammond work alternating lead guitar and keyboard breaks made for a rather different version of an old favourite - though I felt that the lack of that dirty Hammond sound let the track down a touch.
The next track, new to most of the audience, harks back to Asia's 1989 European tour. The audience were initially fooled into thinking that we were getting the title track of John Wetton's last solo album, Arkangel due to the long introduction. Not so, as became obvious when the lyrics began, as this was Last One Home, a track to be found on John Young's solo CD, Life Underground. It's an initially quiet, foreboding, track which eventually lifted into a rather Pink Floydian guitar crescendo care of Dave Kilminster.

The main set was brought full circle (at the initial two shows) with Fanfare for the Common Man, the full Monty this time. Again, this ELP track was split between Young and Kilminster, almost sparring with each other during the middle section with some wild playing from both combatants during the end solo sections - the lack of a Hammond proving no obstacle for this track - it never featured on the original anyway! Mid way through the other musicians took to the cover of backstage as Carl Palmer began his drum solo. Starting on drums he moved swiftly to tambourine, cymbals and hi-hats, taking time to vary the tempo and volume of the workout. Large cheers erupted as he extracted himself from his top before pounding back into the drums with an amazing amount of skill and ferocity building to a crescendo before the other three returned for a brief reprise of Fanfare for the Common Man before departing the stage again.

After a few minutes rest (for the band, the audience, of course were cheering and whistling for more throughout) the guys returned for a spirited rendition of Heat of the Moment, Kilminster taking full advantage by giving us an exceptional guitar solo before joining the end harmonies. Another large cheer went up as the guys took their bows and left the stage as Carl thanked us "very much". The ecstatic crowd wanted more though, eventually the band returned with Don't Cry, fitting as it was their highest charting single way back in late summer of 1983 - and a great way to finish a set.

Despite a few first night nerves, causing the odd musical fluff, the show went smoothly, leaving the audience happy in the knowledge that they had witnessed the birth of what could become another hit making band.

For the second night of the tour both sound and performance had improved - just as well because tonight was being recorded for a live CD. This was a brave thing to do considering this was only the second show - and after only a weeks rehearsal. Fortunately the band firing on all six cylinders, and out to show us they meant business. This sold out hall was loud and appreciative throughout - especially for the Emerson, Lake and Palmer tunes. So popular was the show that many punters were left in the bar, unable to get tickets on the night.

John Wetton's vocals were low in the mix for much of the set as were Young' keyboards, though the bass was loud. During The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Wetton's guitar strap worked loose, causing him a little trouble, though a smiling Dave Kilminster quickly fixed it, Wetton hardly missing a note.
Despite a few technical problems the band seemed relaxed and enjoyed themselves much more than the previous evening, smiling and joking with the audience.

90 minutes of pure entertainment. If you missed it, make sure you buy the live CD when it arrives in the stores - you won't be disappointed.

The London Astoria 2 marked the first support band of the tour - Melbourne. John Young was keen to see part of their set as he was interested in their keyboard set-up - perhaps with a view to purchasing the same sort of keyboards that they used. This comment would become all the more pertinent later on in the evening.

The comedy highlight of the evening had to be an audience member shouting to Young, "Get your hair cut" Carl agreeing, "Yes, get your hair cut, let us see your face. Have one of these haircuts", pointing to his short barnet. "Ill do it for you tonight, come round my house". The classic quote of the evening has to be his next comment however, "No rugs and no plugs in this band". After the hilarity Carl was a bit confused by Only Time Will Tell, its not what he was expecting - hes looking a track ahead on the setlist!
When the band returned for the reprise of Fanfare for the Common Man a short-haired bloke in a black T-shirt walked across the stage toward the keyboards - Keith Emerson! He performed a keyboard duet with John Young, where they alternated keyboard runs. As John tried to keep to the tune, Emerson stood behind him playing some rather discordant notes around Young's body. The excellent performance and, especially the guest appearance of Keith Emerson, has to make this show the highlight of the tour. I'm sure that John Young would agree, even if Keith did break 3 of the keys!

With the cheer Emerson received when walking on stage I wondered what would happen if he was asked to join the band. Would they keep the QANGO moniker - or would they revert to an ELP -style name - PEWK!

Southampton, The Brook

Emerson's attacking playing the previous evening necessitated Martin Orford loaning John Young a keyboard for this sell out show. The venue was much fuller than for the Wetton show here last April, the audience being more appreciative (and noisy) too. Unfortunately, Wetton's vocals were a bit distorted the during the louder vocal sections even after moving towards the rear of the hall. Dave Kilminster got a big cheer from the audience before he'd even played a note of the solo, people here having seen him before with Wetton's solo band. The crowd loved the band, chorusing "QANGO, QANGO" several times during the evening.

Milton Keynes, The Stables, Wavendon

Second (and final) support act of the tour tonight and another sold out show. The set was played in a slightly different order this evening - John Young playing his solo one track earlier than normal due to a bass amp problem before a short break. Apart from that it was business as usual - a pretty excellent show and a nice, intimate way to end the short tour. The second set began with the track which would normally have proceeded John's keyboard solo, Walking on Air. It is one heavy track and there was no way they could have done it justice without the bass amp - now the audience could feel the reason for the short break. An excellent show - despite the obvious problems - and a great, intimate, end to the brief UK tour.
If the guy's can't get something concrete off the ground after these five dates then there is no hope for the music industry. The shows had everything, showmanship, great music, excellent performers, something old as well as some (relatively) new material and most of all, a sense of a band enjoying themselves. Roll on the live album and the supporting tour!

Setlist for the tour:
(note that after the first two shows, Heat became the last number of the main set, Don't Cry being the only encore)

Introductory Fanfare
Time Again
Sole Survivor
Bitches Crystal
Dave Kilminster's Guitar solo
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
All Along the Watchtower
Battlelines
Walking On Air
Paddydog (John Young Keyboard Solo)
Only Time Will Tell
Hoedown
Last One Home
Fanfare For The Common Man
-Carl Palmer Drum Solo-
Fanfare ... Reprise

Heat of the Moment

Don't Cry

 

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