June 11th 2005
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK
Photos by Andy King
A somewhat different and low key start to this much-anticipated concert - Edgar Froese began the proceedings by coming to the front of the stage from behind a set of black drapes that covered the main stage, and taking a seat at a Yamaha baby grand piano to play the opening piano part of Ricochet. An unusual beginning perhaps, but it helped to heighten the anticipation factor. And the comical way in which Edgar tossed his towel into the crowd after wiping his brow was a nice touch, and an oddly intimate moment for a band not generally noted for their intimacy with the audience.
Once Edgar had finished his piece, it was time to reveal the main stage set - and boy was it worth waiting for. The first thing that caught your eye were the three large banks of modular patchboards behind each keyboard player, evoking wonderful memories of those early synth patchboards with wires everywhere that used to accompany the bands 70's stage shows (In fact, a closer look revealed
they were actually plasma screens displaying the information from the keyboard players' laptops, but it was still very impressive all the same). Above them were circular shapes and globes that evoked memories of the Logo's era stage design from the 70's - clearly a lot of effort and thought had gone into the stage design, with lots of little nods to the past.
Once Edgar was seated behind his control console alongside new keyboard player Thorsten Quaeschning and son Jerome, the show started proper with the familiar opening chords of Phaedra. There were whoops and cheers of delight from the audience. Another nostalgic touch was having all three band members with their backs to the audience for most of the first half of the show.
As with the previous UK concert two years ago, the music was played almost continuously, with occasional newer linking pieces of music between the more familiar tracks. The difference this time is that this was very much concentrating on old favourites. In this first half, the most recognisable pieces played were excerpts from Poland, Rubycon, Force Majeure, Tangram, Logo's, Underwater Sunlight, and I also recognised Choronzon, Silver Scale, Warsaw In The Sun and Desert Dream. For some of the numbers the band were joined on stage by the striking blonde percussionist Iris Camaa, prowling around on a raised stage behind the guys and seemingly hitting and shaking everything in sight.
It was great to hear those familiar sequencer runs and waves of synth washing over you (especially during Rubycon), and this was not simply a carbon copy of the album versions either. Though the tracks were familiar and sounded pretty much as you remember them, there were some embellishments and additions just to keep things interesting. Of course Edgar Froese has been remixing and re-recording older pieces for some time now so this should be nothing unusual for the fans - and it certainly sounded like everyone present tonight was well into it.
At the end of the first half, a change of pace as Thorsten came to the front of the stage to perform a beautiful solo piano piece, which was improvised around Song Of The Whale.
After this it was into what has come to be known as "The Melrose Years", incorporating a lot of the Dream Mixes material from recent years. Oriental Haze kicked off this part of the set, and a huge cheer went up as Linda Spa arrived on stage with her saxophone. This was the part of the set that got the audience moving their heads and tapping their feet (including some of the bar staff). Zlatko Perica was also on hand to provide some wonderful guitar, and even Jerome got a chance to show us his guitar skills on Backstreet Hero. They took us through a superb selection of tracks including Towards The Evening Star, Catwalk, Melrose, Lamb With Radar Eyes and Meta Morph Magic, with Thorsten joining Iris on percussion at one point.
I am a big fan of the Dream Mixes era particularly so this was anathema to me.
The reaction of the crowd was incredible, and there was no way they were going to get away without an encore or two. In fact we got three, one being an interesting new track (which I believe may be on Edgar's upcoming solo) album on which he was using an interesting vocal-style guitar effect. But the icing on the cake was where he got to cut loose on the final track Purple Haze.
Edgar commented from the stage at the end that even though they had played 3 hours of mostly older material, they had approx 250 hours of music to try and choose from. But I got the impression that the band have been talking and listening to the fans to find out what they wanted from a Tangerine Dream anniversary-style concert, and from the reaction tonight and also the comments on the bands website since it's clear that this was nothing short of a triumph. I personally loved it, it was like a musical journey that you just got swept up in and carried along with for the duration of the concert.
I was also mightily pleased to see that it was filmed, so here's looking forward to a live DVD at some point in the future.
I am not sure if the band are intending to take this show on the road to other countries, but if they do make sure you don't miss it.
Ricochet Part 2 improvisation
Mysterious Semblance At The Strand Of Nightmares
Rubycon Part 1
Warsaw In The Sun
Midnight In Tula
Thorsten piano solo, including Song Of The Whale
Part Two: To Dusk
Towards The Evening Star
Rising Haul In Silence
Lamb With Radar Eyes
Meta Morph Magic
The Greek Mirror