Lucinda Williams, Lambchop, Calexico: Drei gewinnt

Kein Vorprogramm auf der Zitadelle, keine Flop-Acts, nur Top-Acts, drei exzellente Bands: Lucinda Williams, Lambchop, Calexico. Alle spielen eine runde Stunde.
Von H.P. Daniels
Der Tagespiegel, 2009-07-09

Unsicherheiten nur beim unsteten Wetter. Dräuende Wolken. Und dann müssen Lucinda Williams und ihre Band Buick 6 in ein Meer von Schirmen blicken. Auf der Bühne sehen sie aus wie beim Soundcheck: salopp und ungeschminkt im harschen Tageslicht — Lucindas Haare weniger blond als sonst, schwarze Jacke mit eingestickter blumiger Friedensrune auf dem Rücken, Gibson-Akustikgitarre vorne. “Happy Woman Blues” singt sie zu federndem Rockabilly-Beat, den Titelsong vom zweiten Album aus dem Jahr 1980. Das ist lange her, doch seit einiger Zeit ist sie tatsächlich wieder “a happy woman” — neuer Lebensgefährte, alles gut. “Little Honey” heißt die jüngste Platte.

Daher auch weniger bittersüße Country-Musik jetzt, mehr lebensbejahender Rock ‘n’ Roll. Verstärkt wird die knalligere neue Spielart vom neuen Gitarristen Eric Schermerhorn, der einst Iggy Pop und David Bowie zur Seite stand. Heute — im wilden Wechselspiel mit Chet Lyster, mit aufeinanderprallenden, sowie hin- und herspringenden Riffs und Bottleneck-Slides — verpasst er dem Programm einen kräftigen Keith/Ronnie-Stein-Schlag.

Unfair gegen den Neuen wäre es, laut auszusprechen, dass man zwischendrin doch manchmal den jahrelangen Mitstreiter Doug Pettibone vermisst, vor allem seine Country-Einfärbungen mit der Pedal-Steel.
Die Band rockt, Lucinda wippt und lacht.

Nach fünf Songs sind sie richtig in ihrem Element. Eingespielt, voll drauf. “Tears Of Joy” sind die schiere Freude, und Lucindas Stimme knirscht schotterig schön. “Out Of Touch” rollt stampfend wie ein Schaufeldampfer auf dem Mississippi.

“What is this?” fragt die kleine, taffe Lady aus Louisiana vergnügt: jetzt, wo sie die elektrische Gitarre rausgeholt habe, kommt auch die Sonne raus, die Schirme wieder rein. Mattgoldene Sonne, silbrig glänzende James-Trussart-Steelcaster-Gitarre. Mit drei elektrischen Gitarren wird der Biss noch einen Zahn kräftiger, passend zum Song: “Real Live, Bleeding Fingers And Broken Guitar Strings”. Und um das gute Dutzend vollzumachen zum Schluss AC/DCs “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll”. Dort ist Lucinda Williams längst angekommen. Ganz oben.

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More clips from Munich on YouTube.

2009-07-02, Olympiastadion, München

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band live in Munich! A stadium show on a hot summer night; though I was sceptical, Olympiastadium is very nice — and even nicer from the pit in front of the stage.

And what a night: My eight show was one of the best with the E Street Band! This ‘wow, awesome’ feeling was there immediately, I was crying already at the third song, and singing all night long. The band was great: Max was here!, though Clarence could hardly move, he got his (few) solos right, and Nils is awesome but underemployed.

The difference to the last tour was a very loose Bruce, having fun and celebrating a big party (not only Roy’s birthday). Inflatable cake , paper plane, and squeaking toy dragon included. Plus, the neck breaking speed of the Magic Tour was gone, with a great setlist (though, next night’s Frankfurt set was stellar).

Highlights were a fun Spirit in the Night, Seeds (great guitar) and Atlantic City, Seven Night To Rock, and a beautiful The River (steaming hot in Glastonbury). After a sign request brought an impromtu This Hard Land (pulled from a numbered envelope), the most memorable moment was the request for Orbison’s Pretty Woman for Roy’s birthday. That sign just had to get his attention! Big thanks to the two Belgian guys for that work.

Hard Times was a final highlight (and Cindy very hot), but still not the end of a 2:50 hrs show…


Muss I denn zum Städtele hinaus aka Wooden Heart [Nils solo]
My Lucky Day
No Surrender
Outlaw Pete
Spirit in the Night
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
Atlantic City
Seven Nights to Rock
This Hard Land
Pretty Woman
Because the Night
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The River
Kingdom of Days
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
* * *
Hard Times
Bobby Jean
American Land
Detroit Medley
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark

Lyle LovettSchreibfaul, aber der Konzert-Kritik von Peter E. Müller aus der Morgenpost ist auch nichts hinzuzufügen.

Maybe a word in English: Charisma! That’s what makes the difference… A southern gentleman like Lyle Lovett has got a lot of that. Dark suit and tie (as the whole band), still plenty of hair, and a voice like his face: sharp as a knife. Great concert: lots of talking, jokes, and the unique effect of playing in a church — every artists seems to be disturbed and inspired when playing here.

Lyle Lovett lässt die Passionskirche swingen

Lyle Lovett ist eine der schillerndsten Figuren der amerikanischen Countryszene. Am Abend spielte und sang er in der ausverkauften Kreuzberger Passionskirche. Doch dabei ging es nicht nur um Musik, sondern auch um das Tempo auf deutschen Autobahnen und die Einzigartigkeit deutscher Brötchen.

Es mag etwas verwegen klingen, bei einem Gotteshaus von ausverkauft zu reden. Die Passionskirche am Marheinekeplatz in Kreuzberg jedenfalls ist bis auf den letzten Stehplatz gefüllt, als der texanische Sänger, Songschreiber und Geschichtenerzähler Lyle Lovett am Mittwochabend zum intimen Konzert in den romanischen Backsteinbau geladen hat. Der 51-jährige Musiker mit den kantigen Gesichtszügen und der noch kantigeren Frisur ist eine der schillerndsten Figuren der amerikanischen Countryszene, freilich geht seine Musik weit über das traditionell abgesteckte Terrain hinaus. Nein, keine Jeans, kein Stetson. Lovett und seine vier Musiker erscheinen akkurat in schicken schwarzen Anzügen mit weißem Hemd und Krawatte auf der Bühne. Und bis zum Ende nach mehr als zwei Stunden kommt auch nicht einer auf die Idee, das Jackett auszuziehen.

Das Ganze hat etwas feierliches, ja andächtiges, einem Konzert in einer Kirche durchaus angemessen. Lovett bekundet mehrfach, wie wohl er sich in dieser ungewohnten Umgebung fühlt, wie geehrt er sei, in dieser „beautiful, beautiful church“ spielen zu dürfen. Und er laviert sich mit seiner Band elegant und edel durch ein breites Repertoire aus beseelten Balladen, swingenden Countrysongs, perlendem Bluegrass, Jazz, Blues und Gospel.

Neil Young & His Electric Band
August 19, 2008
Zitadelle Spandau – Berlin, Germany

Two Berlin shows in one year! Thanks Neil, I missed the first in February… Zitadelle Spandau is a fine place as well; an open air venue of about 6000 is just the right size. Weather warm and almost dry, airplanes in a red sunset sky… Mother Nature’s video show!

This was not a ‘Living with War’ concert, nor a ‘Chrome Dreams II’ show, simply a fun show (Neil in good mood as well) with old favorites. Some of them very old…

Though not as impressive as with Crazy Horse (God, was that already seven years ago?), the old man still rocks! My personal hightlight: a 13 minutes version of “Cowgirl in the Sand” with great inspired guitar solos by Neil.

Unexpexted for me, but impressive, the show’s closer: The Beatles’ “A Day in Life” in true Neil Young fashion:

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(more videos on youtube)


July 12, 2008 — Berlin, Zitadelle Spandau

Kris Kristofferson \Last night, the ‘other’ man in black came to town: Kris Kristofferson in Berlin, one of the last great singers/songwriters — of the kind they don’t make anymore — performed some of the best songs ever written.

Just the man and his guitar, dressed in black on an empty stage, stripped his songs of the sometimes overdone ’70s Nashville arrangements, and reduced them to their eternal core: poetry and stories of unbelievable beauty. While his guitar playing is never more than simple accompaniment, the warmth of this deep voice is as touching as ever.

Except for the high register, he shows no sign of age at all (except for wisdom, maybe). At now 72, he stands on stage for almost two hours, delivering song by song without a break. This man still doesn’t need a teleprompter, remembers the words of songs written 40 years ago (just once messing up a song, he remarks that these days he can’t remember what he had for breakfast: “Old age is not for sissies!”).

Kristofferson’s 2008 performance is a black and white movie in slow motion: there’s no country song, just plain poetry, with emphasis on every line, each word sinks deeply into your heart and mind. More than once I was about to cry, the beauty of his words and stories sometimes is nearly overwhelming. “Here Comes That Rainbow Again”, “Jody and the Kid”, or a final “For The Good Times” were especially moving. Looking at the setlist, one has to realize that this is not only a greatest hits show, but that Kristofferson has written some of the greatest songs ever.

The show was not only very emotional, but also very funny and communicative. Kris made personal remarks about his songs, as well as political statements (“Darby’s Castle” and “Nobody Wins” suddenly seemed to be about 911 and Iraq; a longer intro to “The Circle”). He was very interactive, paying attention to kids running around, playing on request (“Sky King”), and obviously enjoying himself. The audience was great as well (with people who were listening to the songs that he was playing), wouldn’t want to let him go even after more than 25 songs, applauding for another ten minutes when Kristofferson had left the stage with a final verse, shouted out loud: “Please don’t tell me how the story ends.”

(Here’s a recent video from Amsterdam.)

Setlist (not in order, incomplete?):

2008-02-08, Berlin, Columbia Club

Steve Earle and Allison Moorer back in Berlin! The beauty and the beast, sort of… but I’d rather go for the beast. Allison was fine, she really can sing — however, you have to like her kind of music. Dramatic country whining gets boring after two songs, her covers were better, but also too slick.

So, fast forward to Steve’s part: not very talkative at first, but in good mood and condition he fired his acoustic hits like a gun slinger. He’s got the power that a solo show needs to keep the attention up. And his more quiet songs remind you that he wrote some of the greatest ever: “Goodbye” (introduced as ‘same girl, different harmonica’) and the old “Billy Austin” were especially intense. This man knows how to sing with real feeling (and the greatest twang!).

But all that’s not new to the fans. The news came with part three of the show: though I was warned about ‘a loud DJ set’, it was still a surprising effect when Neil McDonald laid down his first beats. Very impressive! Truely ‘transcendental blues’ of the 21st century. Folk and blues songs turning into oriental mantras, urbanized bluegrass and country music. So, that’s the New York flavor added to Steve’s southern background! Hip hop beats and ethno elements very nicely capture the sound of this multi nation city and blend perfectly with Steve’s guitar and even banjo! Great music that you could almost dance to — this even might attract a younger audience that wouldn’t listen to old timey protest songs.

Allison also came back for a few duets and after two hours, Steve finally felt comfortable enough to talk a bit more during the encore. A very personal story about his sons, his dad, and fatherhood led into a final lullaby closing a great show.

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‘Santa’ Boss was coming to town…

After a 2 and 1/2 hour show and a long ride home, some rest, and my voice not as hoarse as yesterday, I’m still speechless and borrow a review from Backstreets (couldn’t agree more):

December 13 / Cologne, GER / Koln Arena

A smoking show, both literally and figuratively — the Koln Arena must be one of the last such venues where lighting up is still permitted, and when the lights came up they revealed quite a cloud overhead. A surprisingly simlar set to the previous night, considering it’s just a couple hours’ drive. But the enthisiastic Cologne crowd, on their feet all night, set this one apart — and who can complain about “Because the Night” two nights in a row? “The Promised Land” had that newly added “People Get Ready” gospel coda again, too. “Kitty’s Back” was absolutely smoking, particularly Roy’s solo — a killer, jazzy improvisation, which Bruce echoed as he followed it with an extended solo of his own.

The end of “American Land” brought a patented James Brown routine, as Bruce fell over backward, “exhausted,” still on the floor as the band went into a bonus “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” Nils and Steven helped him up to sing, and a special guest joined in, too. “Wolfgang, do you believe in Santa Claus?” Bruce cried to Wolfgang Niedecken — like Joe Grushecky in Pittsburgh, you can pretty much bank on Niedecken joining in when Bruce comes to Deutschland. The German rocker didn’t really seem to know the song, rarely stepping to the mic, but all eyes were on Bruce anyway, especially once he put that Santa hat on. How does he manage to make that thing look good? Tilting it at a rakish angle, twirling the pom-pom around like a helicopter… no one wears a Santa hat like Bruce. Hey, the guy’s a professional.

Radio Nowhere / The Ties That Bind / Lonesome Day / Gypsy Biker / Magic / Reason to Believe / Because the Night / She’s the One / Livin’ in the Future / The Promised Land / Waitin’ on a Sunny Day / The River / I’ll Work for Your Love / Devil’s Arcade / The Rising / Last to Die / Long Walk Home / Badlands
* * *
Girls in Their Summer Clothes / Kitty’s Back / Born to Run / Dancing in the Dark / American Land / Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town

Clips from Cologne 

PosterFatih Akin’s second ‘big’ movie after “Head-On” (Gegen die Wand) is definitely one of the best this year. Not as outstanding as the first (of a supposed trilogy), but more subtle, pensive. And once again, Akin proves his talent for casting fresh, but great actors!

At first view, he’s using known elements: Altman’s short-cut episode style, the German-Turkish theme, a love story… But then, one realizes it’s not really about Turkish immigrants, not really about Turkish politics (though it still is also about these things) — in the end there’s just a great movie about a universal generation conflict, love and forgiveness between kids and their parents. It’s the same story, from ancient times (Ibrahim/Abraham and Ishmael/Isaac to the 21st century, in Turkey and Germany — the same inner conflict, regardless of age or gender.

November 7, 2007 — Berlin, Germany, Schiller Theater

WestThe greatest female singer/songwriter in country-blues-rock in a theater? A concert in chairs? I was very sceptic…But then, I had 4th row tickets, expected a more quiet show with a focus on that great voice, and was going to see her live again!

So, how was the show? Simply amazing! With the first slow songs of her new album, you understood the intention of playing here: a very attentive audience, no yelling, shuffling around, no beer or bathroom breaks — just her voice filling the room.

And how could one describe that voice? Well, she did rightaway when interrupting her first song to start again: “There are good cracks and bad cracks in my voice, that was a bad one!” But from there on she unveiled more and more of the ‘good cracks’. A goose bumps voice, rough and soft, broken and clear, and so powerful!

It’s funny, you listen to the saddest songs ever (“You want dark, I give you dark!”) — with a big grin on your face, ’cause it’s so beatiful!

As she was getting more and more into the show, Lucinda loosened up and enjoyed herself (she seemed not to in Hamburg before), talked about her songs and experiences. The band was amazing too: great guitars (Doug Pettibone shouldn’t sing, though), groovy bass and wondeful percussion and drums. Towards the end they really made some joyful noise!

Two hours — yes a long show — happy faces all around, on stage and in front of it!

[more reviews]

Dixie ChicksRecommended for everyone interested in American music, its business, and politics. This documentary is awesome!

The cameras captured the infamous Dixie Chicks event (“We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”) and its aftermath. The band suffered from radio boycott, personal insults and threats to their lives. Blind U.S. patriotism on the verge of the Iraq war in 2003 revealed how frail the right to freedom of speech is in America.

Besides, we get as close as one can get to the band on tour, in the studio, at home, and even in the labor room… Fascinating, funny, infuriating and emotional!

P.S. The Dixie Chicks defintely ARE the worst dressed girl group in the world! Whatever…

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