Magic Moments:Pics.

With Captain Beefheart unravelled by reading "Mike Barnes - Beefheart Biography, " I  started acquiring the Beefheart canon and soon had all his studio albums. As a member of the ' Fireparty ' discussion group, I was kept updated on Beefheart news.

When I became aware that after an absence of twenty or more years, drummer John French was putting together a Magic Band, using ex-members to play the music of Captain Beefheart and playing   the first public gig at London's Shepherds Bush, I quickly bought a couple of tickets and went with daughter L. to the concert.

As a callow youth, I made a weekly habit of reading " Melody Maker, " a music paper cover to cover,
I always looked at the various London venues where artists were playing; The Round House, Shepherds Bush, Astoria and so on and in my mind conjured up images of such places. They all sounded exotic and daring and I have to say the reality of Shepherds Bush was very different .

 Inside was a small auditorium, with a stage and a drinks bar running down the left hand side.
Moreover, it was poorly lit and everybody was standing up facing the stage. So with the smell of stale beer and much of the audience freely smoking various substances, it was quite an initial cultural shock.
But the sense of anticipation was real enough. The mostly older male audience were in an excited state
When the band members appeared, the whoops of pure joy were wonderful to hear; nicknames ( Drumbo and Rockette Moron ) were shouted out as if they were long-lost cousins. The band were visibly overawed by the reception and when " Abba Zabba " started the party began.

Members- top left Mark Boston,( AKA Rockette Morton ) Bass; top right John French ( AKA Drumbo) Drummer and leader; bottom left - Gary Lucas ( AKA Mantis Lucas) guitar ;  bottom right - Denny Whalley (AKA Feelers Reebo ) Slide guitar.

Nicknames bestowed upon them by the Captain. The banter between the band and audience was exceptional. Bearing in mind that they were an American band and this was the first time for over two decades they had played the material live, the musical knowledge of the fans was amazing.

At one point during a lull between numbers, they called out to 'Rockette ' " what beans are you running on Rockette?" To which the bass guitarist replied " I'm running on laser beans." This strange interchange was a direct quote from 'Trout Mask Replica' and demonstrated how much of the Beefheart lore they knew.

Here is the set list:

  1. Abba Zabba
  2. My Human Gets Me Blues
  3. Steal Softly Thru Snow
  4. Gone Bops Over Kilimanjaro
  5. On Tomorrow
  6. Evening Bell
  7. Alice In Blunderland
  8. Big Toe
  9. Veterans Day Poppy
  10. Floppy Boot Stomp
  11. China Pig
  12. Dropout Boogie
  13. Nowadays A Woman’s Gotta Hit A Man
  14. When It Blows Its Stacks
  15. Circumstances
  16. I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby
  17. Click Clack
Gary Lucas recited a Beefheart poem and later played the very technical and difficult "Evening Bell."
For the first forty two minutes the band played as an instrumental unit. At that time Drumbo climbed down from the drum kit, introduced Robert Williams to take his place and then came to centre of stage with a mike and announced that he was about to sing.
He said how large the Captain's lungs were and how he (Drumbo) had had to go into the desert to work on his voice power. He was very respectful to Beefheart and hoped the audience would bear  with his vocal range.

He need not have worried for, from the first  notes of " Floppy Boot Stomp, " he commanded the stage and sang with gusto, warmly appreciated by everybody.

In all ways it was a triumphant concert and I felt privileged  to have attended.

The final encore,( which was to close all future shows,)  was " Big Eyed Beans From Venus ."
Here is a video taken at The Scala ( which I also attended at a later date)

Big-Eyed Beans.


Leaving you this week with two pictures of the Tewkesbury floods.
Stay warm and watch out for those flakes!


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