I started to fully appreciate Adrian Belew when I got into King Crimson a couple of years ago. Craig had seen him live as David Bowie's guitarist, and also didn't fully realize just how extensive his catalog is. In addition to his Crimson repertoire, we have recently been digging into solo material, material with The Bears, and the Andrian Belew Power Trio.
The Power Trio recently morphed into the Adrian Belew Quartet, as he tours for his new album Pop-Sided. Currently, the album is only available for purchase at the shows.
We saw an advertisement that the quartet would be playing at The Center for Arts Natick (TCAN). This was not a venue that was on our radar at all, despite it being within an hour's drive from our house. We bought tickets in January and eagerly awaited the show.
The venue is actually Natick's Central Fire Station which was built in 1875. We had allowed ourselves plenty of time as we didn't know what traffic would be like. It ended up taking about an hour, and we arrived shortly before 7 p.m. They opened the outer doors at 7, and we waited in the lobby (where they sell snacks) until they opened the theater doors. The space is quite intimate, seating only 270. TCAN is run by volunteers, and they were quite friendly.
Adrian's wife Martha was selling merchandise at the back of the theater. I bought the new album (Pop-Sided) as well as a tour T-shirt.
We were seated in the third row. Saul Zonana (keyboardist in the quartet) opened the show, playing original songs on guitar and keys. We enjoyed his set and he was good-natured and funny when dealing with sound problems.
There was a brief intermission before the Adrian Belew Quartet took the stage. They started with "Matte Kudasai", which has amazing slide guitar work to evoke the sound of seagulls. What a hauntingly beautiful song!
The quartet was very tight and had such great energy. It was fun to watch their facial expressions as they interplayed with one another; they were obviously having a lot of fun.
Being able to witness Adrian Belew's guitar virtuosity in such an intimate venue was a great experience. He uses a single guitar to produce all of the various sounds, and he lays down and plays back various loops...it certainly doesn't ever sound like a single guitarist at work!
At one point, he addressed the audience as "Massachusians" and then followed it up with "That's not right. What do you call yourselves?" Literally about half the audience shouted out in unison "Massholes!" He couldn't figure out what they were saying until bassist Julie Slick repeated it for him. "Massholes?! " he said incredulously and started to laugh. "You're kidding me. Seriously? I like a bit of self-deprecation. I practice that myself!"
The band took a short break and then came back for a second set. The set list contained songs from the new album, songs from King Crimson, solo songs, Power Trio songs, Bears songs, a Zappa song...I always enjoy his witty lyrics, and the instrumentals (which don't always grab me as much on recordings) were mesmerizing as we could watch it all unfold in such close proximity.
Julie Slick, who wound up being right in front of us, was a powerhouse on the bass. She was really fun to watch.
After the show, we stood in line at the merch table. By the time Adrian arrived, it was getting late, so Martha said that unfortunately there wasn't time for people get photos with him. But he would be happy to sign merchandise if you had purchased at least 2 items. He signed our copy of the CD and shook our hands and thanked us for coming. We appreciate the fact that he took the time to meet fans after what must surely be an exhausting show.
Guitar/Lead Vocals: Adrian Belew
Bass: Julie Slick
Drums: Jordan Perlson
Keys/Guitar/Vocals: Saul Zonana
- Matte Kudasai
- Big Blue Sun
- Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With
- Young Lions
- Beat Box Guitar
- Everybody's Sitting
- Incompetence Indifference
- Back in the Day
- Fish Head
- What Do You Know (Part 1)
- Of Bow & Drum
- Big Electric Cat
- Men in Helicopters
- What Do You Know (Part 2)
- Wait to Worry
- You Never Know
- City of Tiny Lites
- Three of a Perfect Pair
- Frame By Frame
- Neal and Jack and Me
- Thela Hun Ginjeet