Concert Tips

Nick Mulvey, 1/4/2015, Paard van Troje, The Hague Sharon van Etten, 9/4/2015, Paradiso, Amsterdam Monomyth & Shaking Godpseed, 10/4/2015, Paard van Troje, The Hague Splendid, 11/4/2015, Paard van Troje, The Hague Paul Weller, 11/4/2015, Tivoli, Utrecht Paulusma, 17/4/2015, Theater de Veste, Delft AC/DC, 5/5/2015, Gelredome, Arnhem The Replacements, 30/5/2015, Paradiso, Amsterdam Fleetwood Mac, 31/5/2015, 1/6/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam Kiss, 18/6/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam The Who, 10/7/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam U2, 8/9/2015, 9/9/2015, 12/9/2015, 13/9/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam Roger Hodgson, 12/9/2015, Carré, Amsterdam Crosby, Stills & Nash, 24/9/2015, Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam Supertramp, 11/12/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam Golden Earring, 12/12/2015, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam

Live Reviews

Morrissey

, Tivoli, Utrecht 28/10/2015 Morrissey strips The anticipation for Morrissey's performance in Tivoli was high because it was four years ago since his last show in Holland. For me it was the first time I witnessed him perform. As well as the first time in the impressive, renovated big hall. The place was absolutely sold out and the atmosphere electric. Before the concert we could watch an enjoyable compilation of clips with some of Morrissey's favourite music (incl. Ramones, New York Dolls but also Chris Andrews). The band took the stage, wearing 'Fuck Harvest' shirts (a beef with the record company), with a ferocious version of The Queen Is Dead.

The band only slowed down after five songs with Certain People I Know before Morrissey finally spoke some words to the audience. Despite his recent health problems Morrissey appeared in great shape while his political/social comments were as sharp as ever. Besides Harvest, the Royal house and the pharmaceutical industry got a beating. During Meat Is Murder (one of three Smiths-songs played tonight) a movie with shocking images of animal abuse and slaughter was shown. Meanwhile Tivoli was summoned to arrange that it was meatfree all day.

The songs from the diverse new cd World Peace Is None of Your Business worked really well. Kiss Me A Lot and The Bullfighter Dies had more punch than on the cd while there was more room for the Spanish guitar (by Jesse Tobias) during Staircase at the University. Although the older Morrissey singles and Smith-songs are among the highlights as expected, Morrissey includes 9 songs from the new album and it sounds completely naturally. The man's got so many great tunes to choose from. The band's playing, led by the loyal Boz Boorer (joined in 1991), is solid and passionate. Overall a very convincing performance. Looking forward to his next visit.


Setlist: The Queen Is Dead / Suedehead / Speedway / Kiss Me a Lot / Certain People I Know / I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris / Istanbul / World Peace Is None of Your Business / Staircase at the University / One of Our Own / Trouble Loves Me / The Bullfighter Dies / Neal Cassady Drops Dead / Meat Is Murder / Yes, I Am Blind / Kick the Bride Down the Aisle / I'm Not a Man / Asleep / Everyday Is Like Sunday

Pete's 2 Cents

2 Cents

"Two cents" of guitar


Asked to write something for this webpage I could only come up with one single subject: the guitar... I can't claim having any skills on the guitar worth mentioning, but I think I do have some experience in guitar-tone. I improved on the motto to "try everything and keep the good stuff" by replacing it with "I like to avoid making mistakes by learning from others". Needless to say, there still have been plenty mistakes of my own my making along the way. And so, with this article I'd like to contribute to help others avoid my mine. Also, to put it into a guitar-analogy: it would be nice to help cancel out some of the humbug and myths like humbuckers do with hum...
Since tone is subjective and so many factors influence guitar-tone, it's sad but inevitable that the internet is filled with impolite debates, hypes and nonsensical noise on the field of guitar tone. And then there's commerce. Companies want to sell products and they can happily claim to produce just those products that give even the most average guitar-player all the mojo they need to feel like real rock-stars. And who would deny wanting to be a rock-star!

An enormous amount of factors influence tone... If I were to start all over again in a search for a rig that gives me the tones that I like, I would now stick to a few principles and points of attention I wasn't very aware of when I started.
• First, the obvious: let your own ears decide what is a good sound; be critical.
• A common wisdom but still true: most of the tone is in your fingers. If you play like a damp newspaper, you're gonna sound like one, no matter how expensive your guitar/amp/effects.
• Keep your setup as simple as possible. Guitar, cable, amp; less is more.
• At what volume do you want to play? A (tube)amp on a whisper-quiet volume level is going to "choke" and will not reach its full potential; to say the least. Remember, by the way, to protect your ears, even a 5 watt tube amp can reach deafening volume-levels!
• Related to the previous point: you may want to emulate a certain favourite guitarist, but that doesn't mean you should have the exact same gear that he uses; unless you are also going to play on comparable stage-sizes as he does.
• Don't set up your guitar with cable-like string-gauges just because your favourite guitarist uses them. It's true that thicker strings usually give a better tone, but they are also harder to play; if thinner strings are more comfortable for you, I would go for those.
• Buying unheard/unplayed = gambling. It may be inviting to order on the internet, but always try before you buy. To my surprise I found many reviews on the internet in which disappointed consumers told their stories about how the expensive products they ordered turned out not to sound as expected.
• Guitars from the same brand and type can differ quite a lot from each other in tone and playability.
• Be very critical with stories about vintage guitars. You may very well end up paying an enormous amount of money for a guitar that has accumulated a number of defects over the years.
• Be equally critical with stories about guitars made out of special woods that are supposed to give you incredible tone. There are a lot of myths or at least exaggerations about this.

To stick with this last point for a while: I want to share a few thoughts on this. In a nutshell, regarding solid electric guitars: if wood has any influence at all, it is very limited. I know this is a bold statement if, for instance, a guitar-builder like John Suhr has a whole list of woods on his website, including descriptions of the way a particular type of wood influences tone1. Who am I to say that is nonsense?
Well, there are a few indications about the degree of influence on the tone. What I noticed when I bought a Strat a number of years ago, was that the best sounding one also had a major flaw: the neck wasn't resting properly on the body at on one side... Now if the influence of the wood would have been significant, there should have been a significant change in tone after I had the neck mounted properly. To my surprise it totally didn't seem to make a difference... By the way, the sound shouldn't have been very good in the first place, when the neck still hadn't been properly mounted, but right away it had been much better sounding than the other Strats that I tried.

Also, I noticed on John Suhr's website, after reading all his comments on which wood to choose, that he also tells a story in which he one time had witnessed Van Halen playing in the studio. Suhr writes that to his surprise Van Halen had "in every aspect his signature tone", although he had been playing a "headless, woodless Steinberger"2. It's good to read that in this little cameo, Suhr more or less undermines his whole list of wood-specifications and their influence on guitar-tone. Suhr concludes that much of the tone is in the fingers, implying that the lesser gods should stick with the prescribed tone-woods to get a good tone. Although a great guitar-builder, I think Suhr has let commercial motives outweigh the more obvious conclusion that wood just doesn't make much difference, if any.

Surely a guitar builder wants to offer his customers a range of options to choose from. And if you would visit the Suhr-forum, you will find a whole range of guitarists that each own quite a number of Suhr-guitars, discussing on tone-woods3. It's sobering to switch to YouTube and watch the film4 in which someone records the tone of a normal wooden (Ash) Strat, disassembles it; puts the same neck and all the hardware on an acrylic/perspex Strat-body and records the tone again. I couldn't hear a significant difference, although some YouTube-commenters seemed convinced they did. Let me just say there was so very little difference that discussions about the use and influence of alder, mahogany, swamp-ash or basswood seem laughable. Remember, on the forum people for instance claim to know that having a thin layer of maple on top of a basswood body adds boosts the high or middle frequencies... as if they could hear it. Bottom line: better put some time in investigating different pickups.

1.John Sur tone woods
2.BJFE: What is the best rig you've ever heard?
3.Suhr forum: A little advice on maple
4.Youtube: Does wood effect electric guitar tone (part 4)

In The Spotlight

Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine


Born Thomas Miller in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1949. Verlaine (who borrowed his artist name from the French poet) was trained as a pianist but got interested in rock music because of The Rolling Stones. In 1968 he moved to New York where he formed the Neon Boys with Richard Meyers (aka Richard Hell) and drummer Billy Fica. In the early 70's Richard Lloyd also joined on guitar. In 1973 the band changed their name to Television. Debuting with an impressive (but hardly commercial) 12" (or 2 x 7") single in 1975, "Little Johnny Jewel", Television became one of the great bands of the New York punk-rock scene often playing alongside the Patti Smith Group, Ramones and Talking Heads in CBGB's and later also in Max's Kansas city. By that time Hell had left to start the Heartbreakers with guitarist Johnny Thunders. He was replaced by ex-MC5 and Blondie bassist Fred Smith. "Little Johnny Jewel" attracted the attention of major record labels. The band signed with Elektra and started working on their debut.

Released in 1977, "Marquee Moon" is a stunning guitar-rock album. It has influences ranging from the Velvet Underground and garage-rock to surf-music, improvisational jazz and minimalistic music. Solid songstructures and Verlaine's terse vocals head into long instrumental sections full of terrific guitar-interplay. While Lloyd (technically the better player) had the habit of writing down his guitar solos, Verlaine worked more instinctive, off the wall. "Marquee Moon" is a highlight of the New York 70's scene and one of the best albums of that decade. "Marquee Moon" just made the Billboard 200 but did reach a respectable top 30 in the UK, stirred by the raving reviews it received.

Sensing that their debut was impossible to top, the approach for the follow-up was different. "Adventure", released in April 1978, is a more-produced and softer album. It's more disciplined and has less room for surprises. Even if it's not as surprising and classic as the debut, the songs and performances are fine throughout. "Adventure" sold even less in the US than "Marquee Moon" but got to no. 7 in the UK. Unfortunately, due to a lack of succes, musical differences and a drug addiction by Lloyd the band fell apart that same year.

With his first two strong solo albums "Tom Verlaine" (1979) and "Dreamtime" (1981) Verlaine confirmed he was the main writer for Television (though Richard Lloyd's "Alchemy" (1979) is highly recommended) . Angular rockers (and a mid-tempo ballad now and then) with spare instrumentation are decorated with flashy guitarhooks. Follow-up "Words From The Front" (1982) is less consistent but still a very solid album with some remarkable solos (check out "True Story"). On his fourth album "Cover" (1984) Verlaine tries new (wave) directions in a successful way. The arrangements are more intricate and quirky. "Flash Light" (1987), co-produced by Fred Smith, is more accessible and rocks harder. This is the last in an impressive batch of solo albums. From here on, Verlaine seems to lose interest in his solo career and focuses more on producing, making music for soundtracks and occassionally backing-up Patti Smith.

During the 90's Verlaine only delivers two new solo albums. The slow, slickly produced "The Wonder" (1990) is disappointing. The instrumental "Warm and Cool" (1992) is enjoyable but hardly essential (except "Saucer Crash" perhaps).

In 1992 Television reforms and record a third selft-titled album. "Television", follows the lyrical, restrained approach of Verlaine's recent solo albums. With the big difference that Lloyd is back to trade licks. Though "Television" is not as classic as the first two albums, it's a strong album ("Call Mr Lee" is a highlight) which features some terrific guitarwork. Television infrequently perform live resulting in one live-album, "Live at the Academy NYC, 12.4.92". Due to health-issues Lloyd decides to leave the band in 2007, he is replaced by Jimmy Rip (ex-Paul Collins Beat, Debbie Harry). The band have been working on a 4th album but nothing has been released so far.

In 2006, surprisingly, Verlaine releases two albums at once. The interesting instrumental "Around" and "Songs And Other Stories", the true follow-up to "Flash Light". Featuring some of his best solo songs, "Songs And Other Stories" is a delight. In 2011 Verlaine is chosen as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time by Rollings Stone.

How to buy Tom Verlaine: • Television - Marquee Moon, 1977
• Tom Verlaine - Tom Verlaine, 1979
• Tom Verlaine - Dreamtime, 1981
• Television - Adventure, 1978
• Tom Verlaine - Cover, 1984
• Tom Verlaine - Flashlight, 1987

Links: The Wonder
Tom Verlaine on Myspace
Tom Verlaine in RS 100 Greatest guitarists

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