London, UK ... May 25, 2010... Bush Hall
- From Kalevi: It is 20 years now since I got introduced to Mazzy Star. It must have been by MTV which wasn't the crap you see the days.They were actually heading for they golden period as Music Television then.That really happened with Nirvana who forced the channel to play proper music even daytime for a couple of years.But even before Kurt & co they had a program called 120 Minutes on Sunday nights if I remember right introduced by Paul King or was it Ray Cokes. Maybe both on their turn.
That program on MTV was 120 minutes of indie music and indie really was indie then. The videos weren't often up to much but the music wasmostly interesting.These were the years in the end of shoegazing period and besides that very English phenomenon in music they played a lot American alternative stuff as well and that was a lot harder to come by in Finland. You might get the records from few very specialized music shops but first you had to know what you were after and that's were 120 Minutes made themselves useful to people with post punk neo psychedelic wide tastes like me then.
So it's probably 120 Minutes where I heard and saw Hope Sandoval the first time.Or maybe it was a music bi-monthly called Option or another one called The Bob which actually was a tabloid then. My first Mazzy Star record She Hangs Brightly I bought as a vinyl LP when released and what also got me interested was that I already had records by the Rain Parade and the Dream Syndicate.The latter even played a gig in Finland.And of course from Rain Parade via Opal came Mazzy Star with only guitarist David Roback and Hope there as a duo. Mazzy Star recorded three albums of which I think the first is the strongest. It still is the best place to start if you are a newcomer to Hope Sandoval's music.
Of the people who filled Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush in London for two nights on Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th May most seemed to be well informed on all things Hope. I myself had booked my ticket in the start of March when it had gone down to 18 tickets left. It was time to act. You don't get this opportunity often and it's even more rare if you are Finnish.
Now I have both of the Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions albums but I must admit I realised I hadn't been listening them keenly enough to recognize even half of the songs in the set but it still was a night to enjoy. In concerts like this you get feeling of being part of some half secret tribe or let's face it, a cult. Mazzy Star was quite well known -- popular even -- in the beginning of 90s that culminating with them having a song "Tell me now" in Batman Forever movie 1995.
Of the two Warm Inventions records the latter Through the Devil Softly from 2009 is definitely the stronger which bode well for the live concerts.Hope being sort of secretive and shy person I couldn't really imagine there would be a full electric band behind her on these gigs.Sandoval's netsite only mentions Hope and Colm Ó Cíosóig from which you could think they would perform as a duo and maybe do that elsewhere after this.
Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions had Irish band Dirt Blue Gene as warm up act and then after them there was a guitar player alone who in his turn was joined by other musicians on a jam and as I turned most af the musicians were to be the Warm Inventions as well for the night and maybe other nights to come. I really don't have that clear a picture of who all the players besides Hope and Colm where.We live in the age of modern communication but sometimes you have to feel it would really help if the bands would introduce themselves when on stage. I remember seeing a catalog of gigs in various places by change without ever knowning who I've seen or heard. So come on you musicians, introduce yourself - even once. There can't be no word of mouth if audiences don't know the magic word and by that I only sometimes mean the name of the band.
Dirt Blue Gene emerged as a sort a psychedelic jam band without the solos there were in improvised electric music of the late 60's and early 70's. But they build up some quite impressive peaks - and the same was to be with the band when playing with Hope. It was about 21:50 when Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions started. Before that a voice - their bass player I think - announced "Thank you for coming. Let us remind you that there will be no photography whatsoever tonight".
The hall had been dark all night and by this time it had become even darker. With many people insisting to sit on the floor in the beginning of the evening there were many instances when someone almost walked on somebody when coming in through the door from the lights of the bar. Also the Japanise couple next to me on the right wall from the stage must been bit disappointed having all the taller people gathering in front of them now.Not the best of views they first looked to have.
As I didn't make notes I can't tell to song list or anything. It's only human to go with the ones you know. On the new record Trouble is the strongest song to me and so it seemed to be for most of the audience. Suzanne from Bavarian Fruit Bread got even warmer reception. It's a funny sort of hyprid song not close enough to the original from Leonard Cohen to be a cover but close enough to call it an answer song to the original maybe.The set seemed to constitute most of the new album.
As I was close the stage a right I had the nice feeling of my trouser legs vibrating along the bass lines so that should tell you that the band really played electric. As for Hope she was all we could ask for, the dreamy voice with the spacey songs. Besides singing she played the glockenspeil now and then and harmonica couple of times in first three songs. The harmonica sound was used more like a feedback effect and you could tell that Hope wasn't so sure of herself with blowing the thing because it was the only time I saw her flash a smile turning back to band the second time trying.
As for the photography nobody flashed anything and behaved up to the expectation. For what turned out the last two songs of the set I want back to the hall and only then realised there was a projector show behind the band on the wall. That worked really well for the encore (Satellite?) with waves of a storm and every sorts of things that brought the night to a powerful end with the band still adding extra force when she left the stage. So there it was, the first time after 20 years of being a fan I saw Hope Sandoval.
My native language is Finnish but I tried to write this in English because there aren't any reviews on the Hope Live topic really.