Glasgow: Clyde Auditorium, Wed 16 Feb.
Counting Crows are six months into an eighteen-month tour, promoting current album, This Desert Life, released nearly four years after its forerunner, Recovering The Satellites.
Produced by David Lowery (Camper Van Beethoven) and Dennis Herring (Throwing Muses), Charles Gillingham, chief organ grinder, feels the band's admiration for the duo’s previous work was well-placed, proclaiming them, 'a good team. . . perfect for us.’
While frontman Adam Durvitz assumed lyrical control, musically the album was ‘very collaborative, with no rules. Some songs came out of jams or little riffs. Some songs Adam just came up with.’ The result is a less edgy, more harmonic collection, suggesting Counting ..
Crows have mellowed. In their defence, Gillingham employs diplomacy: ‘lt's rougher and more polished at the same time. It's much more natural. It’s just music that we like. I think it's our best and most honest record. We've always been an alternative to other alternatives. We've never been part of the latest thing.’
Maybe. but recently the band embraced the latest thing, performing at NetAid. A big deal? ’It was great to hang around with Sheryl Crow's band. It was old friends day.’ Nice. But. what did it mean to the band? 'I have no idea what it all meant. I was asking. "What exactly are we doing that’s helping anybody?" All it was was a web site linked to other websites. To me it was a big "So what?" By the end of the day I felt the whole thing was a big ad for Cisco IT systems. There we go. I said it. Crucify me.’
So if Internet altruism is a marketing scam, what plots may Time Warner, EMI and AOL's merger spawn?
Web of intrigue: Counting Crows
Gillingham, whose label Geffen underwent consolidation, cannot predict the musical repercussions but believes AOL’s contribution to this menage a trois in terms of MP3, the downloadable audio file format, will be positive. ’From an artist's point of view it’s a wonderful opportunity. The industry isn’t very kind to artists. Anything giving musicians more choices puts them in a better negotiating position. Artists will ask themselves, “00 I need ten cents a record sale when I can get $1 from this guy who just wants to give it away so he can sell ads?” They're making money whatever way. It's a good thing.’
Counting Crows hit Britain this month having encountered a recent tour hiccup. The Press Office cited bad weather Stateside. Gillingham vaguely clarifies the situation: ’Yeah, we were in Illinois and it was really cold.‘ You'll love Scotland then. (Susan Mackenzie)
Brave New Worlds
Edinburgh: Queen's Hall, Tue 8, IS, 22
Man of the world: Pianist Peter
38 "IE U81 3-17 Feb 2000
Mention the words ’New World' and ’classical music’ in the same sentence, and it's a pretty sure-fire bet that Dvorak's Symphony No 9 ’From The New World’ will come to mind. But Dvorak was not the only composer who travelled to America, leaving the rich traditions of his homeland and its folk music. Bartok, Janacek, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky, for their own various reasons, came to the New World too (although Janacek perhaps only in abstract terms, as his journey stopped at London). In a new ’Tuesday’s Live’ series for broadcast on Radio 3, the BBC’s Classical Music Unit in Glasgow has put together a fascinating portfolio of some of the solo and ensemble music to come from this changing time of musical history.
'It is one of the ironies of musical life that the exodus of many composers to the New World should come about just when the value of folk music was being recognised,’ says senior producer William Robson. ’Though the wars and political strife in Europe drove many away from their homelands, the vigour and sheer dynamism of the folk
traditions stayed in their music.’
Well known pieces such as Bartok’s Romanian Dances and Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances are cleverly juxtaposed in the series not only with music from the emerging nations, but with Beethoven and Mozart too. The music may, therefore, not be new to our ears, but, says broadcaster Kirsteen McCue who presents the series, ’the intention is to start thinking about it in a different way.’
The performers are all of exceptional quality. ’Of course it will be pure entertainment,’ promises McCue. ’The double piano recital with Peter Donohoe and Martin Roscoe is a stormer. But it will also be something more, because these composers were very important in bringing the music of other nations to the world's attention.’
For Robson, the series is also a way of pointing up a thread through music that is almost a century old. 'lt‘s all vigorous and exciting,’ he says, ’and I think that is what the composers jumped on. They were getting away from being erudite and intellectual, and allowed to be more dramatic.’ (Carol Main)
The thrills, spills and unpaid bills of the music world
MOBY MANIA HAS struck Glasgow. It was not sufficient to merely reschedule his Garage live date on Friday 4 February to Saturday 26 February, the demand for tickets was such that it has now been shifted up to the Barrowland on the same night. Tickets for the previous shows are still valid for the Barrowland date.
ON THE SUBJECT of rescheduling dates, Edinburgh’s newest and shiniest venue, the Corn Exchange, is playing host to one-day blues festival, Blues 2000, which is not as previously announced on Saturday 29 April, but Sunday 30 April. Names confirmed so far include US folk- blues vocalist Odetta and harmonica master Lazy Lester. A headline act and full support bill will be announced very soon.
AFTER THEIR SELL-OUT show in Glasgow last year, God Speed You Black Emperor! return to these shores for two Scottish dates in March. Monday 27 March sees them arrive in sunny Aberdeen to play at the Lemon Tree and Tuesday 28 March sees them sonically disturb those in the know at Glasgow's Garage.
LOU REED RETURNS to what is allegedly one of his favourite ever venues for his first date in Scotland for some years now with an evening at the Playhouse on Monday 15 May as part of his ‘Ecstasy Tour'.
ANOTHER FACE POPPING up in the month of May is Paul Weller, who has confirmed two dates in Scotland to promote his new album Heliocentric, which is released in early April. He plays Glasgow Barrowland on Friday 12 May and Edinburgh's Playhouse Sunday 14 May.
TALKING AS WE were about old fellas on tour, Van Morrison has announced dates with legendary American blues singer Bobby Bland and his band in tow. See him at Glasgow Clyde Auditorium on Saturday 18 March.
Playhouse bound Paul Weller