Gettin' booglarized in Margate
18th November 2015
Captain Beefheart's Magic Band have been touring in one form or another since Simpsons creator Matt Groening urged them to reunite for an All Tomorrows Parties festival he curated in 2006. I remember hearing a John Peel session around that time and being quite bowled over by how great they sounded (and how well John "Drumbo" French handled Beefheart's vocal lines). In recent times they've been down to Drumbo and "Rockette" Morton on bass, plus a bunch of new recruits, and then for this tour, Rockette had to pull out as he's recovering from heart surgery. So it was just Drumbo and some relative youngsters — but WOW! what a band...
They played songs from across the Beefheart canon, the setlist being more-or-less this:
My Human Gets Me Blues
Low Yo Yo Stuff
Diddy Wah Diddy (Bo Diddley cover)
When It Blows Its Stacks (featuring an incredible "shredding duel" between the two guitarists)
Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles
Tropical Hot Dog Night
Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hit a Man
Ant Man Bee
Hair Pie Bake I
Bat Chain Puller
Steal Softly Through Snow
Moonlight on Vermont
Big Eyed Beans From Venus
Drumbo didn't just do the vocals (with total commitment and flair), he also handled the Captain's saxophone and harmonica parts as well as getting involved in the drumming (otherwise the responsibility of Andrew Niven). It could all have seemed a bit weird and forced, but in the moment it seemed like the most amazing live band you're ever likely to see. The two guitarists (Max Kutne and Eric Klerks) were mind-bogglingly talented, while the newest recruit (Brian Havey) calmly held down the crazy bass parts on his keyboard.
The audience were largely ecstatic by the end (a lot of us up and dancing for "Big-Eyed Beans From Venus" encore), but not everyone was into it from a couple of things I overheard — I think they were disappointed that Von Vliet himself wasn't there, but surely they knew what (not) to expect? Anyway, I was fully booglarized, and am likely to stay that way for a while now...