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Cale John - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 23/6/2003

  by John Clarkson

published: 11 / 6 / 2003

Cale John - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 23/6/2003


A few days into his first European tour in several years, John Cale, over 30 years on from the Velvet Underground, contnues to make waves and create surprises at Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

The only certainty at a John Cale show is his bizarre stage wear. At his last Scottish gig in Edinburgh four years ago, the former Velvet Underground viola player and bassist came on stage wearing bright red winkle-pickers and a crumpled-up designer suit which looked like he had slept in it the night before. At tonight's show at Glasgow King Tut's, dressed in a over sized pair of bermuda shorts and a white smock which is again creased, a relaxed-looking Cale looks like he is just back from a camping holiday, rather than a major musician a few dates into his first European tour in several years. Throughout the 90's Cale concentrated largely on playing solo 'Greatest Hits' tours, accompanying himself on a grand piano and occasionally , for a few numbers in each show, an acoustic guitar. This set, however, finds him backed by a tight four piece band, and wildly flitting between keyboards, both the acoustic and the electric guitar, and the viola. It is a night of surprises. The classically-trained Cale is touring to promote a new EP, '5 Songs' and as yet-untitled and unreleased sample-based album, his first rock record since 1996's 'Walking on Locusts'. The results are magnificently eclectic. There are jazz-funk numbers, hip-hop tracks, and a couple of breezy pop songs,each of which, sung by Cale with his peculiar Welsh baritone, prove to be enticing enough to get most of the 30 and 40 something crowd shuffling their feet. It is only nearly halfway through his 90 minute set ,when Cale picks up his viola and starts to scrape out the opening chords of an especially funereal and macabre-sounding 'Venus in Furs', that he plays a song that the majority of his 250 strong audience know. Later on there is a scatty, discordant freeform version of 'Fear is a Man's Best Friend' , and the main set is closed with thunderous gung-ho guitar-rock versions of 'Gun' and Jonathan Richman's 'Pablo Picasso', the first of which flows into the second. Cale appears briefly back on to stage to play with the band his deranged cover of 'Heartbreak Hotel', and then, accompanying himself on guitar, the acoustic ballad, 'Thoughtless Kind'. "You guys have been great. I won't forget you" he tells the audience, before leaving the stage for the final time, his accent tinged after forty years of living in New York with a vague American lilt. It is the one cliche in what has otherwise been an otherwise unpredictable, but absolutely compelling evening. Rock's last maverick eccentric is back and looking assuredly towards the future !

Picture Gallery:-
Cale John - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 23/6/2003

Cale John - King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, 23/6/2003

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