Preview: Music Appreciation Social Séance (MASS)
Ahead of comedian Top Joe’s Music Appreciation Social Séance (MASS) events in Liverpool and Leeds, Top gives us the lowdown on his favourite live performances of all time.
Shakespeare once said “If music be the food of love, play on”.
Shakespeare’s Sister once said “If music be the food of love, play on-stage - live - with a PA and a pair of decent mics, like Shure SM58’s.”
Never have truer a word been said.
I would like to add that the process of watching live music is a wonderful thing. It is a transcendent experience, akin to swimming with Dolphins. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing both at the same time.
I’ve been lucky in my time to watch many of the greats - but there are many I regret to have missed... So, without any further ado, I would like to give a short seminar on some of the most legendary live music events ever to have taken place over the 20th and 21st Centuries; with accompanying video clips provided by my friend/enemy/acquaintance - Dave Lazenby.
Here we go:
Kraftwerk at Manchester Velodrome - 2009
Over the course of their careers - electro pioneers Kraftwerk have developed into critically acclaimed auteurs of the live spectacle. Bringing together music and performance art Kraftwerk concerts are a true "Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art.” In July 2009 they combined their twin passions of cycling and music to present a stunning work at Manchester Velodrome which presented their utopian and idiosyncratic vision of the future.
Bob Dylan at Newport Folk Festival - 1965
Bob Dylan broke onto the world stage with an acoustic six-string and a love for Woody Guthrie. He built his reputation around being a freewheeling troubadour who possessed an integrity not heard in other artists. Yet that all changed at the Newport Folk Festival, a now infamous moment in history when Bob Dylan went “electric”. The performance only lasted 15 minutes before Dylan stormed off stage, overcome by the booing crowd, who were incensed that he would turn his back on folk. He was later coaxed back on to perform two acoustic numbers, but didn’t return to the festival for 37 years.
The Cure at The Tempodrom, Berlin - 2002
Over three consecutive nights The Cure played one album each in its entirety from their inexplicably dark ‘Trilogy’ set of albums. Not only technically demanding, but emotionally exhausting considering the content of these albums. Robert Smith has since said of the concerts: "The albums Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers are inextricably linked in so many ways, and the realisation of this Trilogy show is one of the highlights of my time in The Cure."
Neil Young at Farm Aid, Memorial Stadium, Illinois - 1985
When it comes to farmers, Canadian-born Neil Young has always had his heart in the all the right places. Along with Willie Nelson and John Cougar Mellencamp, Young created Farm Aid in 1985 as a way of helping struggling American farmers. There have been other Farm Aid shows in this recurring event, but the first stands out among the rest. The guest list was lengthy and Young went out of his way to connect with the crowd.
Will.i.am. on The Voice UK - 2016
Recognised as one of the most chameleonic artists of the 21st Century, Will.i.am is an exhilarating performer who pushes the live medium to new heights. In 2016 he performed this groundbreaking work to an unsuspecting audience there for the final of UK television programme ‘The Voice’. This performance has since gone down in history as the moment that Will.i.am, (always one step ahead of the curve), performed a moving tribute to surrealist playwright Samuel Beckett in what was clearly a nod to the playwright’s most artistically ambitious work “Not I” - a work that takes place in a pitch-black space save for a disembodied mouth eight feet above the stage. An exhausting feat of endurance for any actor who takes on the role - the mouth utters jumbled sentences at a ferocious pace, which obliquely tell the story of a woman of about seventy who was abandoned by her parents and has lived a loveless, mechanical existence. This work of art is an honour to witness.