19th August 2019 1st show
There cannot be many singers around today who have had such a diverse career as Neneh Cherry. Starting out as a backing singer for all-girl Punk outfit The Slits, she was next part of Rip Rig + Panic who were a band that defied categorizing due to their post-punk mix of Pop, Jazz and Avant-Garde topped with Neneh’s Soul vocal. Then in 1989, she released her debut solo album Raw Like Sushi and had a worldwide hit with Buffalo Stance, a piece of music that is today listed as Hip-hop, Dance-Pop and Freestyle. Three decades later, her latest release is titled Broken Politics – you can find it in the Trip-hop section of your local record shop.
Tonight Neneh is backed by an array of equipment on stage that NASA would be happy to own. In an eclectic mixture of old and new instruments, there were two computers with two operators (including husband Cameron McVey), a percussionist with congas and timbales who also provided the backing vocals, an electronic drum kit, a harpist who doubled on bass and a bassist (who looked very uncomfortable playing for some reason) who later on went over to a third computer/box of tricks that made weird noises every now and then. Occasionally swamped in effects, Neneh’s voice is a good as ever as she sings about some very serious topics from Broken Politics, those songs of which take up over half the show. They work really well live, flowing naturally and presumably, so as not to break up that flow, the older songs (e.g. Woman) have been given a make-over. For the purists in the audience, this was probably not a good thing but it brings the songs in line with the atmosphere of the entire concert.
As you would expect from Neneh’s background and her reputation for blending and fusing genres, it is a night of extraordinary atmosphere musically, enhanced by an atmospheric and occasionally trippy light show. The beats and rhythms at times pulsate, throb, groove and float and the audience nod and sway in time to it but it took Buffalo Stance to finally get them on their feet and let loose. Again, the arrangement was re-worked but even in this incarnation, it is still one of the most highly recognizable songs of the era and although Neneh herself said during the show that she ‘wasn’t one for nostalgia’, her audience obviously is. That said, there is no doubt they enjoyed the new material just as much as the old and they left the show with big smiles on their faces.
It really is impossible to categorize Neneh. Transcending so many styles may not be to everyone’s taste and it’s ironic that someone who has covered so many categories, herself, cannot be categorized. However, you can put her in a league and that league, is a league of her own.
Shot Gun Shack
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Faster Than The Truth
Natural Skin Deep
US + THEM (FILM)
I have in my time seen a few hundred officially filmed Rock concerts and over the years through advances in technology and lighting, they have improved dramatically. Most modern ones are well recorded visually and sonically with multiple cameras that capture the atmosphere and surround sound mixes that help to envelope you and make you feel like you were there but Roger Waters has taken the medium to another level; this is no ordinary film of a Rock concert. It is a gig, a show, Roger’s songs married to his message - a political statement - that will have you at times in awe and tears.
This production never came to Japan (but let’s not give up hope yet) and not being one to watch audience shot smartphone footage on YouTube, went into it with no idea or expectations at all and I hope you can experience it the same way. Lavishly shot and with crystal clear sound, the music envelopes you while you sit transfixed to the screen watching the most original production you could imagine. Musically, every one of the musicians is on the top of their game and Roger himself is a picture of pure concentration. He really wants to get his message across and he succeeds but he’s also enjoying it, reveling in the opportunity perform his music and present it in a way that will make people think. Don’t be put off by that though; yes it is political but he has achieved the right balance between the message and the music. It’s well known that he’s anti-Donald Trump and sure enough, when he does Pigs (Three Different Ones), Trump gets a battering but Roger doesn’t label the point; he knows that would be a step too far for even the most ardent fans. Over and above everything else going on, it’s the music that matters the most and the film in glorious 4K definition adds to it.
So the visuals are stunning, the music is of course brilliant, what else is there left to say except go and watch it! The film has a limited initial run in Japan at selected theatres (see below) so see it while you can. Oh and don’t leave while the end credits are rolling either as there is a 15 minute documentary of the rehearsals!
Speak to Me
One of These Days
The Great Gig in the Sky
Welcome to the Machine
The Last Refuge
Wish You Were Here
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Us and Them
The Last Refuge Reprise