Friday, March 27, 2009

Post 1000 on Alienated In Vancouver, plus Art Bergmann last night

Art Bergmann with Jon Card at the Summer of Love festivities in Kits, 2008
Photo by Femke van Delft

Damn, man... this is my 1000th posting on this site. I should throw a party for myself.

Upcoming - I hope to speak to Ray Fulber, if he still is keen to talk, about the Lost Art Bergmann CD (see my review in the Straight, and, if you care about Vancouver music, buy this CD as soon as possible; I wrote that review based on three or four spins of the CD, having received it the day before my deadline, but the more I hear it, the more awe-inspiring it becomes). I also hope he'll be willing to comment on last night's concert, which must have been stressful as hell for the guy. For all its brilliant moments - and there were many - the show was a bit more of a car wreck than I expected, though a (voyeuristically) fascinating and perhaps even oddly inspiring carwreck, if such a thing may be tastefully said. (There is also the question of whether it was a contrived carwreck - if Art deliberately decided to push things past a certain safe limit, which is not outside the realm of possibility, though a dangerous way to go about bein' a performer). I somehow had been under the impression prior to the show that Art had stopped drinking; can't say where I got that idea. Performances veered between being chillingly effective and spot-on - Art can still scream like a motherfucker - and embarrassingly ramshackle and halting, often within the same song, with a seething, frustrated Bergmann harrassing poor "ringer" guitarist Tony Baloney (or does he spell that Balony?) or wrestling with the mike stand, occasionally chucking it on the stage in a petulant/ drunken fit. Though at other times he danced, smiled, and definitely seemed to get "into" it, Art often seemed pissed that the band wasn't able to do things quite up to the level he wanted (also throwing a barb at Taylor Little, calling him "John Bonham" at one point); but then neither could Art, who seemed in particular to be having a hard time with the fact that he was unable to play guitar, and given to abusively micromanaging Balony (who should receive an "I Survived the March 26th 2009 Art Bergmann gig" t-shirt for his efforts last night). All of this gave a raw, electric, slightly scary energy to the performances, so that when they veered out of the abyss back towards the realm of showmanship, they were amazing - blood-chillingly powerful, raw stuff. I predict that some reviewers will compare Art to a caged tiger (tho' I've never seen a tiger lie on top of a bar before. I'm told he used to do that now and then when he was playing guitar, too). There was a certain amount of suspense hovering over the question of whether the band would actually make it to the end of the show in one piece, such that it was kind of a relief when it was over... though if Art were playing again tonight, I'd definitely go.

A one-off, eh? (Or so Bergmann and Fulber suggested to Varty). It's a shame: there's a lot of fire left in this guy (and piss and blood and bile, too).

9 comments:

William Scott Scherk said...

Good review. I felt like I was in the room with the mike-stands flying. Videos of the event have already appeared on Youtube, dontcha know.

http://vdoc.ca/videoTests/bergmann.htm

ammacinn said...

Holy cripes, great vid - complete with Art crowding Tony, teasing him with thrown-water-electrocution threats, then chucking the water bottle into the pit; and yet it's also a roaring delivery of the song. (Tony's solo is pretty good, too, even if he ain't Art). Thanks for the link - it's a pleasure to have the esteemed Bill Scherk commentin' here. Cheers -

A.

ammacinn said...

And speaking of Youtube vids of the show, here's another, "Vultura Freeway," the encore, and probably the most "decayed" performance of the night:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAlDeqpR8iI

Note Art's "I could do better than THAAAAT" scream at the beginning...

A.

ammacinn said...

Or "The Junkie Don't Care:"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHpcnFpVfhs

A.

Chris W said...

Poor Jon Card. Why didn't his parents just spell "John" the same way everyone else did?

Chris W said...

Poor Jon Card. Why didn't his parents just spell "John" the same way everyone else did?

ammacinn said...

This is, of course, Chris' polite way of reminding me to check my spelling. I have done so! Thanks...

A.

sandy said...

This show was amazing! I could not stop smiling for the first half of the show. It was everything I hoped it would be. A brilliant controlled trainwreck. I loved that he opened with Dirge 1. Strange that he left out some of this more popular songs, but that suited me fine. I sincerely hope someone filmed that whole show or they did a board tape. I'd snap it up in an instant.

If it wasn't filmed it'd be a damn shame. Nice vid Willam! the audio on the Youtube clips is unfortunately really bass heavy that cancels everything out.

I hope this gives Art some inspiration to do either some new music or some more shows.

Anonymous said...

Hi Al,

Thanks for the review! Did you have a chance to see Rat Silo?

Hoo-boy that first Sons of Freedom album was a classic.

On youtube I put in Art Bergmann and under 'uploaded' chose this week. There are now 7 videos.

see ya, Jude