The assorted middle aged prog rock enthusiasts, bogans, Bowie obsessives, King Crimson fans, avant guarde jazz purists, metalheads and younger fans who know guitar legend Adrian Belew through his work on NIN recordings make a strange composite gig audience, but together they are incredibly enthusiastic about loud guitar histrionics. Adrian Belew’s Power Trio (Belew on guitar, Julie Slick on bass and her brother Eric Slick on drums – no relation to Bowie guitarist Earl Slick as far as I know) performed an amazing show at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne on Wednesday night to open his 2008 Australian tour.
During his first visit to Australia as a headline musician in 2006 (King Crimson have never played in Australia, and Belew played for Bowie here in 1978) he played quite a different show with two local musicians (Al Slavik on bass guitar and stick and John Prior on drums) featuring his solo songs and King Crimson songs with only minor improvisations. In 2008, with the Power Trio having played together for two years around the world, the show featured more Belew material, less King Crimson material and a lot of extended improvisations.
Julie Slick (above) and Adrian Belew with Eric Slick (below).
Belew is one of the most amiable musicians I have ever seen on stage. It’s obvious that he loves playing live andÂ Â sharing his music with his audience. He has played with giants like David Bowie and Talking Heads and has a loyal cult following for his solo and King Crimson work, and he continues with his solo career touring the world playing in intimate venues like the Corner Hotel in Melbourne. It is wonderful to be able to see such a great musician up so close. The highlight for me was my favourite King Crimson song, Three of a perfect pair, which closed the main set.
Belew performed one completely new piece called E. He commented humorously that as it has not yet been recorded by the band or recorded at any other show, if people recorded it and posted it on the web it would save him the trouble of recording and releasing it himself. Sounds like he has been adopting Trent Reznor’s business model as well as playing on Ghosts. Like Reznor, Belew has strongly embraced the internet and has a comprehensive website, online store and blog. He really understands how he can use the internet to communicate with his audience.
Belew’s music attracts mostly a male audience. I’d estimate that the gender ratio was at least 10 men to every woman at the show, maybe as many as 20 to 1. Compared to 2006, however, there did seem to be more younger people at this show and in particular I was impressed to see some young women (not obviously associated with the metal scene at least in terms of how they dressed) in the audience. At the 2006 show I was almost the youngest in the crowd at 34, and this was definitely not true this time. This means that Belew is successful in building a new younger audience. Respect.
ps I just read in Robin Slick’s blog (Julie and Eric’s mother) that they visited Fitzroy! There’s a good picture of Eric on Brunswick St in Robin’s blog and Julie reviews the Vegie Bar and San Churro on her blog complete with some excellent pics.