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Roisin Dwyer, 22 Oct 2012
Opening as he has for most of his recent dates with the swirling, nebulous jam ‘Captain Hook’, John Cale sets an uncompromising tone for this strangely detached performance. Throughout a muted set, he rarely engages verbally with the crowd, let alone makes eye contact. The towering, suited figure with the shock of white hair remains defiantly behind his keyboard for most of the evening. But perhaps, given his Godlike output over the years, he has earned the right.
Tonight’s set is culled primarily from recent material. Highlights from latest long-player Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood include the ethereal, discordant melodies of ‘Face To The Sky’ and the dark, hypnotic spell of the electro-tinged ‘December Rains’. He also draws from last year’s five-track EP Extra Playful. We are treated to the rather excellent upbeat rock-fused swagger of ‘Catastrofuk’ and the earthy, uplifting strains of ‘Whaddya Mean By That?’ (on which he plays guitar). Plus Cale enters reminiscing mode for the paean to his former associate Ray Johnson, ‘Hey Ray’. One of the night’s more memorable moments is the majestic ‘Helen Of Troy’ from the 1975 album of the same name, the imperious melody contrasting deliciously with its gritty sensibilities. He also dips into the back catalogue to revisit the quirky playful canter of ‘Praetorian Underground’ from 1984’s Caribbean Sunset.
Despite the quality of material aired, this show curiously remains less than the sum of its parts. It seems on this occasion artist and audience failed to connect and Cale left sans encore.