RADIO BIRDMAN
FIFTY FOOT COMBO (Belgium)
Salle du Vigean. Eysines, France
September 4, 2003

By VINCENT MORANDI

Before I came to Eysines after a 600km trip , I was a little bit afraid about the place because I heard that Salle du Vigean was a theatre or something like that and not a rock 'n' roll place. And you know when you are waiting for such an event as Radio Birdman playing live, you want everything to be all right. In fact, Salle du Vigean is a gymnasium prepared for 1,000 people (with just beer taps for a pathetic blonde ale).

The show was originally planned for a rock 'n' roll club called "le CAT", in Bordeaux and was changed to a bigger place when the promoter was told that 150 tickets were already booked from Spain, a month ago. But just 50 people were inside when the first band came on stage, Fifty Foot Combo.

They played one hour of instrumental, psychotronic surf music. The music was cool, but the venue was too big for their sound and they were a little rigid because of their role as opening band. As they told me later, they used to be the STARS of the show. Sorry little boys, itÕs not for you tonight! (A band like Holy Curse - who supported in Nancy - would have been more appropriate). However, I know Fifty Foot Combo's records and I had already seen them in a small club, so I can say that they can kick a place hard. Good luck!

During the set, the place become more full (perhaps 700 people). Two articles in the local papers might have helped a little. A large community of Spanish rockÕ n rollers was actually here and I was able to recognize some people from the local scene or French bands like Jerry Spider Gang. The average age of the crowd was more 25 than 20. A lot of beards. A lot of Radio Birdman T shirts (a little touch of devotion ?) and other classic references as MC5 or Zen Guerrilla worn by the ones with afros.

Staff switched off the lights and after a long sample of "Are You Experienced?", Radio Birdman came on stage amid artificial smoke. And to set eyes on the entire group in front of a large red flag with the Birdman logoÉ Woah! "Burn My Eyes" was their first attack. Loud, sonicÉ I was directly into it. It was not the case for a part of the crowd. They were here to watch. So the band had to work harder to hit them right in their heart.

But each song was a blast for me. "Do the Pop", "I-94", "Hangin' On", "Murder City Nights". They played almost all of "Radio Appears" and the best of "Living Eyes". Some people complained about bad acoustics! OK, but Birdman gave us just what we really needed: a direct guitar sound , with no effects, no posing, just rock and roll. And during the whole show I realized how unpretentious they are! Forget the "Ritualism" album and think more about Powertrane's "Ann Arbor Revival Meeting" album if you want a comparison about the vibes. And the vibes touched the crowd.

The band won the war (and the crowd)! Deniz Tek smiled !!! They played better and better as the sert went on. They did wonderful versions of "Man with Golden Helmet" and "Crying Sun", among others!!! Superb version of "Dark Surprise" (yeah, they played it). Some covers: "Route 66", "Waiting for the Man", both played with the Birdman touch. Irresistible. The solos came from either side with Tek and Masuak sharing them. They ended their third encore with "You Gonna Miss Me", dedicated (in French by Mr Jim Dickson) to Dominique Laboubˇe, singer of the Dogs (another myth for somebody) who passed away last year.

The lights turned on. I realized that they'd played almost two hours. Everyone sweated a lot, a smile fixed on their faces (me too!) Should I go to another date of the tour to see if they change their set, and to count the differences between the two performances? All I know is that I will always have this show in my mind. Three days later and I donÕt wanna forget it.

Technically: Because of not enough Pip Hoyle at the debut.

Sincerely: because of the sonic effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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