Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebezeit and Burt Friedman, Paard van Troye, Den Haag 24/05

Rasping a celebratory greeting through a French horn, Czukay bestrode the stage like a seasoned pro, taking photos of the bewildered (though jubilant) audience for his website



Right. I hope I'm not going to give you the wrong impression, but I'm going to say this now, so as not to spoil an ecstatic review. Here goes...






(I'm ashamed of you all. When a man of the stature of Holger Czukay has to play to seventy people, then I begin to realise that there are some incredibly stupid, lazy, hypocritical, unenlightened fuckers out there. You missed out and I hope you regret it).



Right. On with the nice words.


We entered the Paard and were immediately confronted with (and I kid you not here) Holger Czukay himself, chatting animatedly to a cluster of very reverential fans. Oh shit. This was a chance that could not be missed. We joined the worshippers at the seat of the guru. An air of the baffled, eccentric professor hung about Mr H as he chatted to us about Can, Inner Space, and lots of other things that I wish I could remember. To be frank my chief memory is that of being utterly nervous. Oh well... you don't want to hear about this do you? You want to hear about the gig.


First up were Jaki Liebezeit and Burt Friedman, (who operated a lot of keyboard-related computer technology). The music they created could be described as calming, maybe Zen-like, almost certainly supernatural. Jaki L continuously shifted the beat (albeit ever so slightly, albeit ever so imperceptibly, given his minimalist drumming style) throughout the hour they were on. There was an air of relaxed yet studious attentiveness. The audience fell under the music's spell and lounged around on the cushions provided. This gig was beginning to get extremely blissed-out, the atonality of Friedman's keyboards contrasting beautifully with Liebezeit's subtle changes of tempo, and the audience certainly appreciative of it. One hour's music lesson later, the pair strolled off to rapturous applause.


After a few drinks at the bar (as my nerves were still rather shot from talking to the great man) I wandered to the front of the sparsely populated main hall. This proved to be somewhat of a mistake, as Holger's entrance was certainly not meant to be soothing. Rasping a celebratory greeting through a French horn, Czukay bestrode the stage like a seasoned pro, taking photos of the bewildered (though jubilant) audience for his website. He then proceeded to parade his sampling skills (courtesy of his famed world receiver); taking on board snatches of Can (we definitely heard snatches of Father Cannot Yell and Spoon. He could be seen mouthing all his samples in anticipation of their appearance throughout the gig, as if summoning them up from the musical depths for our delight. Other moments from his new(ish) album Linear City were thrown up in a never-ending collage of noises, beats and bizarre musical snippets. Let us make no mistake. At sixty odd Holger Czukay is most definitely out there still, skipping along the musical cutting edge with an ease rarely seen since Blondin waltzed down his tightrope.


The set finished with Der Ost ist Rot, and dancing broke out. Quite how, in the cold light of day, one can contemplate dancing to Der Ost ist Rot is beyond me; suffice to say I cut some rug, albeit a tad undercover. Back he came for an encore, despite the fact there were about forty people standing. A true genius and a shining light. Lordy, what have you stay aways missed?


Words: Richard Foster.