Do you every have those moments where you need to be pinched to be sure you’re awake and that what you’re experiencing is real? We all do, right? This isn’t just me?
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of The Adrian Belew Power Trio at Terminal West at King Plow Arts Center in Atlanta. For 2014, this was my *THAT* show. I was in line online to buy tickets the minute they went on sale and waited for weeks for the date to come.
Terminal West is a terrific venue. It’s not too big, and not too small, and the staff is absolutely incredible. It’s located in the King Plow Arts Center in midtown Atlanta is part of a renovated steel mill. The venue is a General Admission venue, which means that it’s Standing Room Only. There are a few (maybe 6) tables downstairs and a few bar stools scattered through the venue. Better grab those quick though, because they go fast!
The show opened with a set from Saul Zonana. This wasn’t an acoustic act, but a solo electronic performance featuring riffs recorded to loopers which Saul set up and then performed over. It was fun and artsy and quite enjoyable. After learning a little more about Saul, it was intriguing to find that he’s performed more than 2,000 shows worldwide as both a solo performer or with other groups like Crash Test Dummies and Ace Frehley’s solo work and that many of his songs have been heard on television and movies.
Adrian Belew is a musical mastermind and he was at the top of his game. This was a man who was having fun on stage doing what he loves doing and it really showed through. You didn’t have to be a long-time Belew fan to notice that this trio has some inside jokes that carry over to the stage. There were more than a couple occurrences of “musical messing with” one another on-stage that resulted in a lot of laughs. Mr. Belew is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and so much more. His musical career has spanned more than three decades, and he’s released more than 20 solo albums while also collaborating with some of the most innovative musicians in the world, such as Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails, and Paul Simon, as well as a long-time stint as the front man, guitarist and singer for King Crimson.
Drummer Tobias Ralph is new to the ADPT, replacing Eric Slick, but he’s certainly not new to drumming. The man is a drum god who’s been playing since the age of 4, and was considered a prodigy. Mr. Ralph studied at Berklee College of Music and was the first recipient of the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Award. He has performed on Broadway, been in touring Broadway productions, and was featured in the prestigious Montreal Drum Fest. His timing was incredible and he had a presence all his own. To be noticeable on a stage with Adrian Belew is no small feat, but Tobias pulled it off.
Also standing out on-stage was bass phenom, Julie Slick. As one of the original “School of Rock” students in New York, Julie has had a career that I’ve followed for years. Her music is interesting, driven, thought-provoking, and inspiring. In person – she delivers. She has mad bassist skills and delivered one of the best performances I’ve ever seen live. There is a musical passion that boils between her uncontrollable curls and mismatched sneakers, launches from her fingertips to the rest of the world through a combination of Lakland basses, Aguilar amplification and GK speakers, and transports the audience to a place they don’t imagine exists until they’re already there. I can’t speak for the rest of the crowd, but I’m pretty sure there were unicorn herds frolicking in hot pink meadows under a violet sun. Whether it’s traditional finger plucking, slap and pop, or playing with a pick, her technique is spectacular and the sound she can get from her instruments is incredible.
The artists came out, signed autographs, and posed for photos with everyone who asked after the show. I got to hang for a while afterward to chat and was thoroughly impressed. These are some of the nicest, kindest, most humble people I’ve met and I had an evening that I will treasure for years.