Marquee Moon, an album of eloquently blended punk and guitar virtuosity, once described as a fully formed masterpiece of electric poetry, thirty six years on still popularly named as one of the greatest albums ever debuted.
The album cover pictures four young punks, fresh from their CBGB’s origins in 1977. These were not the men on stage, the present band are now grey and balding but with an equal and ageless cool, here to play their classic album.
The setlist was a brilliant, sporadic mix of the classic album. Although the album is short with only an eight song long track list, both Tom Verlaine and guitarist Jimmy Rip extend each song with intricately moulded kaleidoscope guitar riffs.
The band opened with the ‘See No Evil’ a track that paired Verlaine’s sneering obtuse wordplay with harsh yet skilful instrumentation. This was an opening that gave a reminiscent and nostalgic sense of the NY bands Bowery days. Swiftly after, the famous opening guitar notes of ‘Elevation‘ sounded. This track, much like the remaining setlist, had an over riding focus on the instrumentals with only the refrain “Elevation, don’t go to my head” having vocal precedence.
Songs such as ‘Torn Curtain’, ‘Friction‘, Venus‘ and ‘Guiding Light‘ made up the remainder of the setlist, with Billy Ficca’s drums and Fred Smith’s bass sounding as lean and crisp as the original recordings. It was the first notes of ‘Marquee Moon’, the albums title track, that heard an uproar from the crowd, this ten minute long track was further extended and allowed the band to leave the stage with a bang.
The band departed for a brief 5 minute breather before returning for a truly spectacular encore. They began the half hour long encore with more recent tune ‘Persia‘, another ten minute beauty with evident Middle Eastern influences that are apparent through the mystical and enchanting sound of the guitar riffs. A truly unique and amazing song to hear live.
The bands final song came from their 1992 eponymous album, Television. ‘1888 Or So’ a chilled, Leonard Cohen like track, that made for an ending of unfaltering coolness equal to that of the band. It was a set of legendary brilliance that was rare and not to be missed, an evening that did not wish to recreate the CBGB’s madness, but to celebrate the excellence of this iconic album. Maria McFarlane, GiggingNI.com