By: Eamon Foley
Blonde Redhead :: 01.19.08 :: Terminal 5 :: New York, NY
In a homecoming gig, Blonde Redhead played to a sold out Terminal 5, New York City's newest venue, where they displayed character and a touch of class. Singer Kazu Makino shimmied her Elvis hips around the stage, while twin brothers Simone and Amedeo Pace brought Euro style and no shortage of movement to the proceedings.
Seated at her keyboards or slapping her guitar, an air of sexiness emanated from Makino. There was a distinct lack of fan interaction but the band made amends by projecting their energy through the room. Wielding his guitar like a sledgehammer, Amedeo was focused on the task and barely sent a glance towards the crowd. More than once he flailed around, dropped to his knees and wound up lying on the stage. Drummer Simone played like a jazz musician - the brothers' roots lie in Boston's jazz scene - cool and collected yet playing with the fastest, most flexible hands I've seen in a long time.
What banter there was came from Makino, who was drowned out by the venue's horrible sound system. Containing as much charm as an abattoir, Terminal 5 was devoid of soul. Maybe it needs time to bed down and for the walls to soak up the sweat and beer of classic gigs, but for now work needs to be done on the basics. A heavy security presence and surly staff ruined the vibe for this writer, and decent vantage points were hard to come by.
Unlike the venue, the music was good. It's nice to see a favorite band live, playing favorite songs. Sometimes it's great to come across an unknown quantity that impresses and surprises. But, best of all is when a band you know varies their act and reworks their hits. There's something about Blonde Redhead's latest album, 23, that draws me back regularly, and live they mixed it up enough to keep me interested. The enthusiastic crowd lapped up the funky pop vibe and appreciated the extended jams. They turned "Silently" from a four-minute pop ditty into a long spar with left-right, one-two combos between Makino and Amedeo, finishing with an extended instrumental where the keys replaced her vocals. Meanwhile, Simone played the role of trainer in the corner, egging them on. Frequent distortion and dub were the snap and crackle to the pop of "23." Simone's outstanding efforts were the salt in the mix, while Makino's soft vocals were the sugar, sweet and eerie contrasting greatly with the onstage energy.
|Kazu Makino by Kristie Hanley|
They've been around long enough to polish their act, and they've been through enough to do it with nonchalance and appealing cockiness. Long delays spent tweaking equipment were annoying. Maybe that was due to their being self-absorbed or more likely trying to adapt to the venue's poor acoustics. If at times they didn't quite hit the spot - a less than successful foray into "I'm Taking Out My Euro Trash (I Still Get My Rocks Off)" being one example - they at least put on a show with plenty of movement and energy that was visually pleasing.
Check out JamBaseTV's exclusive interview with Blonde Redhead.
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