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March 23, 1985 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-03-23

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Saturday, March 23, 1985 Page 9

Dogs whip Brits in own mode

By Dennis Harvey
B oy, it's a good thing I'm clever and
fair-minded enough not to let my
opinions turn into prejudices because of
isolated stereo-typical-contrast in-
cidents, if you know what I mean.
Because if an evening was conducive to
confirming a currently popular line of
critical oversimplification, it was Wed-
nesday, when Depeche Mode played for
the fashion crowd at the Royal Oak
Music Theatre and the Dogmatics
played for the pogo-'n-frug set a bit
later at Joe's Star Lounge. The
stereotypical contrast on hand was the
old "Ugh, all British bands are
yelping packs of Dippity-Do-depen-
dent synth-wimps who wouldn't
know a guitar riff if 'You Really
Got Me'fell on their delicate heads,
but oooh thank god there are all
these cool, gritty integrity-crammed
back-to-beer-and-basics new bands
like the Replacements, R.E.M. etc.
to make me proud to be an
American again... "routine. And you
can just follow the easy pattern and
guess Wednesday night's final score:
the homegrown boys were unpreten-
tiously big fun and the imports were
pretentiously not much. Don't misun-
derstand; I am not one of those people
who think (usually very loudly) that the
synthesizer was the worst thing to hap-
pen to music since Hammond organs
hit the living room.
After starting out as one of the most
featherweight of all the featherweight
early synth bands, Depeche Mode has
developed into one of (to my mind) the
Big Three - the three techno pop bands
who've put out music of (as one of them
has used as their trademark) quality
and distinction. The only one of the
bunch who have shyed away

entirely from using occasional electric
and acoustic instruments, Depeche
Mode forsakes the nervous-breakdown-
with-a-beat stance of The The and the
vaguely socialist champagne inter-
nationalism of Heaven 17, opting in-
stead for the driving plinks and clunks
of industrialism. Predictably fuzzy
social critics, Depeche Mode doesn't
really say much more than "Big
business is scary" and "War is dumb"
and other rather too well-tested thesis
statements of flyweight liberalism. But
the rhythmic force and general melodic
invention of their music gives them at
least the feel of being a fairly intelligent
band; they seem to be expressing a
pretty genuine frustrated bewilder-
ment at the grey English factory-town
lives the band members have left
behind.
The songs held up very well at Royal
Oak, the musicianship well enough - at
times almost too well, in that ultimately
uninteresting Just Like The Record
manner. The arrangements of songs
were often identical to their LP ver-
sions, and since, vocalist aside, the
band is just three guys stationed behind
keyboards and programmers, there
wasn't really any trace of the standard
fun of seeing a band live, i.e. being able
to see just where those sounds come
from..(It could have all been on tape,
for all anyone knew or cared.)
As a result the visual focus had to
shift to the moderately elaborate
lighting/side/set effects and to, unfor-
tunately, lead singer Fletcher. This guy
has a warm, strong bass/tenor that
holds up well in concert, but as a per-
sonality... look out, man, he's a living,
flouncing disco-queen nightmare. While
the other band members offer no help,
and indeed appear to be a bit under-
standably abashed, Fletcher prances
about like Freddie Mercury in leather
pants and a cut-off-at-the-ribs tank top,

constantly urging us on with teeth-
clenching exhortations of "YAHI" and,
er, dancing most disagreeably. A'
disastrous centerpiece for any band,
and one particularly devastating for
Depeche Mode, since as a British syn-
thpop boy band they're already hard-
pressed to earn any serious musical
credibility.
Despite impressive four-part har-
monies and impeccable if
unimaginative versions of many of
their worthy hits, Wednesday's concert
fought a losing battle against creeping,
silliness. Even the most elaborately
groomed 14-year-olds were overheard
satirically mincing "YAH !" on the way
out, and when you lose out with the
suburban teens, there's no hope left.
There's nothing but hope and more
hope for the Dogmatics, four Bostonian
tots with guitars and a Bam-Bam set,
whose second set at Joe's was just the
sort of raucous noise that legendary
garage bands are made of. A friend,
bestowing his ultimate statement of
approval, sighed "They're an East
Coast version of the Replacements,"
which may be a bit of an overstatement
at this point but it's not far from the
mark.
If they're anywhere near as young as

they look, they ought to be playing
video arcades instead of bars for
grown-ups, yet they already seem to
have the full repetoire of prehistoric
bar-band essentials. Just when you
thought it might not be really necessary
to hear "Who'll Stop the Rain?", "Do
You Wanna Dance?" and, oh yes,
"Louie Louie" again (I'll confess
disappointment at the exclusion of
"Hey Joe," but maybe that was- in the
first set), here comes a band that
tmakes them very exciting. As the
number of people tossing themselves
around the dance floor proved. Plus
throbbing originals like "Hardcore
Rules" and "Good-Looking Girls"
prove these kids have their hearts in
just the right places for classic
garagedom - in their pants. They've
got humor, they've got skill, they've got
the look (burnouts-raid-junior-high-
girl's-slumber-party-with-guitars), and
they've got new short LP called Thayer
St. on Homestead Records.
Polevaulting to the frontline of the dir-
tboy rock revival, the Dogmatics are a
band to catch while they're young and
reckless, before anything bad like
parental college pressure or major
label contracts set in.

Photo by Jeffrey L. Hayner
Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters plays six string acoustic guitar during his
spectacular concert at Joe Louis Tuesday night. Although his solo debut
received little praise, his concert rendition of the LP was highly acclaimed.
Stormy Waters

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By David Yount
T he stage show for Tuesday's
concert was everything I expec-
ted from Roger Water. He had
three screens which spanned the
width of Joe Louis and showed film
for more than half the entire three-
hour program. In addition to the
usual powerful speakers facing the
audience;' speakers were aimed at
the audience midway into the crowd,
from above and from both sides.
The quadraphonic sound was
amazing. Most notably, there were
fantastic thunder roars on "4:41
a.m.", passing cars and trucks on
"4:47 a.m." from the second half of
the show, the familiar helicopter on
"Another Brick in the Wall", and
clinking tnoney on "Money" from
the first half of the show.
iThe first half was a selection of
tunes from Roger's work with Pink
Floyd. It began with a satisfying
rendition of "Welcome to the
.Machine", with animated imagery
on the center of the three screens.
He performed "Have a Cigar",
"Wish You Were Here", and "Pigs
on the Wing", whereupon he played
a short medley (unannounced in the
program) of songs from The Final
Cut album. From these, he and his
band went right into a refreshing
version of "The Gunner's Dream".
The tunes from The Final Cut
(among others) were done with an
electric-acoustic guitar which came
out exceptionally clear on their
quadraphonic speakers.
During intermission, the house
lights were brought up for awhile,

and then dimmed as a TV-like cur-
tain (the size of one screen) came
down, producing a quasi-living room
with the other two screens. A film
was shown on the TV that resembled
Shane which was interrupted by ai
huge mind-blowing explosion which,
needless to say, caught the audien-
ce's attention for the start of the
second half of the show.
The second half of the show was a
straight run-through of Roger's solo
album, The Pros and Cons of Hitch
Hiking. Imagery was quite
memorable: a slot machine for
"4:30 a.m.", 'Arabs' with chain
saws and knives during "4:37 a.m.",
and a character/mascot for his con-
cert presentation called Reg... or is
it Rog?' that quoted some of the lines
in animation from the album.
The musicians on the whole were
excellent, with the possible excep-
tion of Jay Stapley, the lead guitarist
who admittedly had some big shoes
to fill in David Gilmour, guitarist for
Pink Floyd, and Eric Clapton, who
performed on Roger's solo album
and tour in 1984.
The encore was "Brain Damage"
and "Eclipse" from Dark Side of the
Moon, with a mental hospital being
blown up, and the sun being eclipsed
by the moon, respectively, as the
song's visual backup. The show
culminated with Roger's words:
"Bless you - you've been very nice
- good night!",
The concert was unforgettably
spectacular, excellently presented
and well worth the ticket price.
Roger, with his terrific imagery,
props, and sound effects definitely
lived up to his reputation of putting
on an extravagant show.

"

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Features thru 4/5/85

Folk with a heart

By Andy Weine

I COULD BEGIN to write about
Ferron, who will play at the Ark
Saturday night, but why not let some
others tell it?
Walking up to the counter at P.J.'s
Records, the observant music con-
noisseur can find Ferron's latest album
taped to the board, with these commen-
ts scribbled on it by chronic music
fanatic Marc Taras: "This is visionary
spell-singing, gut-wrenching, gritty
voiced, splendiferous, god(dess)hood
music!" And also, from WCBN DJ Art
Durkee: "Listening to side two by can-
dlelight, I felt my ears and head open
up genuinely, for maybe the first time
this year..." Of Ferron's last Ann Arbor
appearance, Nancy Aranoff said to me,
"People were crying in the audience,
just listening to her. It was just
beautiful."
I listened and listened and listened to
her latest album, Shadows on a Dime,
and her debut album, Testimonial. No
other album in my meager collection
got as much spin time. In short, I
became a convert.
A Canadian singer, Ferron takes the
spotlight in folk music as a spirited
musician to stir the soul. Her lyrics are
wholesome poetry. Her voice, too, is
distinctive: not pretty grittily earthy
and naturally raw like Dylan's.
In fact, some describe her as a sort of
female Dylan, which is both a com-

pliment and'a constraint: a compliment
because to be called a figure on Dylan's
pioneering level is flattering and just
what these too-slick eighties need, but a
restraint because she is no female flip-
side of anyone. Her style, voice, and
songs-though attuned to women's
music like that of Holly Near and Chris
Williamson-are all her own and can
resonate soulful chords in anyone,
folkster or pop-fan, woman or man.
Call it a cop-out, but this is a singer
for whom words may not do justice.
Hearing, most likely, will lead to
believing. Ferron will play two shows;
advance tickets are available at Earth
Wisdom Music and Herb David's
Guitar Studio.

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Incl.... BEST PICTURE
SAM WATERSON THE KILLING "
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