Saturday, December 20, 2008

Contrast: 2 music reviews

Josh Groban - Awake Live

King Crimson - Guildford

Of course one of the reasons I had to do this was to get Josh Groban and King Crimson mentioned in a single spot on the InterTubes. But another would be to say that someone really can enjoy such polar-opposite music. Even if a preference lay therein. Thus to begin with the more modern music.

Under most circumstances I would never have bought "Awake Live," one of Josh's (see, I'm already sounding like a groupie) latest efforts. But on recommendation of good friends I've given this a try. I will say this is perfect music. His voice is immaculate, the orchestration is astonishing, the songs are lush, romantic and every other nice adjective you could choose. I even have a favorite tune coming from this in "February Song".

It is obvious from the DVD portion of this release that the audients are in love. They know all the words, even the foreign languages. Every song hits every high and low note, the lights are bright and shimmery, the orchestra in perfect harmony.

And yet, for all its perfection, the whole effort strikes me as overdone. Yes, Virginia, something can be too perfect. One almost longs for something that sounds out of place (well OK, the "Kashmir" solo on the DVD somewhat fits the bill, which is why I like Ms. Micarelli's effort).

Which brings me to King Crimson's Guildford concert from November 1972 (as an aside, Crimso's Pete Sinfield pretty much invented modern music lighting in 1969). Nothing sounds right. For the audients at that concert, nothing (or very, very little) had been heard before. And in the midst of it all comes a 25+ minute improvisation; not just a bunch of solos strung together, but a band making a leap of faith. This is dangerous music, and far from perfect. But it is precisely this danger (as Sid Smith called it, "wiping the slate clean" and "the shock of the new") that makes this music (OK, most of Josh's fans wouldn't call it such) so much more interesting for me.

Don't get me wrong. Mr. Groban is excellent at what he does. But, in a massively weird combination of both music presentations, one longs for some "shock." Perhaps Josh can dress in fur wings (a la Jamie Muir), run down an aisle spitting blood and swinging chains like a madman, climb the amps, sing unknown songs a capella and never even mention "You are Loved" or others. Take a chance Mr. Groban, if your music and the music industry allow it. True Josh Groban fans will love it, really they will!


MAF said...

On the Awake Live dvd, the producer didn't put on most of the funny aspects of the concert. I don't know why? For example, Josh learning to dance with Angelique Kidjo, doing Karaoke of Elton John at the piano, sitting at the edge of the stage and singing and joking with the audience, taking a hilarious phone call from a fan, etc. Josh is a very good mimic and funny guy. Going to a Josh Groban concert is a unique experience. The dvd showed Josh's beautiful voice and music and was perfect that way, but left out most of the special moments that make the concert unique.

MarkN said...

Thank you for that insight! It would have been fun to see that side of Josh.

I know that on those few times he does so, the concert announcements of King Crimson's lead guitarist, Robert Fripp, are absolutely hilarious.

Thanks again!