Stick Men started as a solo project from Tony Levin on Chapman Stick and during the years he formed a stable (touring) band with Pat Mastelotto on drums and Markus Reuter on Touch Guitar. Tony and Pat are also playing in King Crimson which also recently toured.
First thing I noticed when I was in the venue that not many people attended the gig, the room was filled half-full, which made me a bit glum because this band is worth to watch live. I saw the band perform in the Boerderij back in 2012 and there were more people back then. I think not many people know what to expect from this band. Well, expect one of the greatest live gigs, because these guys are amazing. They are talented and experienced musicians and that is worth the watch! The band not only plays songs from Stick Men albums, but also King Crimson covers and songs from other artists.
Markus was the first one who came on stage. He gave away some very nice ambient like sounds on his Touch Guitar. A few minutes later Pat and Tony entered the stage and they started with the beautiful track Hide The Trees, followed by Smudge. After Smudge Tony introduced the band to the audience. Pat told the audience that he and Tony played together for more than 20 years, mostly together in the band King Crimson. After the short speech they played the King Crimson track VROOOM VROOOM.
After playing the powerful track Horatio Markus spoke to the audience and told them that the Boerderij is the best European venue he ever played. He continued to speak and talked about his personal hero Mike Oldfield. He went to see a concert of Mike Oldfield back in 1982 when he was still a child and since then he became a big fan. As a tribute to Mike Oldfield they played Oldfield’s song Mirage. They played it fantastic, it shows that they are a wonderful band. After playing Mirage Markus spoke to the audience again. He told the audience they had two interviews with two ‘lovely’ ladies (one of them was me, you can listen to the interview here) and he was surprised by one of the questions I asked during my interview. The question “What is the most difficult song to play live?”, and told the audience that the answer was Concussion, which they started to play. I thanked Markus with a loud “Thank you” while I was in the middle of the audience, busy taking pictures of the band. Concussion is indeed a very tough track but the audience loved it. I noticed that there were at least two guys were going berserk (dancing and even headbanging) during most of the tracks that were played. I wish I had the time to join them, but I was too busy taking pictures, listening to the awesome music and afraid I would lose my camera if I would let myself go with dancing on the music.
When the band finished the track Concussion Pat spoke to the audience. He told he was asked by Tony to play on his solo album called Stick Man, which was released back in 2007. They played the track Slow Glide. Halfway through the song Tony grabbed a bow and played with the bow on his Chapman Stick. When they finished the song Tony told the audience that they were going to play another King Crimson track called Sartori In Tangier, because it’s in the same key as Slow Glide.
Markus announced that they were going to play an improvisational track called Open Part III. When they improvise it is magic. Especially Markus enjoys it when he has room to improvise and give beautiful solos on his Touch Guitar.
Tony told the audience jokingly that he tries to sing the song Crack In The Sky in different languages, but this time he sang it in English. The last song before they supposed left the stage was Breathless. Tony told the audience that Breathless isn’t a King Crimson song but a song from Robert Fripp’s solo album Exposure.
The band didn’t leave the stage after they played Breathless. They did make a bow and thanked the audience but Tony told the audience that they have to ‘pretend’ they left the stage and came back. When the audience calmed down they played the track Soup, which is my favourite track from the band. It’s a very funny and catchy song and they played it fantastic. They didn’t play King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part II while it supposed to be the last song on the playlist. When they finished the track Soup Markus gestured to the band to stop playing so they did. The band thanked the audience again and told that there would be signing and photo sessions at the merchandise stand. They made a joke about the fact that too many bands immediately leave the venue when the show is over. The audience really enjoyed the performance and gave away an extra cheer.
If you like experimental music and artists that can both perform songs and improvise, then you should see this band! I’m sure they will tour again soon, so be there!
Stick Men are:
Tony Levin – Chapman Stick
Pat Mastelotto – Drums & Percussion
Markus Reuter – Touch Guitar
Hide The Trees
VROOOM VROOOM (King Crimson Cover)
Mirage (Mike Oldfield Cover)
Slow Glide (Tony Levin Song)
Sartori In Tangier (King Crimson Cover)
Open Part III
Nude Ascending Staircase
Industry (King Crimson Cover)
Crack The Sky
Breathless (Robert Fripp Cover)
You can also read my concert review on Background Magazine:
Me with the band! 😀
And an extra bonus picture, Stefan Huth was giving away Touch Guitar demonstrations right before the gig!
All photos made by me (except the last one of course).