As most fans will know this weekend saw Manuel Gottsching's first live concert appearance of 2012 as a part of the Transmediale Festival at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of the Cultures of the World) in Berlin. This was probably a nostalgic show for Manuel, as he previously performed at the venue in November of 1979, providing the soundtrack for a fashion show titled Big Birds, which was organised by the famous designers Claudia Skoda and Tabea Blumenschein. See a clip from that amazing event here.
The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, also known as the pregnant oyster, because of its distinctive design collapsed just six months after the Big Birds show in May of 1980 and was subsequently rebuilt, reopening in 1987.
Given Gottching's previous appearance at the venue it seems fitting that he should want to resurrect Big Birds, one of his great unreleased pieces, along with other music from the same period for this performance. The Joshua Light Show, known for providing legendary psychedelic visuals at the Fillmore East and West concert venues in the late '60s and early '70s were also in attendance and presented some suitably stunning backdrops.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the concert on this occasion (for reasons that will become clear soon - nothing too dramatic) but saw much of the show via live streaming from the house of my parents, out in the countryside. This wasn't entirely without hitch and it took me a short while to get the stream to run smoothly but I got there. Thanks to a few clips posted on YouTube I've now managed to see the entire show and all I can say is that I'm extremely disappointed not to have actually been there. This really was one not to miss. By the way, in case you're wondering I took many of the pictures in this post from the live concert feed as it happened.
The concert opened with Big Birds, a piece that is just crying out for release, perhaps in its original form, possibly in its new, contemporary arrangement but ideally in a package including everything together. As with Niemand lacht Ruckwarts (please forgive the absence of umlauts there), originally recorded in the same year, this is a dense and intense, multilayered track that makes use of sequencers to provide mesmerising patterns of sound and was clearly another stepping stone in the direction of the seminal classic E2-E4.....but more of this in the book.
The lengthy Dream, from the superb Dream & Desire album came next. In stark contrast to the opener this meditative track uses relaxed and rather cosmic electronics as a backing for one of Gottsching's most gentle and graceful guitar performances.
Continuing in the same vein of lengthy late '70s pieces, and also delivered with more than a passing reference to the analog era, Lotus, from the Blackouts album rounded off the body of the main set. Offering more of the meditative mood established by Dream, this classic never fails to deliver and it should come as no surprise to read that the performance was sublime.
Now I must confess that the encore was a bit of a mystery to me. Was this a radical reworking of an earlier recording, another extract from Big Birds or a new piece? Perhaps all will be revealed in due course.....
Whatever the origins of this techno-infused piece, which concluded with a guitar work out, it was a spectacular way to finish a great show. I'm going to say it again: I wish I was there...but in a few weeks time you will know why I wasn't!
Regarding the book I came back to Newcastle late this afternoon to find a couple of very exciting e-mails in my inbox. The project just keeps on growing with more and more contributions from important figures in the Manuel Gottsching story. I will update the blog with more information about this very soon.
In the meantime I hope you enjoy these pictures from Saturday's show. If you were there I'm very jealous of you indeed and if you weren't you'll probably be joining me in hoping for a CD or DVD release and maybe even the whole of Big Birds at some point in the not too distant future.....or should I say the deep distance?