20 years later, Tangerine Dream returns in fine form
House of Blues, Boston, July 6, 2012
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
Edgar Froese, the gray-haired, pony-tailed last remnant of the original Tangerine Dream, went the entire show without talking - well, until the very end actually when the band was done. After introducing his stage mates and thanking the crowd for coming, he said, "hopefully, next time it won't be another 20 years."
While it had been 20 years since the German space rock pioneers, who influenced a generation of others, came to Boston you wouldn't know it from this show.
TD opened the U.S. part of its tour after a few shows in Canada with a 2-set, 3-hour extravaganza featuring Froese and Thorsten Quaeschning on keyboards, Linda Spa on wind instruments and keyboards, Hoshiko Yamane on cello and violin, Bernhard Beibl on guitar and Iris Camaa on percussion. Gone are the days with three members of TD sitting behind huge, monstrous amounts of keyboards to play the music.
The typical TD song lasted about eight minutes with lots of repetition within the song. While that could have gotten very monotonous, doing so, however, enabled the band to establish momentum time and time again. Sometimes it was the keyboards that turned the trick. Beibl added a tremendous of steely sonics powering the songs further along.
Fortunately , there was enough in each song to grab and hold onto melody wise, resulting in songs that were, in fact, catchy. It would be easy to dismiss TD as aural wallpaper, but that would be a false charge.
And the songs were all instrumentals. Well, except during the encore when Quaeschning sang The Doors' Crystal Ship. It felt almost weird to hear anyone talking after just about three hours, but TD gave a different spin on the song.
While the opening set before a paltry crowd of about 300 people was solid with a few exceptions due to meanderings, the second set, starting with Froese solo on piano on Ricochet to the closing regular set song Stratosfear, the music was stellar with the band kicking into full gear with lots of excellent guitar licks from Beibl, Spa on flute and sax in particular, and Yamane's violin.
What could have contributed to a bit less visually static presentation would have been for band members to engage the crowd more. That happened a few times when Spa ventured from the back of the stage to the very front to play clarinet and saxophone. So did percussionist Camaa. More of that would have been better.
Then again, the visuals on the backing screen flowed very well to the music. There were various moving objects, such as Saturn, balls, waves at the beach and more to mesh with the sounds created onstage.
One suspects that Froese did not talk because he did not want to interrupt the flow of the music. In fact, the music typically segued from one song right into another with no break of music. Sometimes, the only way to know the song had ended was when fans clapped.
Tangerine Dream showed that there is no reason not to wait for another two decades before returning to Boston. But if they did, that would be a pretty amazing feat because Froese would be 88. TD itself may be 45 years old, but it sure didn't sound it.