Tangerine Dream @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 23 May 2014

6.30pm; London, after the rain, and long queues are trailing around the Shepherds Bush Empire to catch Tangerine Dream on their only UK date (a Sell Out) for their “Phaedra Farewell Tour”, which has already taken in Miami, Mexico, Honduras and Paris (last night) and will take in Netherlands, Germany and Poland and finish in Italy on 9th June in Turin.

The show, according to the statement on their website is not a goodbye, but a move away from touring schedules in favour of more one-off performances:

“First of all, some words about the term “FAREWELL”: True is that this tour, which will be extended to the US and other territories will be the last live concerts in a row in TD’s history. But of course there will be single events the time after. All speculation about Edgar’s retirement are totally wrong. It’s more the business side and the experience the band had with their last touring activities in 2010 and 2012. More details will be given through the known networks.”
Tangerine Dream (a seven time Grammy nominated band) formed in 1967 in Germany and was founded by Edgar Froese, who is the only member of the original line-up remaining with the band today. Over the years, many artists have joined or collaborated with the band who have gone on to have significant success in their own right.

The current line-up is;

Edgar Froese: Keyboards, Electronic and Acoustic Guitar (1967)
Thorsten Quaeschning: Keyboards & Rhythm Guitar (2005)
Linda Spa: Saxophone, Flute, Keyboards & Body Tambura (1992)
Iris Camaa: V-Drums & Percussion (2001)
Hoshiko Yamane: Acoustic & Electronic Violin Cello, c-voice (2011)

Previous members include:

Klaus Schulze: Drums, Percussion (1969–1970)
Christopher Franke: Keyboards, Drums (1970–1987)
Steve Schroyder: Keyboards, Vocals (1970-1971)
Peter Baumann: Keyboards (1971–1975, 1975-1977)
Michael Hoenig: Keyboards (1975)
Klaus Kruger: Drums, Percussion (1978–1979)

Tangerine Dream’s musical output over the last 47 years is nothing short of incredible;

Over 65 single releases
Over 100 album releases, plus over 70 compilations
Over 30 Movie Soundtracks since 1977

Tangerine Dream have divided their releases into “Era’s” dependant upon their record label at the time. Originally signed to the “Ohr” record label (their logo was a pink ear) hence this initial period of TD history labelled as the “Pink Years” and covered the period 1969-1973 releasing their first 4 albums (Electronic Meditation, Alpha Centauri, Zeit and Atem) during this time.

A fledgling Richard Branson label called Virgin who signed them in 1973 and released “Phaedra” (now celebrating just over 40 years since release) defined the next Era with a further dozen albums culminating with “Hyperborea” in 1983. Signing to Jive Records in 1983 (Jive’s logo being blue) the Blue Years started with the release of “Poland” in 1983, and ended five years later with “Live Miles”

Former member Peter Baumann established his own “Private Music Label” on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles which put out 3 albums from 1988 until signing for Miramar in Seattle in 1991. In 1996, Froese set up his own label: ”TDI” which released over 30 albums and was renamed “Eastgate” in 2005 and another 30 odd albums have been released to date.

This immense volume of work spans Prog, Electronic, Ambient, new age, Krautrock dance to choose from must be a mixed blessing, how to choose what to play, what not to play, can you remember it? If you could play everything back to back you would have well over a week’s listening to choose from. Tonights two-hour and 40 minute set will only offer a small insight into the wider catalogue. At a price of £42.50 for a ticket, its not priced too high, for a one-off event, but also a free album download is also given to each member of the audience (as long as you have collected the flyer from the mercy stand) by way of an offer code on the Tangerine Dream website.. extremely generous.
Tonight’s show is being recorded, presumably for a DVD release, so there are cameras capturing the pre-show action in and around the venue. This also impacts upon my photography, as I am restricted to the two main aisles and no nearer the stage than three rows back, to avoid getting in shot.

The show is a two-setter, with an hour from 8.00pm until 9.00pm, a twenty minute interlude and then on until around 11.00. The set comprises the old and the new in a rich mix of electronic music fleshed out with Guitars, Violin, Cello, Sax, Flute and a parley of Percussion, but there is no vocalist in Tangerine Dream.

Froese and Quaeschning are surrounded by keyboards and banks of equipment, with two large monitors left and right of stage showing digital reconstructions of vintage synths including the Prophet V (and running on Windows too??). The stage set is backed with a large net like fabric upon which graphics, fractals, cityscapes, skylines and universes are projected during the show. Each time Froese takes off his leather hat to strap on his guitar he gets a cheer from the audience.

The sound in the Empire is crisp and beautifully clear and none of the subtlety of the music is lost. There is no dialogue between tracks with the audience, whilst Spa and Camaa are clearly enjoying the show, Froese and Quaeschning occasionally smile and briefly acknowledge the audience.

Tangerine Dream’s set takes us around the universe on Starship Tangerine Dream via “Hermaphrodite” (from Finnegan’s Wake), “Hyper Sphinx” (from “Booster”), “Grind” (from the soundtrack to “The Sorcerer”) and a band dedication to one of their long time fans who has passed away;

Projected on screen are the words “There is no death, there is just a change of a universal address. IN MEMORIAM TIM PULLEN” during which Camaa dons black feathered wings, a white mask and gracefully dances at the front of stage with Yamane accompanying on Cello as tribute.
For an encore the band return to stage to rapturous applause and shouts of “Stratosfear” and “You’re our hero” to finish the set with a couple of tracks including “Phaedra”. At the close the band line up on stage, Froese, microphone in hand, addresses the audience, but his voice is frail and weak and very difficult for me to hear over the crowd; and with a “Thank You for having us” the band leave stage.

Tonight’s show has been a virtuoso performance by Tangerine Dream, but clearly the rigours of a major touring schedule must be a concern for Froese, given his age and apparent frailty on stage and perhaps one-off shows are the way forward. Whatever the band decide, if a return visit to the UK is made, Tangerine Dream are well worth every penny and I shall be there.

Review and Photos: Ken Harrison

Set One
1. Odd Welcome  (Kafka - The Castle)
2. Burning The Bad Seal (Gta 5)
3. The Midnight Trail (Orange Odyssey, The Independant Years)
4. Sorcerer Theme (Sorcerer 2014)
5. Twilight In Abidjan (One Night In Africa)
6. Hermaphrodite (Finnegans Wake, Lost In Strings)
7. Sleeping Watches Snoring In Silence (Booster)
8. Song Of The Whale (Zeitgeist Concert, Live At Admiralspalast Berlin)
9. Horizon (Tangines Scales, Live At Admiralspalast Berlin)
10. Hyper Sphinx (Booster, London Astoria Club Concert 2007)
Set Two
1. Josephine The Mouse Singer (Josephine The Mouse Singer)
2. Logos (Zeitgeist Concert, The Gate Of Saturn)
3. Alchemy Of The Heart (Booster Iv, Live In Budapest)
4. Grind (Sorcerer 2014)
5. Warsaw In The Sun (Live At Admiralspalast Berlin, Zeitgeist Concert)
6. Oriental Haze (Live At Admiralspalast Berlin)
7. Three Bikes In The Sky (Cruise To Destiny, Lost In Strings)
8. Girl On The Stairs (One Night In Space, Live At Admiralspalast Berlin)
9. Marmontel Riding On A Clef (The Island Of The Fay, Starmus)
10. Trauma (Autumn In Hiroshima, Starmus)
Encores: Phaedra (New Version, Phaedra 2005), The Silver Boots Of Bartlett Green (The Angel Of The West Window, Booster V), Dolphin Dance (The Gate Of Saturn, Live At Admiralspalast), Arcangelo Corelli's La Folia (Josephine The Mouse Singer), Darkness Veiling The Night (The Island Of The Fay, Knights In Asheville), Streethawk (The London Eye Concert, One Night In Space)