|Tim Christensen - Amsterdam, Melkweg - 21st May 2012|
|Written by Russ P|
|Saturday, 02 June 2012 04:15|
Whilst I hope that I am in fact just over half way through my life here on Earth, of late I've been acting out on an ad hoc bucket list. And Tim Christensen is on my bucket list as he has been on my turntable...almost constantly of late. 'Superior' was the album that sucked me in with its collision of The Beatles and Crowded House style songs and melodies. Such was my infatuation with 'Superior' that initially I wrote off his first two solo albums as just 'OK'. But slowly they too have given up their treasures. Which all leads up to me being here in the Netherlands.
Yesterday I was in Utrecht trying to kill too many birds with one stone and found myself with a scheduling clash that put my gig plans in peril. I was late and trying to find the out of town venue - Tivoli de Helling - on foot, when out of the blue the nicest Dutch girl spontaneously stops and gives me a backie on her bike. Anyone out there believe in a benign and caring universe? I arrive too late to claim my photo pass but I don't care. Because is it again coincidence that I walk in on the band playing 'Superior' - the song that started it all for me.
So tonight in Amsterdam I'm early. I have my photo pass and I'm curious as to how many songs and how much of the set I missed last night. As it turns out it was only 3 songs.
Opener 'The Damn Crystals' is a photographer's dream. Not because of the lighting, which isn't great, but because it's a progressive 10 minute pop song that's like 3 songs rolled into 1, which means more shooting time for me during the 3 song photographer's allotment. Following up Tim delves into his solo back catalogue for the lively and storming 'Jump The Gun' followed by another track from last year's 'Tim Christensen And The Damn Crystals' album called 'Far Beyond Driven'. Since that album was a band endeavour rather than Tim's more usual autonomous efforts the band end up devoting nearly half the set to it at various points throughout the night. The band, particularly the rhythm section of Søren Koch on bass and Jesper Lind on drums, are impressive. The drums and huge kick drum are elemental giving a Bonham-esque driven rock sound to the songs and, together with Koch's Rickenbacker, provide a solid backbone. They are the perfect foil for Tim's pretty pop melodies which at first listen sound tame but later turn into something meaner through discordant and edgy instrumentation.
Tim is in fine voice and one suspects that this is the perfectionist written about in his song 'Superior'. There are no set lists on the stage floor. The band may indeed be performing to a plan but they don't always stick to the plan as we see later in the set.
Mid-set Tim is pinned between spotlights where he plays 'Never Be One Until We're Two' solo and acoustic. And such is the strength of Tim's songs that hidden track 'How Far You Go' from the 'Honeyburst' album is the other song given pride of place in set. With the band back on stage the beat is king with the most Bonham of Bonham-esque rhythms - 'Happy Ever After' followed by the double-timing and crowd rousing 'Surprise Me'.
'Get The Fuck Out Of My Mind' is stretched out with some guitar duelling with Lars Skjaerbaek (Tim wins the battle - bloody perfectionist!) and the song segues into the first new surprise of the night: 'Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City' which then transmogrifies into a hard-hitting 'Helter Skelter'-ish interpretation of 'Whispering At The Top Of My Lungs' only Tim is screaming not whispering. Is this Tim's take on Cheap Trick's 'Hello There' / 'Goodnight'?
The band close with a Dizzy Miss Lizzy song - '11:07 PM' - the time that John Lennon died - and the band bow out.
They return for 'Surfacing The Surface', 'All Them Losers' and cross guitars again for the full version of 'Whispering At The Top Of My Lungs'.
And that's that.
But Tim looks around at his bandmates and says enticingly: "Let's Do It." He announces that it's his hero's 70th birthday coming up. I'm aware that Tim has an upcoming celebration gig in Copenhagen where he's performing McCartney's 'Ram' album from beginning to end. So what are we getting here?
Christoffer Møller strikes up the familiar chords to 'Live And Let Die'. Broad smiles everywhere. I can't believe my luck. The band have a ball with it. Lars and Søren join voices on one mic for the high harmonies, which provides much mirth between them. The drama is intensified by bright white strobes, which stay up as the band takes their final bow.
I would say that I could die happy now. But I won't go that far. I've still got a little bit of living left to do...and some more of my bucket list to get through.
Photos courtesy of Russell Prothero http://www.russellprothero.co.uk/