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Tom Tom Club – Live at The Jazz Café 15/07/11

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Tom Tom Club – Live at The Jazz Café 15/07/11

Posted on 17 July 2011 by Dorian

First off, a confession, I didn’t have very high hopes for this gig. I love the first Tom Tom Club album, and seeing any of my Talking Heads heroes live is worth an outing, but I wasn’t convinced it would be a great gig. The band haven’t released many great albums, the line-up is entirely different from the first album (Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth the obvious exceptions) and I expected a rather indifferent show. The good news is that what I saw was a very well planned set, played really well, that was one of the most enjoyable I’ve seen in years.

Tom Tom Club

The band kick things off with ‘Who Feelin’ It’ from 2000’s The Good The Bad And The Funky and the energy of the band and crowd alike create the feeling of being at a very enjoyable party from the outset. The set draws on the bands best songs from across their career and the energy levels don’t drop for one second.

The band, featuring a DJ complete with a BAD baseball cap, are excellent and add some real flair and energy to Frantz and Weymouth’s famously steady rhythm section. The utility player (keyboard and percussion) was particularly excellent and manages to achieve what several players did on the original recordings.

Tom Tom Club

The big hits from the debut album are saved to late in the set with Genius of Love unsurprisingly getting the biggest cheer of the night. It is a real thrill to hear a song this familiar and influential played by the band that created it, and the party atmosphere reaches its peak. After a, slightly ill-judged, take on ‘I Believe In Miracles’ the band play the other big single from their debut ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ and finish the set to rapturous cheers and applause.

The inevitable encore is the bands master-stroke as they choose to play two Talking Heads tracks to the excitable crowd. They pick two songs from their former band, and wisely choose the songs that will highlight the lack of David Byrne the least. First is a take on Al Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’, sung here by the band’s back-up vocalist, a song that fits the party atmosphere to a tee. The final song of the evening is ‘Psycho Killer’, famously played solo by Byrne in Stop Making sense. However, hearing Tina Weymouth play the simple pulsing opening bass line, with her husband providing the distinctive drums, is pretty magical for a Talking Heads fan and rounds the evening off perfectly.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Tom Tom Club

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Tom Tom Club

Posted on 22 June 2011 by Dorian

In the middle of Stop Making Sense David Byrne leaves the stage to put on his famously big suit, during this period the band on stage morphs into Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth’s side project Tom Tom Club. It is a part of the film that I’ve always liked (although I know those that didn’t), sure the bit where Franz starts rapping about “James Brown” makes me squirm a little but I loved the catchy riffs and cute vocals.

I’d never claim that Franz and Weymouth were the key to Talking Heads (Byrne is clearly the genius of the group) but they were a big part of the sound and the debut Tom Tom Club album was on my stereo as much as My Life In the Bush of Ghosts when I first picked it up.

Tom Tom Club

Tom Tom Club in 2011

That debut album is a still a favourite, ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ being the most worn out track on the 2009 reissue, and stands-up as a lesser classic of the 1980s. It is a surprise to look back and see just how influential, sampled and copied ‘Genius Of Love’ was (and still is). In 1981 it was already being used by the hip hop community as this track (below)  by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five shows, and many other hip hop acts have used the beat or the core riffs over the years.

In the mid 1990s Mariah Carey used the song pretty much wholesale for her hit ‘Fantasy’, a song where the original band members (including King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew) get the writing credit.

I’m excited to be seeing the band play this July as part of their 30th anniversary tour. I haven’t purchased any of their albums since ‘Close to the Bone’ in 1983, and they have been patchy, if fun, records. But as a long time Talking Heads fanatic the chance to see these two members of the band is an opportunity I don’t want to miss. And the opportunity to hear their classic early singles played live is something I’m really looking forward to.

Tom Tom Club tour the UK as part of their 30th anniversary celebrations between July 14th and 20th. Details of dates can be found at. http://www.tomtomclub.net/.

By Dorian Rogers

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