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Tangerine Dream

Live Review

Venue: Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Prog reviews the band's London show on their farewell tour.

It’s an odd night. This is the band’s London show on their farewell world tour, and not only is guitarist/violinist Bernhard Beibl missing – due to financial reasons – but there are no lasers, apparently so much a part of the band’s recent Cruise To The Edge performance.

As a result of the latter, visuals are reliant on the venue’s house lighting, plus the video screen at the back of the stage. It’s all just a touch prosaic, lacking the imagination to bring an extra dimension to the music. Those present, however, appear to care little about such details.

There are two sets. The first, lasting an hour, has the audience totally wrapped up in the music, listening intently to every bending note and the shaping of the electronic wash – so much so that there’s almost complete silence in the venue, which gives the atmosphere a sense of eeriness that’s slightly robotic. 

The second set, which lasts for close to 90 minutes, has everyone more animated and is fuelled by Linda Spa and Iris Camaa. Although they spend much of the set at the back of the ensemble, the pair add a freshness and glamour to the flow, which is accentuated when Spa, brilliant on keyboards and various wind instruments, sashays to the front on a couple of occasions and enjoys being the centre of attention. Camaa, meanwhile, is a sensational percussionist, proving that, like Spa, she has a musical right to be part of this Dream team.

The setlist sensibly spans the band’s career, with Edgar Froese majestically guiding it all from behind his keyboards. As everything is carefully curated to flow with real melodrama, it’s unfair to cherry-pick highlights, but Odd Welcome, Grind, Song Of The Whale and White Eagle are flawless and have a restive impact, as if they’ve never been played live before.

Froese is an almost statuesque presence, leading not through the force of his personality, but more as the conductor – in both senses of the word – of the musical score. And the Dream leader seems to revel in the warm applause he gets on the few occasions he straps on a guitar. 

Tangerine Dream have always been about playing for the crowd, not to the crowd. That doesn’t alter here. And there’s something almost expected as Froese shuffles offstage, shrugging his shoulders, as a farewell gesture. Understated to the end.

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