Thursday, October 10th, 2002
Return Of The Roughnecks
Just returned from the Chameleons show. It was great. Not the magical experience I might have hoped for, but that’s never something you should expect. The band was incredibly tight and energetic – Mark Burgess seems to be taking advantage of the opportunity to re-live the rock star dream. Leather pants, jumping into the crowd, hand gestures – a little cheesy but so sincere that you can’t really hold it against him. Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies were incredible on guitar, particularly impressive was the great tone Reg got from what may be the cheapest rig I’ve ever seen a professional guitarist use on stage. Details below. John Lever used headphone monitors and had to duct tape them to his head to keep them from falling off. Quite the sight.
Two hours of material including the encore spanning all their albums though ‘What Does Anything Mean’ was criminally under-represented, in my opinion. In Shreds or Nostalgia would have really made my evening, but it wasn’t to be. Opening with Swamp Thing was bold – previous shows on this tour that had been the set closer. Soul In Isolation got the nod this time around.
What else to say? I got to see the Chameleons. A reunion that a few years ago no one would have expected to happen. I feel very lucky for that, particularly since this wasn’t a retro nostalgia trip. To me, the Chameleons are only three or four years old, and some slightly dated production aside, the material absolutely holds up even twenty years later. It’s not about reminiscing, it’s about damn good music.
Guitars – Reg Smithies ran a sunburst Epiphone Les Paul through a Boss ME-33 multi-effects into a Fender Twin (modern). Dave Smithies used his wacky Micro-Frets the whole night through a series of Boss pedals into another Twin (all amps were rentals, it appeared). Mark Burgess had a sunburst Squier Precision bass – looked to be an old model though, a JV or the like, perhaps. All the guitars sounded great though. Just goes to show, I guess. On the sidelines (though never used) were a Godin Radiator (baby blue, constantly being tuned up by a roadie) and what looked to be a bolt-on neck Les Paul copy. Chameleons, travelling on the cheap!
They held a draw at the end of the evening, having handed out tickets to everyone. I was one — ONE — number off from winning a double live CD. Which is now owned by Carolyn. This ladies first business is nonsense. I should have been the first one in the door, that should be my CD! Who says chivalry is dead?
Also today – bought the new issue of Amplifier and got the Guided By Voices ‘Prince Whippet’ EP/mini-album. No chance to listen to it yet though.
And now it’s quarter after two and I have to go to work tomorrow. Yay.