It’s 8.00 PM in Leidseplein, Amsterdam. The sky’s covered in a thick layer of light grey clouds, there’s moisture in the air, carried by a mild wind that soothes my face. After a nice dinner with friends and a beer/smoke to wash it all down, we all steer towards the entrance.
To my surprise, I find out that Motorpsycho is playing tonight in the Oude Zaal (“The Old Venue”, the smaller of the two stages here at the Melkweg), which makes me think that they probably haven’t as big a fanbase here in Amsterdam as they do way down south, where I’ve seen them perform in many occasions to a roomful of ecstatic fans. Little it matters, though; I’ve learned, after many years of following these guys’ adventure, that it doesn’t matter to them if there’s 1000 or just 1 person in the room. They’ll deliver anyway. And they’ll do it in their fashion, no matter what, even if it means that after 4 hours of incessant delivering of sanity-challenging, spaced-out jazzy improvs there’ll be only 20 heads still standing in the audience, while another 800 will be lying on the floor, worn-out and passed-out (their legendary show at Roadburn 2009, anyone?). That’s for me the beauty of Motorpsycho and their live shows: in a way, I know what I’m going to get, but still I have no idea what I’m going to get, only HOW I’m going to get it. And, If the past few months haven’t tamed the ‘psychos, I know it’s going to be a long, pleasant trip.
So I enter the gates (courtesy of Branislav, thanks mate), lose all unnecessary burdens at the wardrobe and waltz inside the half-empty room. I look around and see many faces I know from other MP shows, plus a few new ones, and even a few everybody should know, like Goatsnake’s bassist, the guitarist of Italian stoners WoodWall and one of legendary 35007’s axemen, among others. I start feeling like I’m in good company and, most of all, in the right place. I, as I bet everyone else in the room, immediately notice an extra pedal-board, extra-microphone and keyboard/synth on the left side of the stage, which makes me wonder who’s going to be on stage with the band tonight…
Lights out. The band walks on stage to the crowd’s welcoming sound (while I was setting my camera, the number of the attendee’s had at least doubled up, by the way) and the show begins. Bent, Snah and Kenneth are definitely in great shape and obviously in a good mood (especially considering that they’ve been touring for two weeks through the best part of western Europe), as they deliver a splendid rendition of their latest album’s opener, “Hell”, to kick off the night in style. The “mystery guest” turns out to be none other than Swedish guitarist Reine Fiske, of Elephant9 and Dungen fame among others (go check that stuff out, if you haven’t yet). A very welcome surprise, I must say, as he makes it immediately clear that he’s in perfect sync with the band and is willing to lend every last ounce of his talent to the cause. Obviously technically proficient, but never prone to overplaying, Fiske would definitely be my first choice if Motorpsycho should ever decide to go on as a four-piece, like they did in the mid-90’s. Anyway, back to the show…
Drawing in equal measure from their early classic albums, like “Trust Us”, “Timothy’s Monster” (a dazzling, spine-chilling rendition of “Watersound”), ”Angels and Daemons At Play” and “Demon Box”, and their later, more tortuous and progressive efforts (above all, the bone-shaking, spastic syncopations of “The Alchemyst”, from their 2007 masterwork “Little Lucid Moments”), Motorpsycho leave nothing behind and give the audience a nearly flawless performance of their most beautiful music, spanning an entire discography and nearly 25 years of the band’s history. All enriched with lengthy gallops into improvised, progressive Motorpsychodelia, which have become their trademark in live performance since the addition of drummer Kenneth Kapstadt, whom I daresay is one of the most versatile, soulful and tasteful young rock drummers of today. His ever-so-busy kick-drums and Bent Sæther’s distinctive “upside-down” bass sound create a monumental wall of sound which seem to be able to lurk among the people in the audience like the mist from the eponymous movie, like a living thing, the perfect foundation for Snah to lay down his torrential flux of graciously nervous six-stringed spontaneity. The first portion of the show ends way too quickly for some of us, only until we realize that 2 hours have passed already…
After a short pause, the four musici come back for a more relaxed, mellow and introspective first encore. We get treated with masterly interpretations of “Whip That Ghost” (from “Let Them Eat Cake”, tonight’s most exploited of their releases) and their new song “August”, before they leave us again while droning out the hypnotic cantilene of Moondog’s “All Is Loneliness”, another piece of music they’ve manage to make unmistakably their own. Fade out for a few more second, until the chanting and screaming of the never satisfied audience brings them back on stage once again. It’s the turn this time for their 1995 album “Blissard” (I know many in the audience were wondering if the band really weren’t going to touch that one tonight!) and a haunting low-tuned version of “Fool’s Gold”, wrapping up a flawless nearly 3-hour show and a great evening of enthralling rock music.
Thumbs up for Motorpsycho and Reine Fiske, as we all walk out of the room to pillage the merch stand, while still our eardrums resonate to the memory of that one last chord.
3. Stained Glass
4. Cornucopia incl. Go to California
5. Uberpilgrim (Uberwagner)
7. Upstairs Downstairs
9. Kill Devil Hills
11. You Lied
12. Arne H.
13. Whip that Ghost
15. All is Loneliness
16. Fool's Gold
Motorpsycho’s new album “Still Life With Eggplant” is out now on Stickman Records.
Report made by Tommy Morelli/2013
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