Archive for the ‘Live Performances’ Category

On the continuing search for early live performances by new wave bands, I came across an appearance by the Psychedelic Furs on a show called Livewire. I vaguely recalled the show but remember seeing Bow Wow Wow and The Ramones perform in the early eighties. It was a kids’ talk show on the Nickelodeon cable channel that ran from 1980 to 1985. The show covered current events and was known for giving many unknown bands their first US TV appearance. The performances usually included an interview where the kids could ask the musicians questions. The format wasn’t groundbreaking but was interesting for the time. Other artists featured on the show included R.E.M, Split Enz, The Lords of the New Church, Afrika Bambaata, Twisted Sister, and Manowar, among others. I’ve tried digging up more performances but they are hard to come by.

The appearance by the Furs was probably in 1980, since they performed two songs off their self-titled debut album (released in 1980), and were just finishing up their first US tour. Besides performing, they also gave an interview where they were asked about the influence of the new “British Invasion” on the American music scene. Although the Furs do not perform live, the show would later change the format and have the artists give live performances. And for some reason the clips below are in black and white, which was not the regular format of the show.

“We Love You” was the first single released from the debut album. Richard Butler gives an energetic performance besides being up for over 36 hours (as we find out in the interview).

 

The second song they performed was “Sister Europe” – one of my favorites from the group. It was the second single released from the album and would later go on to be covered by Icehouse and the Foo Fighters.

 

Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ debut album, Rattlesnakes, turned 30 yesterday. I wasn’t much interested in the group back in the ‘80s. Their brand of folksy alt pop and whimsical guitar didn’t appeal to me at the time. As I got older, I found my way back to the band and, specifically, this album. Upon its release, Rattlesnakes received mostly positive reviews. Among all the synthesized music coming out of the UK, it was a breath of fresh air. The album is a delightful mix of irresistible guitar hooks, a bit of blues, and some good storytelling. Rattlesnakes has gone on to make many critics’ best of the ‘80s lists and is considered a defining album of the UK “jangle scene.”

Lloyd Cole wrote most of the songs for the album and was heavily influenced by Bob Dylan, along with his English and philosophy studies. There are philosophical and pop culture references throughout, and the name of the album is a reference to the Joan Didion novel Play It as It Lays. Although the lyrics were considered witty and intelligent at the time, they now seem a bit naïve and adolescent. Cole admits to now being a bit embarrassed by some of the lyrics but claims it was the writing of “a very young man.” The album never charted in the US, but reached #13 on the UK charts and had minor international success. The group would go on to release two more albums before disbanding in 1989.

“Perfect Skin” is the debut single. Here’s a live performance with Cole singing about a girl with “cheekbones like geometry and eyes like sin.”

 

The album’s namesake, “Rattlesnakes,” was the third single and gives reference to Eva Marie Saint, Simone de Beauvoir, and the film On the Waterfront.

 

In looking up early live performances from R.E.M., I came across their appearance on Late Night with David Letterman in 1983. It was their first national TV appearance, and the performance was quite raw and contained no shortage of enthusiasm. Besides performing two songs, they also gave a mini-interview. Michael Stipe, known for his shyness, sat quietly in the background while Mike Mills and Peter Buck handled Letterman. They started with “Radio Free Europe” and finished with a song that was so new it did not yet have a name. It would later evolve into “So. Central Rain,” which would later show up on their second album, Reckoning.

Here’s the band performing “Radio Free Europe,” with Michael Stipe hiding behind his hair and Peter Buck doing his signature shuffle.

 

The yet untitled “So. Central Rain.”

 

Side note: This November, R.E.M. will release a 6-DVD box set (REMTV) that spans 30 years of live TV and concert performances.