Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Alan Holdsworth
Thursday, 6th April 2010
Paradiso, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Article By Ian Butler
Rock and Prog names don't come any bigger than this.
Four premier musicians on a European tour, playing 10 metres from your nose in a great venue.
The tour has also been called "HoBoLeMa" by Tony Levin!
I arrived early to get a good place and was instantly overwhelmed by two drum kits on stage.
Terry Bozzio must have the biggest drum kit known to man.
The lights dimmed and they came on stage quietly and started in a typical abstract King Crimson-esque 'walk on intro' improvised fashion.
It turned out that this evening the music carried on like this and it was soon clear that there was no set list or fixed ideas.
Alan Holdsworth played dreamy, nearly Frippian soundscape-esque chords interspersed with firey solo's over slow,
almost oriental sounding cymbals and drum patterns.
The music was incredibly challenging, with all four musicians playing different things at the same time, in time.
In such a band where there is no obvious leader, who do you watch?
Arguably the best drummer in the world, or the guitarists' guitarist, the legendary Tony Levin, or the subtle powerhouse Pat Mastelotto?
Err... They appeared to take it in turns to do smaller solo's whilst then Mastelotto/Bozzio seemed to play a drum duet solo,
which actually wasn't rehearsed at all.
Tony looped his own bass 'noises' and played over them.
His weapons of choice were the NS Upright and Chapman Stick with multiple sound effects.
Levin just oozed coolness and confidence, whilst Alan Holdsworth didn't like being in the spotlight.
Pat Mastello used part acoustic and part electronic drum kit with a mixture of hand held "percussive devices" and a PC.
It reminded me of the approach of an album by Isildurs Bane and Metamorfosi Trio, called Mind Vol. 3, sort of incidental film/play music.
I was right when after 40 minutes the first 'piece' ended and Bozzio tells us that tonight's music is
essentially improvisation with his favourite musicians, but not mindless jamming.
Imagine it like an "instant film score, but never to be repeated" he said.
Essentially, he's taking his best musician friends round Europe to "intellectually improvise". Nice.
The second half was more of the same improvisation.
Tony Levin provided an experimental percussive bass groove for Bozzio to lay down a 'tribal' driving beat whilst soloing over the top.
Holdsworth joined sometimes with frantic but mind bending ("how does he do that?") soloing.
It created a big musical pot of stew.
Mastelotto was always supremely present with his perfectly timed drum patterns to fill and play against Bozzio.
They make it look so easy and you see them listening to each other, to see what works and what doesn't.
If I had to describe the music, it would be something like "evil incidental soundscapes and rhythms to a oriental thriller"!
Afterwards I talked to Levin and Mastelotto for a few moments and found out some news of a possible Mastelotto / Jonas Reingold collaboration.
I apologize for the lack of photos, but if you go to Tony Levin's Papabear website there is a picture of every gig, you can see them here.
Not everyone would find this enjoyable.
It's perhaps too 'muso' and abstract for some I would imagine.
It's so difficult to absorb and piece together, but in these times of the throw away 3 minute performance,
it makes a refreshing change to see real musicianship creativity, understanding and skill.
Enhancing my impression of their own dedication to this tour, they even took down their own kit!
I get the feeling they are playing this tour because they can and they want to.
It was one of those events that you will remember for being so unique.
Terry Bozzio Offical Website
Tony Levin Offical Website
Tony Levin Myspace
Pat Mastelotto Offical Website
Pat Mastelotto Myspace
Alan Holdsworth Offical Website