The evening’s charm-ometer needle breaks the dial whenever Cale spasms with impromptu directions, duplicating and sometimes throwing off the conductor in an impish, muso way. Hailing from Wales before establishing himself in NYC, his vocals haven’t degraded over time, being extemporal mystic hill property – and he warmly garbles appreciation and solidarity for his compatriot Le Bon’s even more magical voice before ‘Amsterdam’.
‘Waiting for the Man’ is all art, no rock; plodding yet rushed and so fidgety that anyone trying to stay clean in here immediately rushes out to beat the crowd and go score – the night’s only Velvets song (the second night of this Barbican double-header, agonisingly, will get ‘Lady Godiva’ and ‘Stephanie Says’) must signal the coming of the end. And, leaving the en masse happy birthday and ‘Emily,’ it does.
John Cale @ Barbican, London, Friday 9 March 2018
Photos: Mark Allan/Barbican
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