My wife and I went and saw Thomas Dolby and BT in concert this weekend. For those of you insufferably young folks, Thomas Dolby is the guy best known for She Blinded Me With Science. BT may best be known for Never Gonna Come Back Down, Flaming June, more more recently, Somnambulist (a.k.a. Simply Being Loved).
Dude. Rawk. The. Eff. On.
I had so much fun — I can’t even tell you. I’d never seen Thomas Dolby live, but it was great. The man is a performer, and he obviously has fun making and playing his music. His stage presence is perfect — it reminds me of all of the old commercials espousing “the wonders of SCIENCE!”. The trench coat and antennae-headphones with the camera bolted to the side really sell it. He doesn’t have a big lightshow or lots of effects, just a video screen in the background to give you something to look at while he’s furiously working his keyboards and pads. He seems to have taken his one-hit-wonderness in stride, and even made a few jokes about it.
On the other hand, we had seen BT several times before, and not just in concert but also one of his DJing/spinning gigs. While not quite the extravaganza that The Crystal Method put on, BT does enjoy a more involving show. However, this show was quite a bit more subdued than his previous shows, and for good reason — it consisted primarily of BT playing his new album This Binary Universe. While I like the album, many long-time fans are giving it mixed reviews because it’s not pop/dance but more ambient/experimental. (If I understand it correctly, it’s intended as a series of lullabyes and dedications to his baby daughter. So … yeah.)
Unfortunately, as much as I like the album, I will say that it’s not really appropriate for a concert venue at midnight after having listened to 90 minutes of upbeat old-school electronica from Thomas Dolby. There were plenty of drunken mouth-breathers that agreed with me and heckled inasmuch as staggeringly-drunk people can heckle. To his credit, BT did spice it up in places to keep everyone awake and interested. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t blame the crowd for grousing.
However, you could tell BT misses his spring-loaded keyboard. And in that same vein, Thomas Dolby was very excited about his mechanical raising/lowering keyboard stand. Musicians apparently take their keyboard stands very seriously.
Low points of the evening included:
- Mouth-breathers that wouldn’t STFU while Dolby was talking.
- BT getting a little overexcited on one of his songs (I think it was 1.618) and going a bit too high-pitch and high-volume at the same time for about 90% of the crowd. You could see literally the entire room grab at their ears and start yelling. Ow.
We don’t get as many good artists here in Orlando as I’d like, and unfortunately the crowd from this weekend is the reason why. As I said, there were plenty of people that were there for BT and BT only, and were very vocal about their lack of respect for Thomas Dolby. It was incredibly lame. Then when BT started playing his new album and not all the old Top 40 stuff, those same people got even more unhappy. As a performer, I’d have been pretty bummed out by the reactions from the crowd.
Highlights of the evening included:
- BT joining Thomas Dolby and doing a live remix/re-dub of Dolby’s Airwave.
- Thomas Dolby joining BT for the end of BT’s Satellite.
- BT performing his own version of Mad World (which most people remember from Donnie Darko).
- Learning about the hurdy gurdy thanks to Thomas Dolby
One of the more interesting points of the evening came when Thomas Dolby retook the stage for his encore. My wife and I were outside of the pit, and as I looked across the crowd there was a swarm of glowing white-blue rectangular fireflies — a mass of people taking pictures with their cellphones. The last concert I went to was pre-cameraphone days, so I was amused as all get-out. I can’t explain it; I’m just a geek.
Overall, I’d do it again. I had a great time. I’ll have to pick up more of Thomas Dolby’s work and give it a shot.