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November 3, 2005

Where Despair Ends And Tactics Begin

Two days ago, I went to see Mark Stewart & Maffia. I waited more or less 15 years for this concert and wasn't disappointed, it turned out to be a thing of beauty. Quite a wonder how music that relentlessly oozes crushing despair can be so uplifting. Wimbish's bass is still wicked and Sherwood an absolute genius at the mixer. Stewart seemed a bit lame at first, as he started off with a rather tired version of "Liberty City", but then he warmed up and was magnificent. When they peaked, I had a rare experience of immersion, the impression of not hearing but being the music for a few seconds. No feeling of a body that isn't part of the sound, no sense of gravity weighing me down. It's probably a meaningless question, but is this what all the techno kids feel during their supposed love parade ecstasies? I kept wondering afterwards. Sadly, the band had the bothersome tendency to deliver medleys instead of songs: over LeBlanc's machine-style drumming, the guitarists laid some indistinct riff to which Stewart was reciting snippets from several songs that bled into each other. I know that this is an On-U custom, but it's a bad idea anyway, because the songs have no time to gather momentum. It was especially sad when Stewart gave four lines from his historic "Jerusalem" version and then stopped and did something else. Any amount of lines from that song is a darn treat, but if they'd played the whole track, I might have disappeared into the P. A. and never come back And wouldn't that have been interesting?


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