TRIBUTE TO SCOTT WALKER
December 3, 2013
The tribute concert to Scott Walker at Le Poisson Rouge was a largely unrehearsed mess, staggered with several charming performances of songs from the cult singer’s six decades of music.
A 1960s crooner who turned to experimental composition, musicians have long championed Scott Walker – longtime admirers include Brian Eno, David Bowie, and Julian Cope. Songs from Montague Terrace, the latest tribute album to Walker, in turn inspired this concert, which served as something of a release party for the record.
Outside of Adam Green’s version of “Duchess”, the ‘house band’ on the night never clicked – dashing off unimpressive rockabilly covers of Walker’s elegant 60s pop. The band’s failings even forced Nicole Atkins to cut short her take on “Make It Easy on Yourself” after just twenty seconds. Thankfully, a few of the other musicians managed to do the songs some justice.
Gillian Rivers, the violinist who ably reduced Wally Stott and Walker’s arrangements for her amplified trio, probably saved the night. At times frustrated and drowned out by the house band, the polished strings managed to shine when they were the centerpiece, as with Ex Cops’ “Copenhagen”, Little Annie’s “If You Go Away”, and Bright Light Bright Light’s “Two Weeks Since You’ve Gone”. Rivers, who has arranged for Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3, even rehabilitated “Someone Who Cared”, a song on Stretch, an album from Walker’s mid-70s creative nadir.
Walker’s later work – post-1978’s Nite Flights – was represented by only three songs. Invisible Familiars and Cibo Matto’s clever take on “Shutout” was one of the show’s highlights, a spacey, lounge rendition of the motorik original. Ella Joyce Buckley’s “Farmer In the City” was ambitious but missed the mark, while the cover of “See You Don’t Bump His Head” (from Walker’s 2012 album Bish Bosch) was an inventive clamor of bass drum, shrieking, and soprano sax.
Given Walker does not perform in public, the concert was still an opportunity to hear live these rarely performed gems. However, fans in New York can only hope for the kind of thoughtful, well-organized retrospectives that have been staged in London and Los Angeles over the past few years.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – - Geoffrey Lokke