Last night Laura and I went to see Thomas Dolby at The Handlebar. It was the first band we had seen in a long, long time – a great show, and a throwback to our college days.
Dolby is currently touring the country in his “Time Capsule Tour.” The show features lots of steam-punk kitsch, and a mocked up “time capsule” in which visitors can leave a “30 second message for the future” (basically a webcam uploading to YouTube.) The time capsule is a mini camper tricked out with steam-punk accoutrements.
Speaking of steam-punk, there were lots of folks there in various stages of costume. Many of these outfits spanned the decades of Dolby’s career. Most of these patrons were also in the 50+ age range, which made it a bit weird. There were lots of goggles and weird hats. One guy was wearing a simple Moog T-shirt, and while not outlandish like the steam-punk attire, really summed up
The opening act was an alternative bluegrass duo, the antithesis of Dolby’s techno-synth driven music. The fiddle player came out wearing extreme short shorts. I think his beard was longer than his shorts.
They were both quite good, if not a bit unusual. They did about six songs, then left the stage.
Thomas Dolby and his band came out around 9:30 to start their set. The band consisted of Dolby with his synths and samplers, a guitarist, and a drummer. Unfortunately, very tall people started to crowd where we had seats, so we didn’t get a good view right at first.
Dolby has only released four albums. The latest, “The Floating City”, was released after a 20 year hiatus. It seems a bit odd for such an influential artist to have such a small library of work. However, one of the advantages is that you can burn through all of your greatest hits fairly quickly in a show like this. Every tune is a crowd-pleaser, and please, it did. The concert did not disappoint.
About half-way through the concert we got tired of the people pushing in front of us, and headed to stand at the back of the crowd. The Handlebar is a small place, and oddly enough, we had a better view from the back. We could also dance.
Dolby wrapped up the concert with our favorite, “She Blinded Me with Science.” How could that song NOT be our favorite?? Before playing it, Dolby told the story of the hapless scientist whose voice is sampled on the song. The late Dr. Magnus Pyke was a British chemist, well-known for his over-the-top mad scientist antics on television. After his appearance on this recording, people on the street would frequently run up to him and shout “Science!”, annoying him to no end. It seems only appropriate to include the original video here…
That was the end of Dolby’s concert, and Laura wanted to leave on that note. I wanted to stick around for the encores, though, and we got two of them – one from the latest album and one from Astronauts and Heretics. It was a great show, and I’m glad we went.
In my recent series on iPads and music I mentioned several of my musical influences, but somehow forgot to include Thomas Dolby. His omission is certainly a mistake. So, of course, in addition to enjoying the show, I watched to see what equipment he was using and how he had things set up.
It was a great evening, and Laura and I both decided that we needed to see more live shows.
One thought on “She Blinded Me with Science”
You should have stopped by the group of motorcyclists who were gathered outside the Handlebar that night. I was amongst them, enjoying the evening air, and a meal with the other ADVRiders.