Sweet Night, er...
Hammersmith Odeon London
Weather Report are a fine evening's worth of entertainment these days, playing strong, melodic music and demonstrating an ability to craft talent and technology into a formidable whole that is difficult to resist.
During the set the band managed to cover some older material, but the bulk of tunes came from Heavy Weather and Mr Gone. It was the first time that recently appointed drummer Peter Erskine had been heard and seen with the band on these shores, and from the evidence of this gig he seems to fit the bill perfectly. Playing a large Slingerland kit he contributes the necessary precision and flair that make him and Jaco one of the hottest rhythm sections around. Jaco himself was in fine form, a bank of three boxes - the newish Acoustic 320 amp, his trusty Acoustic 360 and an MXR digital delay — being his main tools for the evening.
Zawinul looked his usual ever-worried self, shipwrecked in a sea of keyboards that included his favoured Arps, an Oberheim poly and (I think) a Prophet, as well as the obligatory Rhodes... His playing was inspired throughout the gig, with the inevitable occasional mismatch and temporary bum mix. With the number of sources involved, though, that's quite forgivable. Wayne Shorter seemed the only weathered one slightly under form, although his soprano playing shone beautifully at times.
Sound quality improved about a quarter of the way through the set, and was kept to a reasonably low level that helped communication considerably - a too-loud Weather Report would be a real pain, in more ways than one. From my seat (way down the left of the front stalls) the drum sound was particularly good, coupling an attention to making the drums sound like drums with an appreciation of overall kit balance that was pleasure to the ears.
My only disappointment was that Jaco and Peter were unavailable for interview as The Rhythm Section — according to the press officer the band cut the number of interviews in half every time they spoke of the matter, and were decidedly unkeen to talk to the press. Sorry. By way of meagre recompense, I can offer a copy of the transcript of an interview I did with Jaco in mid-'76 to anybody who's interested and cares to send a stamped addressed envelope to me at the editorial address. How's that?
Sound Reports & Views
Music Review by Tony Bacon
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