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Some good iceblink luck
March 9, 2012 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Friday dreams. Simon Raymonde, bassist of Cocteau Twins, writes: A rare nostalgia moment: i didnt think any footage from the Heaven or Las Vegas tour in 1990 existed and i remember how cool it was being able to have a lighting designer for the first time that tour but have never seen how our stage looked from the audience till tonight so this is a treat to me. The whole concert in on youtube now pretty much. And my god, what a voice Elizabeth had on this tour, absolutely perfect on every song. Some rare good memories.

Setlist:

Blue Bell Knoll
From the Flagstones
Iceblink Luck
Orange Appled
Wolf in the Breast
Crushed
Pitch the Baby
Cherry Coloured Funk
Road, River and Rail
A Kissed Out Red Floatboat
Heaven or Las Vegas
Aikea Guinea
Pink Orange Red

Encore:

Whales’ Tails
Mizake the Mizan
posted by timshel (48 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw them open up for The Police sometime in the mid-80s I think. I was there with my mom. Gods, I was such a geek.















AM. Am a geek. Sorry about that.
posted by clvrmnky at 11:29 AM on March 9, 2012


Heaven or Las Vegas is one of the most singularly joyful albums I have ever heard. Elizabeth Fraser's voice just has this sublime sense of... unreserved delight, even in the more subdued tracks. I believe that album came out right after the birth of her first child, and there's this sense of motherly love that just pours through so many of the songs. It still warms me, every time I hear it.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:42 AM on March 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pink Orange Red

Mmmmmmmm.
posted by byanyothername at 11:53 AM on March 9, 2012


When I was a kid, it was the melancholic intensity of Blue Bell Knoll that I thought of as the Cocteau Twins' signature sound. As I get older, though, the album just feels overwrought. Still beautiful, but a chore somehow to listen through. But Heaven or Las Vegas, which I thought of as too commercial at the time, just gets better and better every time I play it.

God I love this band. Thanks timshel. After everyone has gone to bed tonight, I'm going to open a bottle of wine and watch this all the way through. I can't wait.
posted by R. Schlock at 11:58 AM on March 9, 2012


Love them... finally got to see them at the Warfield in San Francisco on the tour after this one. Not as big a stage setup but what a show... the only one I've yet to see that brought goths, hippies, and indie rockers together in one place.
posted by cell divide at 11:59 AM on March 9, 2012


This is so cool, a bootleg soundboard CD of one of the shows from this tour is one of my most cherished albums.

So wish I'd been able to see them at their peak (just a few years too young).
posted by brilliantmistake at 12:02 PM on March 9, 2012


I loved this band, too. Sadly, I never got see them perform live. Honestly, I was never sure how they would translate to a live performance, given their sound. I always assumed something would be lost in the translation. Many thanks for this!
posted by Thorzdad at 12:04 PM on March 9, 2012


I hated the Cocteau Twins during their actual heyday because I couldn't understand a thing Fraser was singing. It has only been in the last ten years that it dawned on me that not only didn't that matter, but that was kind of the point. She is one of those singers who can communicate a range of emotion and beauty just singing "ahhh."

My 20 year old self cringes as I type this, but they truly were one of the great bands of the period.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:32 PM on March 9, 2012


I saw them for this tour at the Ritz in NYC ("New Ritz" on 54th street, now gone. Galaxie 500 opened), and the light show was indeed spectacular. All state of the art robotics, and the squat little futuristic footlighting robots almost had a personality as they cycled through their various sequences. It was all multicolored shimmery curtains sweeping at angles over the crowd, gorgeous and embracing.

They being one of my favorite bands of all time and this being my first time seeing them, I wanted the show to be one of the major events in my life up to that point and I wanted emotional, aural and psychic foundations shook to the core with a sustained kilolton blast of icy guitar fire that would just make me pure and ecstatic and released and made new. There were two guitarists supplementing Robin Guthrie. They were all playing Fender Jazzmasters or Jaguars BTW, and if I wasn't already obsessed enough with those beautiful guitars, after that show, getting a Jag became the Number 1 priority (Didn't get one until about a decade later as luck would have it. A good Jap re-issue which I upgraded the pick-ups and put in a more sturdy high-quality Mustang bridge and made it almost perfect. Cept I still want a Jazzmaster).

The thing is that those guitars just needed be about two or three times louder. It was so frustrating to not have them open up in all their glory and as I said and just crack the earth open. If that ever was the case I imagine it was probably on their pre-Blue Bell Knoll period (1988). I imagine that level of noise would've detracted from Liz's spectacular vocals and melodies though. Also being in a band I think I was used to having loud guitars.

Liz was such a tiny little birdlike woman barely keeping it together. Her singing stunning. Bundled up on her whole being. So clear and enthralling. She was perfect. I had a huge crush.
posted by Skygazer at 12:46 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This band is still one of my all time favorite artists ever, and I am not (generally) a nostalgic person. I've actually never seen any live footage of them so this is an unexpected Friday gift. Thanks for posting this.
posted by adamd1 at 1:02 PM on March 9, 2012


It never occurred to me to want to see them live. It seemed wrong: how could they not disappoint?

Stupid, stupid, stupid...
posted by GeorgeBickham at 1:04 PM on March 9, 2012


Arg. The set is missing the best song, Fotzepolitic
posted by timsneezed at 1:14 PM on March 9, 2012


They're still my favorite band of all time. I saw them twice on that tour: once in Cincinnati (only time I've ever gone to that city) and once in Minneapolis. Totally beautiful both times. I remember how the stage was about five people playing guitars, a rack of electronics and Liz. They opened with Dials, and had amazing stage lighting -- very dreamy and perfectly complementing the performance. Two of my best memories. I had been worried that they'd disappoint, but they didn't at all.

Robin, Simon and Liz are still producing music, though separately. There have been attempts at a reunion, but nothing has come to fruition yet.
posted by jiawen at 1:18 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


For being one of my favorite bands, I haven't heard of half of the songs listed here. There goes my Friday. After Victorialand, Heaven and Four Calendar, what's the best to check out?

Skygazer - I have a '59 Jazzmaster and even thought the bridge is covered in rust and likely not set right and the frets are worn down… it plays great.
posted by jabo at 1:25 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


jabo, check out the EPs from the same eras as those albums. Evangeline and Bluebeard strongly resemble Four Calendar Cafe, for example. Milk and Kisses is in the same vein, as is Blue Bell Knoll.
posted by jiawen at 1:33 PM on March 9, 2012


Robin Guthrie played with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance at Irving last year and they were both stellar, especially Brendan Perry who played lots of DCD songs and just killed all around, (and announced DCD were regrouping BTW with a new CD and Tour, much to the huge delight of the audience).

Guthrie was excellent. He's a superb arranger and composer, and his lexicon / palatte of processed guitar sounds might be without equal, that I know of, it is a phenomenal thing, but all the same, I felt a loneliness to his songs and an emptiness from a lack of a voice. I don't know how aware he is of that.

Smart Dalek and I spoke to the woman at the table, a good friend of Guthrie's (His new mate I guess), and I when I asked her if there was any chance of the Cocteau Twins reforming she was pretty definitive that that was not going to happen. No way and no how. Zero chance.

As the story goes their marriage fell apart rather spectacularly, and although Liz and Robin have a 17 year old child, they're not on good terms, and it seems that's mostly cos Liz finally gave up on getting Guthrie to stop using drugs the last time they tried to regroup in the mid-90s, and the final things they recorded together (the sad and shapeless Twinlights ep), wasn't so hot. This from a band who literally could do no wrong through most of it's recording history.

I still think their the sound of perhaps the next step in human evolution, though...or perhaps one of the final steps in mankinds evolution just before everyone who lives and lived is converted into beings of pure light travelling the cosmos as light forever.
posted by Skygazer at 1:40 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


("New Ritz" on 54th street, now gone. Galaxie 500 opened)

What a show that must have been. A few years ago I worked out of the next building over, at 250 W. 54th. I believe 254 W. 54th is now a Golds Gym.
posted by timshel at 1:47 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some extra rare Cocteau Twins goodness, check out the Robin Guthrie produced "Primitive Painters" by Felt (a woeful unheard band). You'll note that Elizabeth Fraser's backing vocals on this song are typically breathtaking.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:52 PM on March 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Jabo: I have a '59 Jazzmaster and even thought the bridge is covered in rust and likely not set right and the frets are worn down… it plays great.

Yeah, when I think of all the great music made on those guitars mostly by British Post-punk bands, (How did England get a monopoly on so many Fender Jazzmasters, anyway?). If it sill plays well and can hold it's tuning after all this time that's one fuck of great guitar rust or no rust (that cane be dealt with easily). When I was playing regularly I had to get my Jag set-up and intoned every 6 months or so, but I was very anal that way anyhow. New strings (broken in by a day or so of playing) each show and notes of settings for each processed sound vis a vis the amp etc. (Yeah guitar geekery there, but my philosophy is do whatever you can to be as secure and comfortable on a stage as possible, because there's going to be plenty of variables you wont have any control over already).

As for what to listen to further, Blue Bell Knoll from '88 is incredible, but there's so much more to discover: Head Over Heels, Loves Easy Tears, The Pink Opaque, TREASURE LP (superb...superb...) (The Pink Opaque is a collection of GREAT early singles put together to introduce them to the U.S.) and their insanely great collaboration with composer Harold Budd around '86 as The Moon and The Melodies. The aforementioned Four Calendar Cafe is awesome as well...I think it's the last good thing they did...
posted by Skygazer at 1:55 PM on March 9, 2012


check out the Robin Guthrie produced "Primitive Painters" by Felt

Ohhhhhhhhh you should see my trail of disgrace
it's enough to scare the whooooooooole human race

Felt deserves an FPP, don't they?
posted by timshel at 1:55 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Absolutely. I was thinking the same thing.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:58 PM on March 9, 2012


For some extra rare Cocteau Twins goodness, check out the Robin Guthrie produced "Primitive Painters" by Felt (a woeful unheard band). You'll note that Elizabeth Fraser's backing vocals on this song are typically breathtaking.

Yes, excellent. And since we're going to go there, get Felt's Double LP Crumbling the Antiseptic Beauty / The Splendour of Fear. Literally one of my top favorite musical creations ever....

Also, there's a single Liz Fraser put out with Massive Attack whose name is escaping me right now, but in solidarity with Robin Guthrie (she's dating, married or something or other with a member of Massive Attack), I've yet to listen too. I think it charted or something. Liz also was with Jeff Buckley (Yeah, that Jeff Buckley) for a while after she and Guthrie split up.
posted by Skygazer at 2:00 PM on March 9, 2012


Also, there's a single Liz Fraser put out with Massive Attack whose name is escaping me right now

Teardrop.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 2:04 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


TimSheil: Felt deserves an FPP, don't they?

Joey Michaels: Absolutely. I was thinking the same thing.

How can there not ever have been an FPP on Felt? Really? This is a personal affront to me. From myself.

You know, I probably thought I wouldn't be able to do it proper justice, now that I think about it. Shame on me.
posted by Skygazer at 2:26 PM on March 9, 2012


TimSheil and Skygazer: maybe we can crowd source it (since three is a crowd)? MeMail me and we can get on it if you want.

And back on topic, Elizabeth Fraser's solo work is really lovely, too.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:39 PM on March 9, 2012


I can't trust either of you to make good on a collaborative Felt post if you can't get my username right, FlyTazer and Chloe Cycles
posted by timshel at 2:46 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw several shows on this tour in the U.S. At one, I had to physically restrained from kicking the shit out of some skinny ass white boy who--right as the applause started at the end of From the Flagstones--turned to the guy next to him and said, in the most overwrought hand-staple-forehead tone EVER. "Oh my god! That is my most amazing favorite song ever. and she RUINED it. That sounded more terrible than possible. I hate Liz Fraser, now, she has RUINED everything."

I was glad they left.

No, they don't sound like the recordings live. They sound like very good musicians, performing songs you're used to hearing with lots of complicated overbudding live.

I'm glad there's footage--it certainly sounded perfect to me.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:53 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


They sound like very good musicians, performing songs you're used to hearing with lots of complicated overbudding live.

So, this interests me. I seem to remember an interview in which Guthrie complained that people assumed they used backing tracks live, but he swore that they didn't. Did they use lots of delay instead? Anyhow, they sound marvellous.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 3:02 PM on March 9, 2012


Here's Orange Appled, from the same epoch and at decent quality. From the great Snub TV.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 3:12 PM on March 9, 2012


I hated the Cocteau Twins during their actual heyday because I couldn't understand a thing Fraser was singing. It has only been in the last ten years that it dawned on me that not only didn't that matter, but that was kind of the point.

Apparently you weren't aware of "The Secret Origin of Them Cockatoo Twins"
posted by prinado at 3:17 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Twins are notorious for having tonnes of great material not on albums. For Cocteau newbies the Lullabies to Violaine collection is an awesome career spanning collection of all things Cocteau, all made up of stuff that didn't make the LPs.

Also Robin Guthrie's solo work is well worth checking out (although the first thing you think is how much better Liz's voice would make it)
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:37 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


To add to the Elizabeth Fraser cameo appearances list, she did some vocals for The Future Sound Of London, on a few tracks found on the Lifeforms...single? I always thought that was a strange place for her to surface, but there you go. FSOL were trying to recapture the "Papua New Guinea" vibe on that one, methinks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to listen to Tiny Dynamine, Echoes In A Shallow Bay, and Love's Easy Tears back to back to back, as nature intended.
posted by the painkiller at 3:40 PM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just dropped in to say I named my cat Lorelei. Love em.
posted by teekat at 3:42 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Elizabeth Fraser's voice, along with some other things, justifies the existence of our species.
posted by winna at 3:53 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Saw the Perry/Guthrie show last year--so great.

Here's Robin Guthrie and John Foxx (ex-Ultravox! lead singer) from their recentish Mirrorball album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKH_J03NMJM.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:34 PM on March 9, 2012


I saw them in 1985 (27 years!) at The Ritz on a whirlwind tour of NYC after I graduated from high school. Opened with a beating, glowing heart behind the curtain. Great show, but even greater people. The embryonic styles of what would later be known as "goth". Spent all my money on concerts and records and hung out outside Radio City Music Hall when the MTV Awards were on. Andy Warhol, Rick James, Duran Duran, Boy George. The big apple treated me right that trip.
posted by pashdown at 5:12 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well crap, and here I am without any serious psychedelics.

...pause...

You bastards.
posted by aramaic at 5:41 PM on March 9, 2012


The best female vocalist in musical history. She is a genius composer of melodies as well.
posted by relaxok at 6:25 PM on March 9, 2012


I believe 254 W. 54th is now a Golds Gym.

Ugh. My brief NYC music-seeing era managed to straddle the 11th Street Ritz (The Stranglers, Fugazi, Smithereens) and the 54th Street iteration (Bad Brains, the Chili Peppers). Time marches on blah blah blah, but the thought of a Gold's Gym is just really bumming me out tonight.
posted by jalexei at 7:00 PM on March 9, 2012


I loved this band, too. Sadly, I never got see them perform live. Honestly, I was never sure how they would translate to a live performance, given their sound. I always assumed something would be lost in the translation. Many thanks for this!

I saw them in the early 1990s (perhaps on this tour) and it was amazing. The first time I've ever seen a "rock" audience sit in their seats spellbound - no chatting, yelling, or rushing the stage - quiet, and incredibly respectful. It was almost like being at a symphony performance.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:38 PM on March 9, 2012


Joey, thanks for the Felt recommendation.

While we're on the topic, everyone knows Dif Juz, right? Their song No Motion is my single favorite song ever, and they did a song with Liz called Love Insane.

Also, check out Yu-Ra. I can't find any of their videos anywhere, unfortunately.
posted by jiawen at 8:13 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


No mention of her appearances with This Mortal Coil?
Song to the Siren
Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust
Another Day
posted by senor biggles at 10:29 PM on March 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Liz Fraser with Ian McCullough (of Echo & The Bunnymen off his first solo album of the same name): Candleland

There's an 808 State collaboration as well somewhere about...
posted by Skygazer at 10:56 PM on March 9, 2012


Cherry-Coloured Funk (Otherness-Version)
posted by homunculus at 1:07 AM on March 10, 2012


The late, great John Peel was possibly the only one in the world who liked them up until Garlands, and not one bit afterwards. Odd, maybe admirably, but so wrong.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2012


Garlands is my favorite of theirs, now. Although back in the day, I was probably a Blue Bell Knoll devotee.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:04 AM on March 10, 2012


The Twins are notorious for having tonnes of great material not on albums.

Crushed is a great example of this being true. It's arguably my personal fave Cocteau Twins track, but it appeared only on the 4AD Lonely Is An Eyesore compilation and the "Rarities" disc of The Box Set.

Apropos of this, Lonely Is An Eyesore is an absolute gem of a sampler as well. For me, it really captured the very distinctive indie sound that defined 4AD at the time, which is not a bad thing at all. Well worth a listen, there are other standout tracks on there besides Crushed.
posted by the painkiller at 3:17 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite bands. Felt is too, as you can probably tell.

I'm not sure if anyone else will find this interesting, but here's a pretty cool forum thread where Robin Guthrie discusses how he created some of the guitar sounds on specific CT songs.
posted by Dismantled King at 5:18 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


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