Hard on Love
Breakin' in my Heart
Little Johnny Jewel
"Master of the Telecaster, Richard Lloyd.....Stratocaster...Stratocaster!"
I Don't Care
Come on In
Hard on Love
Breakin' in my Heart
Their first gig outside New York City and Television come roaring into Cleveland with something to prove. It's pretty obvious that no-one seems to know who they are - you get so used to hearing the opening notes of "Marquee Moon" drowned in a roar of approval that to hear it greeted by silence is very odd.
And they play like band in a hurry - no hanging back, no letting up and with such energy and passion. Perhaps taking into account unfamiliar surroundings and an audience needing to be won over, Television lock into their identity as a band and play the set with confidence and assurance. Verlaine and Lloyd are like two halves of the same mind, their guitars together and in synch, building the songs between them. There's no way that this comes across simply as Verlaine's band, at least not on this occasion. In fact, Richard Lloyd is all over this music and, while I prefer Verlaine's playing for its sheer unpredictability, it's Lloyd's guitar that seems to be holding things together here. At one point Verlaine acknowledges Lloyd's playing and it's an acknowledgement well made.
They start with a furious, terrific version of "Fire Engine" and the pace hardly lets up until the end of the gig. "Hard On Love" is surely structured around the chord sequence and melody that became "Without A Word" on "Dreamtime"; Verlaine and Lloyd are in tune with each other with their guitar sounds merging rather than sparking off each other.
"Friction" and "Careful" are very together, very tight; this is a band that isn't messing about. Neither Verlaine or Lloyd has the strongest or most reliable of voices and their vocals are rough and ready but carried by their passionate delivery. Here, Television's sense of exploration seems to have been held in check in favour of presenting the songs as definite and finite things. So "Marquee Moon" doesn't veer off into its usual sonic experimentation but, instead, sticks to the structure of the version that would appear on the eponymous album. Although it isn't as 'wild' as you might be used to, it's tight and controlled and a rush.
"Breakin' In My Heart" doesn't have the ringing clarity of the version Verlaine would later record. There's fuzzy guitar and a thicker, meatier sound. The lyrics don't bear much resemblance to the recorded version either - it's the one time in the set that Verlaine allows himself to improvise, think aloud if you like. He slows down the middle section and almost speaks the lyric while the rest of the band hang back and Lloyd holds the thing together with some nice runs and some thick chording behind the vocal before letting loose with an off-centre break.
"Little Johnny Jewel", usually the one place where you might count on the totally unexpected, is also held to a fairly formal/linear structure. It's slightly faster and shorter than they usually take it and Verlaine steps to the fore. It's less a Verlaine showpiece and, once again, a band performance - you especially notice Ficca's rolling and tumbling drums and Fred Smith's bass lines.
There's a nod (I'd like to think) to Hendrix when "Foxhole" is preceded by a few electric guitar lines of "The Last Post" and then, with a shout from Verlaine of "Hey, soldier boy!" it's straight in. "Kingdom Come" ends things in a rush with crashing, rolling drums and guitars all over the place. It sounds exhausting and exhilarating.
This a great recording - far better (if less daring) than "The Blow Up".
Of the two shows, I much prefer the first. The show on the 26th just doesn't have the same punch, although it does have its moments. There's a version of "Psychotic Reaction" that sounds, in a weird way, like The Monkees jamming with The Magic Band and which ends in what sounds like a 20-second chord. "Hard On Love" is much better on the 26th and a perfect example of the difference/contrast in Verlaine's and Lloyd's guitar styles - Lloyd's guitar carries the song but Verlaine makes it interesting. And there's "Come On In", the loveliest thing here, which sounds like a Dylan song or maybe Hank Williams on acid, with some nice lyrical almost-country guitar. There are a lot of tuning problems which break up the pace and there's also probably the sloppiest version of "Marquee Moon" I've ever heard; it sounds like the two guitarists are playing in different rooms.
"I Don't Care" cuts off in the middle and this recording has the feel of two separate performances (unless the guy who shouts for "Fire Engine" half way through came in late.)
(Question: why is there always some guy who shouts "Rock and Rolllll!" at exactly the wrong moment? Is it always the same guy? Is this what he does for a living? Do only Americans do this?)