Velvet Underground founding member John Cale indulged the artrock / prog fans in Edinburgh this August by jumping from organ to guitar as he swam through a set list that illustrated his lengthy career and vast discography. With no support active and a prompt 8pm start, Cale ploughed his way through a generous 15 tracks, including an encore to keep his die-hard fans on their toes.
Within the context of August in Edinburgh and the International Festival’s Contemporary Music programme, Cale’s set incorporated flickering, vibrant visuals. Sadly, the scene-setting often stole the show, though there were brief moments where we were pulled away from the theatrics and transported to an experimental setting. It did seem that another venue would be best suited. Cale’s performance ‘Paris 1919’ for one, though fulfilling the fan’s expectations just felt short of feeling sat in the Festival Theatre. Though losing yourself amidst the drums and the discord took more effort than you would expect at Cale gig, it was magical when achieved, like during his performance of ‘Helen of Troy’.
Treating us to the most depressing encore for a Saturday night, Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ is executed with the panache and style you’d expect from Cale before he wishes the audience goodnight. It’s another successful legendary gig from the International Festival yet again.