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SEAN LENNON + LES CLAYPOOL = DELIRIUM!
When I first learned of the Claypool Lennon Delirium it was right after their 2016 tour and I was so very disappointed that I had missed it. Having seen some of the videos from that tour, I knew it would be an amazing concert to witness.
Les Claypool of Primus fame is certainly one of the very best bass players of all times, his innovative style is so his and no one else's. Les is in the same ranks of Jaco Pastorius, John Entwistle, Stanley Clarke, and Tony Levin. (I can't wait to see Tony Levin again next month when King Crimson comes to Denver!)
The Delirium all started from a little acoustic jam session with Sean and Les playing together in the back of the tour bus while waiting for one of their concerts to begin. Sean's band, "Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger" was the opening band of the 2015 Primus and Dinosaur Jr. tour.
Les picked up on that Sean has his own style or signature that was unique to Les and so the two began to work together on some new music. One thing leads to another and the Delerium was formed.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium 2019 Tour brought them to Denver on Saturday night, August 17th, playing the Ogden Theater. The Ogden is a wonderful old-time theater built in 1917 and has been a standard on Colfax Avenue since then.
The Delirium's album "Monolith of Phobos" was released June 3rd of this year, therefore this will be known as the Monolith of Phobos tour.
Now when it comes to Sean Lennon and his guitar playing many people are quite clueless about his chops. Sean uses two custom made Bilt Zaftig guitars both in concert and when recording, though this Saturday night Sean only had his flashy metallic green on stage. Before the concert, I had never seen a Bilt guitar used in concert, at least that I know of. (I've seen well over 2000 concerts and shows since 1972.)
Since I was just a few feet away from Sean, right up against the railing and dead in front of him, I could watch his petal work. He has an array of various petals and knobs that he is always using as he plays his Bilt Zaftig guitar.
The concert started with a band called, "Uni" of which the bass player is Sean's long-time girlfriend since 2005, Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Kemp (as she is known) is the bass player and vocalist for "The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger" and thus the reason this band is gigging with the Delirium.
Uni was founded in 2017 by Kemp, vocalist Nico Fuzz and guitarist David Strange. Currently, they have a single released in November 2017, "What's the Problem" and B-side, "Adult Video". An album, "Mushroom Cloud" was released March 2018 by the avant-garde rockers from New York City.
I hate to say it, but personally, I thought the band was just ok. They certainly were not on par with the Delirium and I was finding myself anticipating the main act to start soon.
Uni's gear filled the stage floor as there were six musicians on stage with quite the set up of equipment. Though most of the gear was the usual suspects, they also had a Leslie Vibratone loudspeaker in play!
It is quite the rarity to see a Leslie Vibratone being used on stage for a rock show these days. Originally this type of speaker was built to help organs being played in smaller venues to sound more like a pipe organ. The unusual thing about these speakers is the fact that they have a rotating horn and drum.
The Leslie speakers first were made in 1941 by Donald Leslie, who later sold the company to CBS, who later sold it to the Hammond Organ Company, which was later bought by the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation. The model on stage that Uni was implementing was a unit built in the 1950s, in a wooden cabinet.
Though I was trying to figure which band member was making use of the Leslie speaker by tracing the patch cords, I can not confirm this, but I think it was connected to the lead vocalist, Nico Fuzz's microphone.
Once the Uni band equipment was removed from the stage, exposing the Delirium's gear, it was quite obvious that most of the gear that originally was on stage belonged to Uni. The Delirium's stage setting was pretty minimal with just the needed gear for a wild and crazy bassist, a drummer, keyboardist and Sean on one custom-built guitar.
I have been to the Ogden Theater plenty of times over the past decades for concerts and this show's stage lighting was quite unusual in that there was no lighting used to light up the musician playing near the front of the stage. There was never the lighting to actually show Sean and Les's faces and they were in the dark the entire show! Sean was like a silhouette playing just eight feet in front of me.
(Thus the reason why all my images are so dark. Had I been allowed to bring in my Lumix camera, I could have corrected that somewhat. I was using my LG Charge phone.)
So finally the four Delirious Guys show up on stage! Paulo Baldi, formerly with Cake on drums, Beasties Boy's keyboardist, Mark Ramos, Sean and Les, and the crowd gleefully erupts!
Before I tell you about the music that happened, I first have to admit something about me and those great concerts...
There are times when the music just gets to me so damned much that I cannot help but to cry a little. I know this sounds mushy, but it is just how live music can affect me.
Wouldn't you know it? The first song of the set and it instantly gives me a rush at the first note. Can it be? Yes, it is!
There are two rules to playing live rock, never cover Pink Floyd or King Crimson unless you're really fucking great doing it.
They start the night with "Astronomy Domine" and it was so damn amazing to see and hear happen right in front of my face! Pre-1972 Pink Floyd was what we were tripping to back in high school and this has always been a favorite of mine. Yes, I cried.
Admittedly, I was not very familiar with Delirium's music, but that didn't matter because I knew from all the videos I've seen of theirs on the internet that this would be quite the concert to witness.
2nd song: Easily Charmed By Fools
3rd song: Blood and Rockets: Movement 1, Saga of Jack Parsons - Movement 2 Too the Moon
4th song: South of Reality
5th song: The Court of the Crimson King
Yeah dammit, I cried again. Are you kidding me? I've seen King Crimson 19 times in concert, my favorite live band perhaps and the Delirium just NAILED this song and it was great to hear a lot of the crowd sing along. This song was written and recorded originally in 1969 and it is still just as heavy and awesome as the day it was released.
6th song: Boriska
7th song: Amethyst Realm
8th song: Mr. Wright
9th song: Boomerang Baby
10th song: Breath of a Salesman
11th song: Cricket Chronicles Revisited: Part 1, Ask Your Doctor - Part 2, Psyde Effects
12th song: Like Fleas
13th song: Tomorrow Never Knows
OMG! The chills I got when I realized what Sean was playing! This was Sean taking his Dad's song and just exploding it open with extra guitar work that made this song even more psychedelic than it ever was before. (Yeah, I cried.)
14th song: Cricket and the Genie (Movement 1, The Delirium)
15th song: Cricket and the Genie (Movement 2, Oratorio Di Cricket)
16th song: Toady Man's Hour
17th song: Southbound Pachyderm
What an incredible night of music! Everyone left the venue thoroughly pleased. The Claypool Lennon Delirium tour has come to a finish for now. Hopefully, you all got to catch a show and if not be sure to catch them the next time should they tour again!
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I just noticed that the most lit up thing most of the time with Sean is his shoe being lit up with the petal board light. One darkly lit show.
Cool story, very informative!!! Thanks.