Captain Beefheart – Tour History


It’s an impressive version of Safe As Milk in which Don plays the middle composed bit in a more relaxed fashion. He tweaks it a little (with Montana conducting and FZ conducting the band) before transitioning into Penguin in Bondage.

In 1974, Captain Beefheart made an ill-considered attempt at commercial stardom, yet 1978’s Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) marked an incredible comeback performance from him.

The Magic Band

Beefheart finally seemed on track to achieve the recognition he desired, with Safe As Milk becoming a success and his newly appointed manager, Grant Gibbs, being both honest and sensitive to his band’s unique needs and quirks.

On this tour, the band rediscovers their musical vision and expands upon their psychedelic repertoire. Artie Tripp from Mothers Of Invention brought new rhythmic innovation and creativity to the group; his ability to play off of them and make them shine would become integral components of live band performances for years.

At first, the band struggled to adjust to each other – particularly John French, who hadn’t played with them for some time and often overshot the target with his playing speed. Gary Lucas and Denny Walley were still learning their roles, but over time, everyone found their groove and began producing great-sounding music together.

The Magic Band embarked on annual tours from 2003 to 2006 to recreate their music for new audiences, although each reunion wasn’t quite as successful as the initial ones. They were well received across Western Europe and played at Glastonbury Festival 2004 before touring back out again with Denny Walley(Gtr), Mark Boston(Bass), and Gary Lucas(Piano/Hammond Organ). The current Magic Band comprises John French(Drums/Vocals), Bill Harkleroad(Guitar/Vocals), Denny Walley(Gtr), Mark Boston(Bass), and Gary Lucas(Piano/Hammond Organ).

The first tour

As soon as his band was established in 1964, Beefheart’s unique blues-rock style became an instantaneous hit among young listeners and record labels alike. He was widely considered one of the most terrific white blues singers ever with his unique four-and-a-half octave voice unmatched at that time – but his relationships with both manager and band were often tenuous; his authority often being exerted via authoritarian measures and being an intractable personality to deal with.

Once Trout Mask Replica proved popular, Frank Zappa signed the band to Straight Records. Though their album proved both critical and commercial successes, Beefheart was dissatisfied with how its promotion was being done: He felt it should have been placed alongside Alice Cooper or GTO rather than more mainstream rock artists.

Beefheart became highly possessive of both his image and how his music was presented, frequently clashing with Zappa over their direction and content of performances. He insisted on making all decisions himself and refused to delegate that authority to anyone else.

The initial tour consisted of a setlist that featured leftover tunes from previous times (Stink-Foot and Montana), odd abstract poetry such as Debra Kadabra’s Sam With the Showing Scalp Flat Top, as well as wild jazz rock jams (Pound For A Brown, Advance Romance); blues jams such as Portuguese Lunar Landing or Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy as well as straight forward rock songs (Camarillo Brillo-Muffin Man or Velvet Sunrise). Performances were exciting but not without issues – for instance, during Bruce Baylor’s drum solo during one night of the Boston show, the band moved on to Louie Louie instead.

The second tour

Captain Beefheart found himself in an unusual predicament in 1968: after signing with a new label and just weeks away from embarking on a world tour, his band suddenly quit unexpectedly, and in a panic, he assembled an entirely new group with no knowledge or experience in playing his genre of music. From these sessions emerged the 25th Century Quaker album as well as numerous tours; unfortunately, due to this chaos, many songs never found full expression during rehearsal sessions and tours.

This set was an eclectic one, including leftovers (Stink-Foot, Montana), weird abstract poetry (Mr. X, Sam with the Showing Scalp Flat Top), wild jazz-rock jams (Pound for a Brown), and crazy blues jams (Advance Romance). They even performed one of their signature encores: an unforgettable rendition of Willie the Pimp!

Beefheart spent much of this period still trying to develop his musical language, drawing inspiration from varied sources like children’s nursery rhymes, Van Gogh paintings, and Mozart/Beethoven symphonies. Furthermore, he continually experimented with various approaches to improvisation with the aim of making his music feel as natural and spontaneous as possible.

During this period, the band also started hosting post-show discussions to allow their audiences to ask questions and interact with the band members directly. FZk usually took charge, although sometimes George and Captain joined him for conversations as well. These dialogues provided great insights into both their mindset as musicians as well as the creative processes that went into creating music.

The third tour

The Magic Band are at a crucial turning point in their careers. After touring Europe and performing at Cannes Beach, they return home with fresh material and plans for a record deal with MGM Records. New members, drummer Artie Trip and bassist Zoot Horn Rollo bring added rhythmic creativity and imagination to the group’s sound.

Beefheart may have grown disillusioned with the music business, yet his creativity remains prolific. His closets at home contain thousands of poems and five unpublished novels he never published; his 1969 album Trout Mask Replica cemented this reputation as rock’s most unconventional artist.

As with many creative people, he struggles to adapt to the demands of the traditional music industry. While his qualities as an outstanding poet and composer make him exceptional at their craft, these same qualities also lead him to distrust those who try to control his creative expression.

On one occasion, his vocal on “Electricity” caused so much destruction of a Telefunken microphone that it literally burst, providing a warning against those trying to control his art.

This tour features a mix of classics and new songs, including Montana, Florentine Pogen, and Willie the Pimp – as well as notable guest musicians joining them for an interactive jam session of various themes.

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band provide an amazing setlist and show. Fans should not miss this concert!

The fourth tour

This show is absolutely fantastic and features one of the best sets from Captain Beefheart’s tour. His band plays some incredible music; any fan should listen carefully! This recording should not be missed!

This show was much more extensive and livelier than previous tours; the sound quality was not entirely up to par, but it was still an incredible performance to listen to. The opening band, The New York Dolls, were fantastic; their set began with Echidna’s Arf and Don’t Ever Wash That Thing before performing Mothers Of Invention poetry songs such as Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top and Straight No Chaser before doing an interesting take of Trout Mask Replica that included drum slapping while guitar player played a distorted sounding riff.

Next came a rock version of Safe As Milk from Dracula, which is always an entertaining track to hear live. They then performed an instrumental version of Mirror Man that differed significantly from its studio rendition – and this rendition proved far superior to its predecessors!

After that, they performed an enjoyable Montana with FZ’s solo. Next came their signature Advance Romance and Florentine Pogen numbers before closing with an unforgettable Willie The Pimp encore performance.

This tour was fantastic and was the highlight of their four. The Mothers Of Invention were at their peak, performing many great songs as well as exciting improvisations that went beyond their studio versions. Witnessing them live was truly enjoyable.