The way gigs come along sometimes meant I hadn’t been to NAC in what felt like quite a while but things panned out this week in such a way that this was my first visit of three to this wonderful venue within four days. I was introduced to the music of Tav Falco’s Panther Burns when I was lent an album in the early 1980s but never thought I’d get the chance for the live experience until a Red Rooster appearance a few years ago and to my knowledge this was the first Norwich gig.
Beast With a Gun were very excited to have this support slot and told of an epic hitch-hiking journey to see Tav Falco way back and how lucky we were to have this gig in the city of Norwich.
Due to some road closures on the A11 Tav Falco’s Panther Burns also endured a bit of an epic journey and had only recently arrived when I got to the venue and they were quickly soundchecking as the bar started to fill up. Things still ran pretty much to schedule though and the wonderful Beast With a Gun kicked things off at about 8:20pm throwing in one or two new ones including a cover. Always a great experience hearing this band and they sounded immense.
There was also some Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll taking place at the LCR on the same night for the visit of Primal Scream (a band very much inspired by Tav Falco: Bobby Gillespie, “Tav has long been a hero/inspiration to Primal Scream. A true master of rock and roll and a cultural ditch digger on the same level as the Cramps. Thanks for all the great music, Tav.”) but we had our own pretty generous helping of rock ‘n’ roll too at the NAC, albeit the crowd size may have suffered a bit from the unfortunate gig-clash. The set opened with the instrumental Apache before the charismatic Tav Falco drew us all closer to the stage. Looking dapper, sprightly and a nimble mover, appearing a good twenty years younger than his apparent 74 years of age and for a good ninety minutes or so we were treated to some great music. I’m fairly confident this was the only gig in the city featuring Chinese Rocks seguing into the Hawaii Five-O theme! If they were in any way fazed by the difficult journey they didn’t show it and put in a strong set which earned them two encores.
Raised in rural Arkansas, Tav Falco embarked on his long and distinguished musical career upon arriving in Memphis in the mid-1970s. Teaming up with local music legend Alex Chilton (The Box Tops/Big Star) in 1978, the duo formed the long-running and still active band Tav Falco’s Panther Burns. Panther Burns thrived on the early 1980s music circuit and were a popular draw at such storied NYC clubs as The Peppermint Lounge and Danceteria. Despite Chilton’s exit from the live lineup in 1984, Panther Burns carried on and the band’s current discography includes ten studio LPs and numerous EPs, live albums, and compilations.
Artists who have cited Panther Burns as an influence include the American alternative music acts Southern Culture on the Skids, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Jack Oblivian, and The Gories. In Europe, neo-psychedelic groups who have referenced Panther Burns include England’s Spacemen 3; Germany’s Cuban Rebel Girls (named after one of Falco’s original songs); France’s The Dum Dum Boys; Italy’s Time Machine; and Scotland’s Primal Scream. Says Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, “Tav has long been a hero/inspiration to Primal Scream. A true master of rock and roll and a cultural ditch digger on the same level as the Cramps. Thanks for all the great music, Tav.”
Equal parts primal rock ’n’ roll, hill country blues & avant-garde art, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns aren’t just music, but a state of mind.
Falco’s current album, Cabaret of Daggers, was released to fervent reviews in November 2018. Recorded in Rome, Falco is joined on Cabaret of Daggers by the latest incarnation of Panther Burns: musical director/producer/guitarist Mario Monterosso (Dale Watson, Red Mount Trio), pianist Francesco D’Agnolo, bassist Giuseppe Sangirardi and drummer Riccardo Colasante.
Tav Falco’s Panther Burns will be on tour throughout 2019.