Tav Falco is the missing link between primitive rock n roll and the modern day Delta blues. It is a connection Falco has been forging for more than thirty years now, bridging entire continents and their very best traditions as he has done so. A contemporary of Alex Chilton, Lux Interior and Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the former resident of Memphis, Tennessee now lives in Vienna, Austria. Either side of the Atlantic, though, Falco has broken down the cultural barriers of art as he has merged the blues, country and rock n roll with his love of tango and the aesthetics of Expressionism and the Italian new wave. It is both an honour and a privilege to see him here in Leeds tonight.
Looking like a much older Michael Corleone, Falco exudes all the style, class and determination of Al Pacino’s character in The Godfather Trilogy without feeling the need for vengeance. He is flanked tonight, as he has been variously for more than four decades, by the Panther Burns. The current rock-steady incarnation of this really quite exquisite ballroom band exude similarly overblown cinematic characteristics to Falco, not just in their physical appearance – bassist Laurent Lanouzière resembles some mid-sixties Bond villain whilst exotic drummer Giovanna Pizzorno looks just like Dorothy Lamour in the Road to…movies – but also in the way that their music wholly convinces.
For two whole hours Tav Falco’s Panther Burns cook up a colossal musical stew. Though there is an undoubted relationship with the Gothic, the Parisian jazz age and the Río de la Plata – something that the 2010 album Conjurations: Séance For Deranged Lovers from which a number of this evening’s songs are taken, and an erotic tango between Falco and poet and performer Via Kali will confirm – this is essentially the sound of Memphis and it is to that city and the Southern states of America that Falco always returns for his core inspiration and innovation. And it is to there that he takes us tonight. It is a journey that will linger long in the memory.