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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 80 - 04/16/03

Justin Sullivan & Friends
Nighttown, Rotterdam, 05.02.2003

It was the warm up show for the tour, which is still running along the spring, and through out a lot of places they haven't been for a long time and others that's happening for the very first time like in Latvia and Estonia. As for the starters: it's highly recommended that you visit the New Model Army's homepage and look the gigs calendar, where you will find the needed information for Mr. JS's solo activities and be lucky that they will be near you still this season.

The occasion was also to present in a premiere to the public songs from the last solo work, promoting the recent release, Navigating by the Stars, which the singles review you may have read in the previous Luna Kafé issue. When writing about a gig, first, one has to appreciate the artist previously or has to know sufficiently about in advance. It seems to be the obviousness but to have to write after going only out of curiosity and mainly to end not considering the performance properly is what frustrated journalists of the showbiz use to do, having the job more as an obligation without pleasure that any few honesty in the words. In the present case, talk about the artistic trajectory of Justin Sullivan, it's very clean that you will see extremes of articles about him written with a sometimes unavoidable admiration, sometimes slipping to fan's passion and others that simply distillates an incomprehensive disregard, a hunger in criticizing others gratuitously, assuming that this is the way of being the next cool thing.

So here go some comments of the gig itself. Is it another of the praiseful kind? Certainly not the opposite, otherwise, why a whole effort to transform such cine-cene-sinestesical experience of witnessing Justin heading the rudder in only a bunch of organized letters? Focused in a way to give a felling for the ones who may know New Model Army but never had the opportunity to check a real life show. Also to others who went to at least one NMA concert but never entered a JS solo act before.

A too simply way to describe is saying that it's about a acoustical version of NMA: all the 3 guys playing belonging to its lineup, its hit songs done in a less electrical manner, the same dedicated behaviour on stage. But remember that New Model Army has its acoustic share in its roots and far before any MTV's hype of unplugged sessions. And if the tendency is supposing a raw thing, a more power-trio spirit because of the absence in terms of the amplitude of instruments and recourses the full band could provide, this is also only in part true. Justin Sullivan decision to make a side project without involving all 5 members is not new also. He's been doing this for a long time too, when touring with the entire troupe is unviable. Perhaps is recently settled in a more formal issue. And aware that the musicality he searched for was something beyond the NMA limits. This is also a quest for perpetuation of his artistic heritage, in which he can be more flexible and do what he loves the most, being on tour, communicating with a diversity of people, environments and composing new songs on the road. Moreover, the feedback received for doing this manner is showing that he succeeded amazingly.

Among the audience, no matter where, there is this sort of consensus that most of songs become even more intense and... how does he make great music even more beautiful? No need of special features, basically the sound. Only pale light from candles, instead of stroboscopic effects. The ambiance makes the audience turning to silence and getting in the mood. It's some expertise few artists can reach. Mr. Sullivan surely does.

In an unusual "not that cold" night still in the winter end, city of the largest world harbour, JS and his friends started in a "boat" called El Capitan to cruise Europe. The crowd, very peaceful and attentive, formed by many that usually likes to be around the venue hours in advance for cheering up at the pub and would be following the sailors for some next dates, had an always generous set list- plus two "encores"- performed in a indeed, at least strong as NMA, presentation. Waiting the good winds to bring them back for anchoring at some more places near all of us again and again. Navigating by the stars is about it too anyway.

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