Live At The Performance Center

Release Date: 12/18/2000 · Format: CD · Catalog-No:

“This concert was recorded on June 6th 1997, the eve of Rainer´s 46th birthday. He was in full remission and was sitting on top of the world. I can´t remember a time where he was more alive than that night. He played to a full and gracious house in a beautiful old church that was converted into a performing arts center in downtown Tucson. He had the foresight to record the evening professionally by Chris Eager...”, writes Rainer´s wife Patti in the linernotes of this album.

“Live At The Performance Center” is an incredible 75-minute showcase of the man´s talent and craft. He plays 20 songs, old and new, original material and some of the cover-versions that are familiar to fans (J.B. Lenoir, Billie Holiday, George Harrison, Greg Brown and Willie Nelson). With his typically intense vocals or just improvised and instrumental.

I saw Rainer play live only once, but like so many other people in the audience I was surprised, stunned and puzzled at once. “What is this guy doing?” was a question that everybody seemed to ask themselves, because off the stage came a sound-cascade that no human being with just two hands could create. Sure, this guy obviously was a master of his instrument, but two riffs and a solo at the same time??

The secret were two small ancient tape loop-boxes in front of him. He samples a riff, sampled another one, let them both roll and played solos on top of them. Stopped and started those two loops without missing a beat. Just marvellous.

There are quite a few songs that showcase this incredible technique, but there are also a few that just feature a minimalist approach, like “One Man Crusade”, with just a gentle dobro and his piercing voice.

“…sitting on top of the world”. With his “inner flame” radiating brightly.

“The death of Rainer Ptacek in 1997 robbed the world of one of its most gifted musicians, a modern bluesman whose work spoke with the haunting authority of the original country-blues masters. Recording in June of that year, while in remission from the brain tumour that would shortly claim his life, Rainer is captured at somewhere near the peak of his powers, surrounded by friends in a converted church in his home town of Tucson. Songs such as "Sometimes It's Hard" seem like unflinching commentaries on his own situation, with lines like "The only reason why we're here is to live away the pain"; but there's a grace and elegance to his National steel guitar work that transcends that pain, whether he's improvising around a few arpeggios on the "Improv In E", or hammering out a hypnotic two-chord riff on "The Mountain", his setting of the story of Mary and Joseph's flight into Egypt. He's particularly potent on the explosive power of love - "Love comes in the room and blows out the walls", as he puts it in "Inner Flame" - while the other-worldly quality of his work is perhaps best evoked in "The Farm" - "I feel like I'm growing radar/Receiving messages from out in the plains of Kansas". His slow, elegaic version of Willie Nelson's "Time Slips Away", meanwhile, is almost too painful to listen to.” (Andy Gill/The Independent)

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1. Improv In E
2. Sometimes It’s Hard
3. Round And Round
4. Powder Keg
5. My Honey
6. Inner Flame
7. Di Lantin
8. Lament Of Love
9. One Man Crusade
10. The Farm
11. The Mountain
12. Loosin Ground
13. River Of Real Time
14. Time Slips Away
15. Within You Without You
16. One Wrong Turn
17. God Bless The Child
19. Cheer Down
20. Long Way