Went to a Thomas Lang Clinic last night..
And dear god, I nearly wept. What an experience.
To be honest, I was never a big Lang fan to begin with, but I still thought he was a fantastic drummer (Who doesn't?) and plus a mate of mine, who offered to drive, is Lang nut. Luckily, we got there pretty early, and managed to second row seats right in the middle, in a crowd of about 350+. First on was a man on his home turf, Dewie Young who played with his band, and he was fantastic. His band had a great jazzy/funk/fusion-y feel, and were all very accomplished musicians considering there wasn't a patch of facial hair in the bunch. Young grooved really hard and had some very tasty licks.
Next up was the winner of Mike Dolbear's 'Young Drummer Of the Year' award for 2006 James Birt. James played a short solo and along to some tracks of his. Great player, busting out some 32nd notes up and down toms. But as you would expect from a recognised young player, it was all a bit of a chops display, which isn't really my bag. Cool all the same, his Black Panther snare nearly destroyed my ears though.
Finally, was the cyborg himself, sporting a denim, sleeveless, fleece-lined jacket (?!) and some wrap-around shades, he was off. Starting with three newly composed tracks by himself, from the new DVD. All three were insane, it was almost hard to follow, so much going on. All three were some near metal/industrial type music, with some unexpectedly matched million pedal ostinato stuff. Thomas then went on to perform a solo for the best part of an hour - and he absolutely shredded that custom Designer X-Ray. I had no idea he was such an animal, he thrashes his cymbals, obviously not without technique, but it was one hell of an exciting display. His control over his limbs is unbelievable, until you see it in person. There were so many moments that just left my jaw on the ground, the most memorable for me, was one groove where he played doubles at some ridiculous speed between his left hand on a piccolo snare and left foot on a 'floor' marching snare. He then went on to do some 8th patterns with his right hand on some x-hats, and then added a backbeat with his right foot doing some patterns on his main kick, while the left was still going.
Post one (of two) standing ovation(s), he answered a few questions. The usual cropped up, he talked about his influences, and then of course the immortal question, 'Mr Lang..what about your foot technique?' and he was off, for about half an hour discussing it, great stuff. Now short of time, Thomas played 2 more songs, one up tempo metal number (blast beats and everything) and one 'schnappy' layered groove number, aptly named 'Layer Cake'. And that was it, he left the stage humbly and everyone just cheered/screamed in awe.
I certainly left that building a huge Lang fan. While I considered most his playing a little too mechanical for my ears on video or record, watching him live is a completely different story. His controlled power and ability just made the room explode. I have never seen anything like it, he is amazing in the truest sense of the word. I couldn't justify his playing here, I can only urge you to go along to see one of his clinics. Overall, it was one of the best I have ever been to, down to his amazing display of independence (Definitely not human), technique, speed, power and great character when it came to teaching.
The best moment of the evening, however, was during the Q&A - where some guy asked (Lang is pretty ripped..but you would be too, with his practice regime) 'How much do you bench?'
Thomas replied 'I don't bench, I'm just genetically blessed.'
*Pictures to come, hopefully..