Photo Madeline McManus

John Cale and Band, Knife Girl

Tokoinranta, Eläintarhantie, 00530 Helsinki
Huvila Festival Tent

The Velvet Underground legend at Huvila

​​What does John Cale have that the rest of us don’t – some gene that results in extreme restlessness, a raging mind that is never happy? For nearly 60 years, he has been reinventing his music with dazzling precision and inspiration – ever since he was a young Welshman who moved to New York and founded The Velvet Underground. 

The Velvet Underground alone changed everything people used to think about rock music. At the same time, Cale also created ecstatic viola drone music and played with La Monte Young’s ground-breaking avant-garde ensemble, among others.

After The Velvet Underground, Cale produced several classic albums, including the revolutionary debut of The Stooges and the legendary album trilogy by Nico, another former member of The Velvet Underground. Around the same time in 1970, Cale began his solo career with one of his finest albums, the approachable singer-songwriter debut Vintage Violence. For his next album, Church of Anthrax, Cale collaborated with minimalist music pioneer Terry Riley. The experimental album was nearly completely instrumental. In a way, Cale’s first two albums defined the poles of his entire solo career. Even at its most approachable, Cale’s music has a morbidly sharp edge; and even at his most experimental, he is not hard to grasp.

Cale’s diverse solo production includes pearls like the chamber folk album Paris 1919 (1973), often considered one of the best albums in the world, the edgier Fear (1974), the art rock album Music For A New Society (1982), Songs For Drella (1990), a collaboration with his former bandmate Lou Reed, and Mercy, released earlier this year. Having worked with a variety of different artists over the years, Cale’s new album features collaborations with a whole host of interesting contemporary musicians: Weyes Blood, Animal Collective, Actress and Sylvan Esso.

Opening the evening is the unique Knife Girl – an artist that has despite their young age already made a fantastic journey from a self-taught electronic music talent whose songs have millions of streams to a full-blooded indie pop artist who has also been nominated for an Emma Award.