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Review Sun May 11 2014
Television was somewhat of an outlier when they burst onto the New York punk scene in the mid-1970s. Rich guitaring was at the forefront of their sound, and it wasn't uncommon for "jazz" to pop up in reviews about their music. In some ways, they could be seen as punk's Grateful Dead. And that was certainly on display at Metro on Thursday. Unfortunately, some of the meandering improvisation that comes with Grateful Dead territory plagued segments of the 90-minute set.
Technically, they were very strong with founder Tom Verlaine and Jimmy Rip putting on a clinic between their guitaring precision. But a ton of time was spent on general noodling that eventually lost swaths of the audience. (I'm looking at you, "Persia.") And a band who came to prominence in the mid-70s doesn't exactly draw a crowd with short attention spans, so losing some people who've waited decades to see them live was a feat.
However, when they ran hot ("Little Johnny Jewel", "Marquee Moon", "Friction"), they sounded fresh and vibrant. Age was not at all a factor with their musicianship, even if Verlaine did need a solid crowd assist to fill in the "See No Evil" chorus. But you don't see Television to hear them sing. You see them because they created some fascinating tunes. And when they were locked in, there was no denying the strength of their music and why people continue to be captivated by it.