Can’s Live Shows Will Be Heard at Last, Thanks to a Bootlegger in Big Pants

Schmidt feels that the Stuttgart gig is a good example of Can’s stage interplay. On the second track, Czukay begins the bass line from “Bel Air” but the melody ultimately drifts away when nobody joins in. “If we played something which reminded or was near to a song, somebody just came up with it all of a sudden,” Schmidt said. “It was sometimes sort of like a game. You threw something towards the other, and he picked it up, or he didn’t use it and threw it to somebody else. When it worked it was very beautiful and inspiring, even very amusing, using parts of what you have already done, but giving it a totally new direction.”

The band’s concerts were usually three hours long, comprising two 90-minute sets. For the live series, Schmidt plans to largely avoid single songs from different nights in favor of entire gigs, “which shows how we structured the set, how the flow was going, the feeling of a real concert,” he said.

Can’s improvisatory ethic did not always guarantee consistent results. “You can’t play like this onstage, giving yourself totally up to the atmosphere and to the moment spontaneously, without sometimes risking failure,” Schmidt explained. “There were of course also concerts which were horrible, really bad, because we played without any net.”

But even in the worst-case scenarios, there was still potential for magic. “Quite often, when the first set went terribly, people didn’t leave and the second set became really wonderful,” he said. “So the public sort of took part in our efforts to create. It was really like, if it didn’t work, they suffered like us, with us, and if it worked they enjoyed it like us.”

The next release will be from the Brighton, England, stop on the same 1975 tour, Schmidt said, but he hopes to feature earlier performances, including potentially a recently discovered 1970 German TV performance.

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