Monday, 12 October 2009

Broadcast/The Caretaker/Thomas Ankersmit - The Vortex 11/10/09

The second of the Wire magazine's Into the Vortex nights started with Thomas Ankersmit who I've never heard of before. His set went like this: manic screeching and steam sounds like trains braking hard on their rails, then calm and high, then drone with sax and drool. Having a mental breakdown. It was great. There was a seriously long line of drool from his sax mouthpiece almost down to the floor from all the circular breathing he was doing. Drone sax. Very nice.

The Caretaker hid himself away in the corner - rather effectively considering the size of his hairstyle, a large frizzy bulb - and hit play on his laptop. I don't know if he did anything else but then I don't know what else he could be expected to do with his music. Last time I saw him play was as V/VM where he had a discman which he just played along to with an inflatable guitar and a rubber chicken mask over his head. I guess that kind of performance would jar a little with the nature of The Caretaker material, but he still managed to fit in a cheeky pisstake, allowing his languorous set to stretch out to what seemed like an ending already overdue and leaving just enough pause before starting a whole other section. Much of the room sighed, some laughed, including myself, but really it's music that requires a lengthy listen, so in that respect this was one thing he could affect live. I like The Caretaker's stuff and I understand the concept behind it but it's better suited to solo listening, at night, at home, the exact opposite of this packed out daytime jazzbar. Still, it was as enjoyable as could be expected I suppose.

Broadcast were supposed to be on some hot shit new direction and playing along to a film so I thought hey I'll give them a chance seeing as I haven't listened to them for a decade so I did, I gave them a chance and I watched the whole set, the video was uninspired, dull and hackneyed and the music really suited it. At its best it was inoffensive, at its worst, twee.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Richard Youngs w/ Heather Leigh Murray/Astral Social Club/The Skaters - The Vortex 09/10/09

I'm so behind on these reviews I'm gonna try and speed through them, drawing on my fast fading memories to paint what will probably amount to a not very accurate portrayal of events. This is my gig blog though and the only people who read it are me (when I'm trying to remember whether I liked a band) and people who search for themselves on the internet, so if you're offended it's probably because you're insecure about your abilities as an artist. Feel free to leave a comment backing that theory up. That said let's get on with some quickfire reviewing.

Richard Youngs w/ Heather Leigh Murray was great, frankly. A swirling dual guitar noise gradually giving way to duel repeated vocals, chanting no lights on over and over, or something like that. I'll check it in a minute, it's details like that that really set one apart from the lazy bloggers. I liked it, whatever it was they said. I'm writing this in March so I don't have too much to add really. I remember them doing the vocal bit for ages and going past that point where it stops seeming like too long and starts getting better because it's so long. That's what I reckon anyway.

Astral Social Club played. Good old Nelly Campbell. He was great, he said something about pork pies and then he played a load of pedals and amps and little bits of kit and a microphone, I dunno, I wasn't really looking. He did some nice stuff with mic feedback, I recall. 'Little bits of kit', Jesus how vague can you get. So anyway I was really looking forward to seeing The Skaters but they didn't turn up I don't remember why, something to do with aeroplanes maybe, but so they put on Alex Tucker instead so I didn't bother staying.

Oh and I just tried to check the audio recording of Youngs and Leigh Murray but I think it's on an external hard drive and I dunno if it's plugged into the USB so sod it.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Magma/JP Massiera/Chrome Hoof - The Barbican 06/10/09

I'm gonna make this quick 'cause I'm playing catch up after neglecting this blog, the cogs of my everyday having had some horrible spanners thrown into them in the past couple o' months.

That's the way the cookie shits all over you.

The night before the gig I interviewed Stella Vander and the other, less hardcore, female singer whose name escapes me, and some guy whose role in the band was unclear (sound guy maybe, I dunno, maybe he was a fucking roadie, regardless he didn't say anything during the interview anyway, opting instead for watching sport on the tele of the bar of the hotel they were all staying in and which I went along to meet up with them, in) but vitally didn't interview Christian Vander which was disappointing but then I've a feeling he doesn't speak much English anyway. Whatever, a hugely cut down version of the interview can be found here.

So, the show, well Chrome Hoof were fine, their usual self, silver cloaked psychedelic disco funk, although notably leaving out the proper heavy metal section they usually play at the end of their set, perhaps due to worries about the timidity of the Barbican crowd, mostly comprised as it was of forty to fifty year old men with Dorito remnants in their faded Hawkwind t-shirts. At one point they dragged on a vaguely aware JP Massiera to a rendition of one of his old hooks and set him up with a microphone which he sort of moaned into (very) occasionally and a little sampler which he managed to turn off almost every time he touched it. After a while they dragged him off again, pretending he was unable to go on, in an all too believable display of theatrics. It didn't sound particularly good but it was easily the highlight of the set, shambolic old men being kind of innately entertaining in their own right.

Then woohoo Magma take to the stage. I've wanted to see Magma for fucking donkey's ears and tonight was finally the night and my god it was disappointing. There were moments where I thought things were going to kick off and Vander was gonna unleash his eight armed alien attack on the kit but no. It never happened. Far too much weak operatics, not enough cosmic war anthems. The new male vocalist had a curiously weak voice, offputting, sort of laughable but quite frankly upsetting, and he looked, as more than one of my friends put it: like an opera singer they'd tried to dress up as a rocker. Ripped off sleeves, bandana, the lot. And the way he and Stella sort of slinked off the podium down to centre stage was unnerving and also quickly became a cue that we were in for another tiresome bit of limp back and forth warbling. It wasn't all flaccid though, there was one particular track which was so hugely overblown and euphoric I'm pretty sure it's the music they play at extreme volume as you approach the giant pearly gates of heaven, only instead of feeling incredible you just burst out laughing because it's so fucking ridiculous.

Some positives. The vibes player seemed pretty cool, as did the new keyboard man who played a lovely solo keyboard bit at one point. Vander's vocals were amazing, but sparse, which made the new guy's shit voice all the more irritating in its ubiquity. Oh there I go lapsing back into negativity again, which is probably unfair. There were a few bits I really did enjoy, but maybe due to unrealistic expectations, or sitting in The Gods, the show overall just felt like a huge let down. Maybe it was the new material. Maybe they're just getting old. Maybe it's because it suddenly struck me halfway through that Stella Vander reminded me of my mother.

Well whatever it was, it wasn't much good.