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.

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