Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Electric Wizard - The Scala 07/09/09

The Scala was absolutely crammed for this show, a solid mass of black t-shirts, beards and hair. Leccy Wizard have clearly picked up a lot of new fans since they resuscitated themdelfs in recent times, and deservedly so for theirs is a distinct sound, truly heavy, truly metal, smattered with basic fuck the world/worship the occult vocals and seventies guitar solos. But this distinction can act against them. They seem to have a template for writing tracks which they rarely deviate from and when they do stray too far from it the songs are noticeably weaker and fail to retain the essence of the band's sound, becoming less like a generic Electric Wizard track and more like a generic heavy metal track. It's a catch they've apparently failed to find a workaround for. They seem to be a band who've already written their perfect track in tonight's closer, Funeralopolis, and everything else is either a slightly weaker version of that or an unsuccessful attempt at something else.

Still, there's no denying that the band is heavy, and yeah maybe they are limited in range but fuck me they're good at what they do within that and they do it with conviction. There's no irony in Jus Oborn's sleeveless denim jacket's patches, and when he sticks his middle finger up at God before shredding he really means it, and I can feel it, and I can nod my head to it for an hour quite happily.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sunny Murray/John Edwards/Tony Bevan - The Vortex 01/09/09

I went along to The Vortex to see Sunny Murray because Sunny Murray is a stone cold jazz legend and that's a fact, Jack. Tonight he teamed up with double bass freak John Edwards and multi sax abuser Tony Bevan for a session of free and freaky improvisations. And it was fucking great.

Sunny plays drums with his face, it seems. Every convulsion of lip and twitch of eyebrow channels down through his limbs and hits a drum. And he doesn't stop moving his face. At quieter points you can hear him singing, and by instantaneous extension making the drums sing along. It's really something. Bevan and Edwards are both accomplished musicians in their own right and play their asses off in the company of this crazy old man. Three sets of beautiful madness that hit intense, screeching highs and descend into low swirling masses with slow bowed double bass and languorous deep sax tones that made me feel physically sick. In a good way.

Between the sets, Sunny upsets the white and uptight full house at The Vortex by asking for a joint and talking about the ghetto and AIDS and using the word nigger and all sorts of other shit most of it seemingly off the cuff out of context rambling interspersed with occasional thank yous. It was hilarious really, or I thought it was anyway, not least because of the nervous shuffling it elicited from the upper middle class fifty plus set that made up the vast majority of onlookers. Then he's off again on another excursion into unexplored territory, using his drums as a spaceship.

At one point he says 'I'd like to thank y'all for being here, because we're always together... exploring new things'. Well I'd like to thank Sunny for being there last night because it was fucking out there, a true blue trip and so damn refreshing. So thank you Sunny Murray, thank you for being a true creative. You're a bad motherfucker and I hope you live forever.

David Byrne: Playing the Building - The Roundhouse 08-31/08/09

Having missed out on this whilst in New York last year, I was really quite chuffed to find out that Byrne was bringing his installation to the only nice building in Camden, The Roundhouse. Despite my enthusiasm and the fact that it was on for a month, I nearly missed it anyway, only managing to drag myself there on the last day, twenty minutes before last entry. It wasn't really a gig, but there were people playing an instrument and that's good enough for me so here's a review of sorts.

Walking in to the room the first thing that struck me was how long the queue was to play the organ. See this blurry photo for evidence:

If you factor in that everyone who plays it goes on for about five minutes, that's a long wait. Maybe that's what I get for leaving it until the last day, or maybe the queue was like that everyday, I dunno, but I wasn't gonna wait. Besides, it soon becomes apparent that the building sounds pretty much the same regardless of who's playing it, which is to say, it sounds like a bunch of metallic clanging and whistling, sometimes quite pleasant, sometimes a bit jarring, but nothing particularly outstanding one way or the other.

Something that did catch my attention though - along with most of the people there - were the interpretive dancers who'd decided that this installation provided a perfect backdrop for acting like a loon. Swimming on the floor, climbing about on each other and looking basically like they're unhinged or tripping, but with that irritating flourish of foot, or wrist, or eyes that people seem to catch at drama school and add to every movement they make like some kind of ostentatious sickness. Look, here's a shitty video to illustrate that:

What a bunch of dickheads. Anyway enough from the distracting, prancing fuckwits, let's get back to the installation. The concept is interesting enough - wire up a building and play it like an instrument - I like that, it sounds like a fun thing to do, but in practice the whole thing just seemed a little underwhelming and I have to wonder quite how many people would give a shit about it and sing its praises if it didn't have David Byrne's name attached to it.

Maybe I'd like it a lot better if I got to play. Maybe I could give a fairer review. Maybe somehow I would magically have fallen in love with it. But I didn't get to play, and I didn't fall in love with it, so this is what you get. Another disaffected moan. Woohoo!