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Kawabata Makoto and Pikacyu / Téléplasmiste (live at The Islington)

London 12 August 2017

Téléplasmiste live August 2017Téléplasmiste appeared through the crowd, all leper bells and bagpipes, before standing behind their modular bookcases like spiritual telephonists bending a self-help guru’s words into slurring stutters

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Acid King / Alunah (live at The Black Heart)

London 27 July 2017

Acid King live July 2017Our Black Heart, on a dingy sidestreet in the middle of Camden, is rapidly becoming one of the capital’s finest purveyors of underground heavy music. Not only does it once a year double as the command centre for Desertfest‘s weekend-long celebration of all that is doomy and stoned

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy / London Sacred Harp (live at the Union Chapel)

London 27 July 2017

Bonnie Prince Billy live July 2017Growing up in North Carolina with a fair amount of Baptist and other mountain church influence, I have been no stranger to shape note, or square hymn singing. It’s a strange old thing which the London Sacred Harp group has perfected for the here and now.

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Bristol Psych Fest IV

Trinity Community Arts, Bristol 8 July 2017

The Evil Usses live at Bristol Psych Fest IVOn a roasting Saturday, a beautiful day in July, the wonderful Trinity Arts community centre hosted the juggernaut that was the fourth Bristol Psych Fest. Squeezing two dozen bands into one day on two stages was quite a feat to attempt, but seemed to go incredibly smoothly.

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Kraftwerk (live at the Royal Albert Hall)

London 22 June 2017

Kraftwerk live June 2017Hindsight can be a famously cruel opponent.

On the freezing New Year’s Eve of 1961, The Beatles drove all the way down to London from their native Liverpool amidst swirling snowstorms and treacherous roads. The following day, whilst the nation sipped delicately at some Alka-Seltzer and nursed its collective sore head, The Fab Four fired up their Vox amplifiers

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Blood Ceremony / Steak (live at The Garage)

London 14 June 2017

Blood Ceremony live June 2017‘Are you going to see Kings X?’, the guy in the pub says to me.

‘No, I’m going to see a band called Blood Ceremony at The Garage’, I reply.

‘They sound a bit weird to me, mate’; and with that he shuffles off, pint in hand.

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Swans / Little Annie (live at Trinity Community Arts)

Bristol 26 May 2017

Little Annie live May 2017The stage may have dwarfed her stature, but Little Annie‘s cabaret queen antics were larger than life, completely over-spilling the place. Cloaked in Eastern silk, her waist a blaze of African bracelets, Annie’s hoarse vocal was something to be treasured – both warm and vibrant, bursting with wit

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Marc Ribot live at Café OTO

London 11 May 2017

Marc Ribot live May 2017There’s a scene towards the end of John Carpenter’s turbo-charged 1982 creature feature The Thing when the titular metamorph – just before being blown to shit by Kurt Russell’s vengeful sticks of dynamite – writhes and transmutes in all its slimy, gory glory.

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Damo Suzuki / The Cube Orchestra/ Agathe Max (live at The Exchange)

Bristol 12 May 2017

Damo Suzuki live May 2017French violinist Agathe Max warmed things up with a stunning set of looped riches, her bow floating with the gymnastic gait of a trapeze artist as she filled the canvas with different textures and tonal depths.

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Einstürzende Neubauten (live at The Forum)

London 4 May 2017

Einstürzende Neubauten live May 2017Einstürzende Neubauten are a band very close to my heart — indeed, they reside in tattoo form on my left arm, so it’s literally a matter of inches. So I am delighted when, having given up on seeing what’s billed as a Greatest Hits set due to lack of funds, I find out at the last minute that I’ve been assigned to cover it for this esteemed organ (no giggling at the back).

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Desertfest 2017

London 28-30 April 2017

Friday

Vodun at Desertfest 2017

GP: It’s the one date on my calendar that I look forward to each year. Three days of having my ears pummelled by some of the heaviest bands around and a chance to see some artists perform in the UK for the first time, this is Desertfest. Across five venues in three days, Desertfest takes over Camden Town with heavy guitars and an audience with more long hair and beards than you would see in an average Viking film.

Every year the event seems to get larger and attract more and more people; this year the large cavernous space of The Roundhouse is one of the venues. Each time, the organization that goes into hosting the event gets better, even though it gets bigger. It

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Thor & Friends / Kite Base (live at The Lexington)

London 2 May 2017

What makes the difference between just another gig and a profoundly uplifting experience? This is the question that I am left pondering in the wake of Thor Harris‘s (erstwhile Swans) percussion and noise collective Thor & Friends show at The Lexington last night.

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Flowers Must Die / Saddar Bazaar / Stereocilia (live at The Cube)

Bristol 28 April 2017

Flowers Must Die live April 2017Stereocilia‘s haunted ambience has been hooking me in for some time now, the cinematic scope of his recent LP was blinding, but tonight’s show just blew me clean away.

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The Bug vs Earth / Bong (live at Heaven)

London 12 April 2017

The Bug vs Earth live April 2017Belinda Carlisle was right when she said “Heaven is a place on Earth”. David Byrne, however, despite the superiority of his recorded output, was wrong when he said “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”. Although he was KIND of closer to the money when he said “the band in Heaven play my favourite song, play it one more time, play it all night long”.

Because first up on the bill tonight at Heaven are Bong, a band I have never heard, but from their name and seeing them as they come on stage, I am reliably ensured by my own experience that I will like them.

And yes. Some high fantasy stuff declaimed at the start, amps cranked up to

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Mayhem / Dragged Into Sunlight (live at the Electric Ballroom)

London 29 March 2017

Mayhem live March 2017In the early ’90s, the Norwegian metal scene was a scary place to be. Church burnings, murders, violent assaults and a total refusal to take metal’s Hammer movie schtick as anything other than deadly serious mean that anything written about the era is as much true crime as it is musical history.

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