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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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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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SunnO))) / Hildur Guðnadóttir (live at Convergence)

The Barbican, London 21 March 2017

SunnO))) live at Convergence 2017The tickets. We purchased them, they came. Who are they? Explorers in the further reaches of experience — demons to some, angels to others. We bought the tickets, they came. Now we must come with them and taste their pleasures.

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Wormrot / Afternoon Gentlemen / The Atrocity Exhibit (live at The Underworld)

London 23 February 2017

Wormrot live February 2017OK, so full disclosure — it’s been at least a decade since I went to a grindcore show. At least a decade; maybe two. So I’m coming at this with… if not “fresh”, then at least “renewed” eyes (if not ears). I’ve not been keeping up with the live scene, let’s put it that way.

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Boris / The Broken Oak Duet (live at The Electric Ballroom)

London 13 December 2016

Boris live Decemebr 2016 Boris are back! One of Japan’s finest rock bands are back in town to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their crossover hit album Pink, by… well, by playing it, obviously!

But first we get The Broken Oak Duet, who I don’t want to sound too mean about, because they kick out quite a noise between the two of them. They’re tight, focused and rock hard; their real problem is that they’re maybe a little TOO tight and focused — it’s all a bit precision-engineered.

They’ve got the technique and the discipline, but what they’re really lacking is some craziness and chaos. They’ve got all the riffs and big sound you could ask for, and would make a kick-ass

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / Andrew O’Neill (live at the O2 Academy Islington)

London 18 November 2016

Andrew O'Neill live November 2016

Men guitarist Andrew O’Neill opens the show, an amiable, affable presence beneath his comedy black metal goatskull backdrop. His is a fascinating cocktail of comedy — the gentle absurdism of an Eddie Izzard or Ross Noble shot through with a pitch-black streak and edged with a harder political sensibility, all filtered through the lens of Heavy Fucking Metal.

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Swans (live at Islington Assembly Rooms)

London 14 October 2016

Swans live October 2016Swans are a strange, beautiful and terrifying beast, a bit like that white royal waterfowl whose name escapes me but can break your arm with one beat of its mighty wing; but with shorter necks. And tonight sees the second of their London performances on the UK leg of what frontman Michael Gira says will be the last outing for their current incarnation.

So hopes are high, especially given his choice of splitting their London gig into two nights in a smaller venue, the intimate and alarmingly posh Islington Assembly Hall. Last time I saw them, at the Roundhouse, the size of the venue and some dodgy sound left me feeling faintly disappointed; although disappointment is a relative term

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Goat (live at The Coronet )

London 18 October 2016

Goat live October 2016“This is what happens when a band you love gets really popular”, my friend says to me as we enter The Coronet Theatre, which seems to be already bursting at the seams with people. The Coronet is an awkward venue anyway, with what seem like labyrinths of corridors in the building leading you to nowhere in particular, so trying to get to where you want to be can be a tad difficult.

And where I want to be at this moment is as close to the stage as possible

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Guitar Wolf / Atomic Suplex (live at The Dome)

Guitar Wolf live at The Dome October 2016London 7 October 2016

Atomic Suplex are in many way the ideal support band for Guitar Wolf, having seemingly followed them right into the gaping jaws and fuming exhausts of jet rock’n’roll.

A frontman with a pilot’s helmet complete with mic, decorated with the words ROCK and, of course, ROLL, some sleazy good-time boogie-woogie cranked up to eleven

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All Them Witches (live at The Scala)

London 4 October 2016

All Them Witches live at The Scala October 2016The Man Whose Head Expanded. Not in a good Mark E Smith kind of way, though. Oh no. Sadly not. In a kids-back-at-school, viral-laboratory, I’d-like-to-just-lie-down-in-this-ditch kind of way. Taking the bus down to The Scala, I wonder how long it will be until my eyeballs just pop out due to the pressure from my sinuses. But, Freq reviewers are hopefully made of sterner stuff, and so in a bravura display of stiff upper head, I marshal myself off the 73 and into the venue.

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Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO / Wooden Indian Burial Ground (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Acid Mothers Temple live September 2016Corsica Studios, London 29 September 2016

It’s the beginning of autumn and leaves are already starting to turn a darker shade on the trees and supermarkets are already trying to sell us Christmas fare three months early. It is also traditionally the time when the mighty Acid Mothers Temple decide to do their UK tour. Its almost as if its a yearly ritual to go to a small club in London, usually Corsica Studios, and have my ears pummelled by Japan’s finest.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor (live at The Coronet)

London 18 August 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor live August 2016 -2In a converted cinema in Elephant and Castle, protected from the outside world by the most stringent security this side of an airport, post-rock revolutionaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor are taking the stage. In darkness, of course, as is their wont.

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Fields Of The Nephilim / The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Forum: summer solstice 2016)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer Solstice

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer SolsticeLondon 20 June 2016

Over a quarter of a century ago, when I was much younger and prettier, I moved to London. The first weekend I was here I went to see Fields Of The Nephilim, who had just released the prog-goth epic Elizium. The support were a band called Creaming Jesus, a wickedly funny goth/metal band fronted by a dude with a world-class glare and a serious grudge against mike stands.

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Little Annie (live at Café OTO)

London 20 May 2016

Little Annie live at Café OTO May 2016Tonight, Matthew, Café OTO will be a smoky jazz club, only without the smoke due to it being 2016. It’s Ellroy for vapers, a healthier Lynch movie. Because tonight Little Annie is here delivering the latest instalment of her nearly forty-year career of eclectic awesomeness, on the back of her wonderful new album Trace. Accompanied by double-bass, understated drums, piano and sax, she takes the stage shrouded in a bright neon yellow scarf, and it’s this combination of the shrouding and the vivid colours that’s to typify the evening’s entertainment.

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