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Michael Gira / Thurston Moore / Laura Cannell (live at Saisonscape)

The Barbican, London 30 March 2016

Saisonscape March 2016Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder what this thing at The Barbican is? Well wonder no more; it’s called Saisonscape, and it’s a series of concerts which have been organised by Art Assembly‘s Julia Dempsey to celebrate the idea of growth, renewal and the creation of new life in an artistic context. That all sounds quite heavy, but for tonight’s concert she’s chosen musicians who play set pieces but allow themselves room for improvisation to illustrate the theme.

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Enslaved / Skuggsja / Wardruna (live at By Norse)

Wardruna live at By Norse 2016The Coronet, London 19 March 2016

Saturday night in Elephant and Castle and the queue is round the block. Almost literally. Due to the sad state of the beloved Shepherds Bush Empire, tonight’s entry in the mythic By Norse canon has been shifted to The Coronet, a converted cinema and nightclub whose security conditions for entry are of the stringent type that works just fine if you’re a club and people are showing up five or six at a time, but tends to grind to a (really fucking cold) halt if you’re putting on a gig and the whole crowd have shown up at once.

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Purson / Crosa Rosa (live at The 100 Club)

Purson live at the 100 Club March 2016

London 16 March 2016

I had not been to the 100 Club in many years, so had forgotten what a strange space it is. The fact that the stage is put against a side wall so there is actually more standing space either side of than in front of it is kind of odd. But in the end none of this mattered as I was there to witness Purson play again, and this band would be great wherever they performed.

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Mugstar / Henge (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Electrowerkz, London 26 February 2016

Visiting London’s Electrowerkz in 2016 after spending far too many nights here at the legendary Slimelight in the ’90s is a singularly disorienting experience. It’s the same building, but where once there stood a dingy warehouse now stands an actual venue, even though they’re the same bricks in the same places. Indeed, it’s so disorienting that we may as well be on all the drugs we were twenty-odd years ago, though these days there’s an actual bar and we stick to booze, being old.Henge live at Baba Yaga's Hut February 2016

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Drew McDowall / Helm (live at Café OTO)

London 3 February 2016

Analogue at Cafe OTO February 2016It’s all very restful really, sitting around at the front of OTO, bathed in the soft orange glow of the tea-lights scattered around the stage and sipping a cranberry juice. I’m trying to get my head around Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s recent tome on anti-fragility whilst awaiting the arrival of the “notoriously reclusive” Drew McDowall, one of the lesser-spotted denizens of the liminal zone staked out by his erstwhile collaborators Coil, when suddenly the guy sitting next to me strikes up a conversation.

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Fields Of The Nephilim / Black Volition (live at The Forum)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum December 2015London 21 December 2015

Having been unceremoniously shunted from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (due to what is officially known as “structural weaknesses” but which I personally suspect may be closer to “some bastard wants to make some luxury flats”, Fields Of The Nephilim are tonight gracing The Forum with their presence. The date’s also been changed, which is undoubtedly a right bastard for people who can’t change their plans, but which on the plus side means they’re playing on the winter solstice, which is pretty much the perfect time of year for a Nephs gig.

And they’ve brought friends. And what wildly eclectic friends they are. Black Volition are confusing, confounding, and rather wonderful. They start off kinda Bauhausy, playing

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Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats / Spiders (live at The Scala)

Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats live November 2015London 26 November 2015

This keeps on happening at the moment: two great gigs are on the same night. A couple of weeks back it was Graveyard versus Pentagram and tonight it’s Uncle Acid versus Om. It says a lot about the exponential growth of the doom/stoner/occult rock scene in the last couple of years that these two shows could coexist with each other on the same night in fairly large venues and both of them be sold out.

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High On Fire / Bask (live at The Scala)

London 12 November 2015

It was my friend Lee Nite who first played me an album by High On Fire. I knew and loved Sleep’s work, but had kind of considered that HOF’s sound was a little too fast for my doom/stoner rock ears. He slipped on their first album and said something like “this is fucking brutal and psychedelic”. And he was right (as with most of the things he played me); my musical world atlas shifted a bit in its orbit and suddenly High On Fire made sense and I had to get the album. Then we saw them at the Camden Underworld and I was once again worshipping at the altar of Matt Pike.

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Half Man Half Biscuit (live at The Forum)

London 15 October 2015

OK, I’ll start with the controversial part, just so as I can get that out of the way and you can decide for yourself whether you want to read any further in this review. Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit, for anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, is one of the finest living British lyricists currently working. New Model Army‘s Justin Sullivan‘s another, and you could also add The The‘s reclusive genius Matt Johnson, if you could go back in time to the last time he released any songs. Some people would argue Morrissey, but again you’d have to go back in time to the last time he was producing quality work and wasn’t being a twat, which is… hmm… quite a long time ago.

Half Man Half Biscuit live October 2015Half Man Half Biscuit (live at The Forum) […]

Ufomammut / Jex Thoth (live at O2 Academy Islington)

Ufomammut live October 2015

London 9 October 2015

October is the month of Samhain where the boundaries between other worlds and our own is at its thinnest. It is the time of ancient occult rituals to the ancestors and a sign that year is slowly crawling to its end. While the autumnal sun shine hangs in the air the creeping nights have more than a hint of chill to them. It is the perfect time of year for two great occult/psych rock bands to revisit the capital.

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / Brian Damage and Crystal (live at The Barfly) / Not Your Typical Victorians

London 10 September 2015

Sold out, The Barfly is pretty rammed tonight with the by-now-traditional rabble of goths, rockers and punks both steam and… erm… the other kind. For tonight is the launch of The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing‘s third and latest album, Not Your Typical Victorians.

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George Clinton & Funkadelic (live at The Electric Ballroom)

London 7 August 2015

It’s a balmy Friday night in old London Town, and the Mothership has just landed on Camden’s Electric Ballroom, bringing its message of light, love and lavatory humour in the form of George Clinton and Funkadelic. And godDAMN if he still isn’t the best pilot it could ever wish for.

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Acid Mothers Temple And The Cosmic Inferno (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

The Dome, London 3 July 2015

Okay, so here’s a thing. I don’t really remember ever seeing Acid Mothers Temple. I’ve seen them on various occasions, and I don’t really remember any of them. Now, I don’t make a conscious effort to indulge any more before an Acid Mothers Temple gig than I do before a show by anyone else, but somehow after the fact they always elude me, sliding apart into vague fragments like a dream does on waking.

Acid Mothers Temple at the Dome 2015

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Electric Wizard / The Cosmic Dead / Purson / Moss (live at The Roundhouse)

London 15 May 2015

Friday night at The Roundhouse, and the faithful are gathered for what promises to be a night of epic heaviness — four bands culminating with the mighty Electric Wizard are set to compete for our hearts, minds and ultimately, souls. However, due to a rubbish London Transport experience, I arrive when the first of them, Moss, are already half-way through their set. The two songs I catch, however, are immense.Moss Live at The Roundhouse 2015 -2Moss Live at The Roundhouse 2015Purson live at The Roundhouse 2015Electric Wizard / The Cosmic Dead / Purson / Moss (live at The Roundhouse) […]

Laibach (live at the Electric Ballroom)

Laibach Electric Ballroom 2015London 2 April 2015

A spectre is haunting Camden, and that spectre is the spectre of Spectre, Laibach‘s most recent and sublimely poppy album.

On the face of it, you’d think Laibach’s “foregrounding the totalitarianism inherent in pop music” schtick would have worn thin really fast, like a one-joke Damien Hirst piece that blows your head off at first and then gives you no real reason to go back to it. But after 35 years – and let’s not forget that’s three and a half decades which have seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of The War Against Terror and, closest to home for the band, the break-up of Yugoslavia – the novelty has yet to wear off.

This is, of course, for several

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