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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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Wardruna – Runaljod: Ragnarok

By Norse

Wardruna - Runaljod: RagnarokWadruna are something pretty unique in the world of extreme music. Formed in 2003 by Gorgoroth‘s Einar Selvik, they are possibly the truest expression of all things Norse currently available in popular music form. A million miles from the awesomely campy Viking histrionics of Turisas, Wardruna offer a far more measured, esoteric and respectful take on Nordic history and culture.

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Nick Cave – One More Time With Feeling

Bad Seed

Nick Cave - One More Time With FeelingOne More Time With Feeling was designed to ideally be watched before Skeleton Tree was released; so to watch it for the first time now, after living with that raw, naked and shivering mass of beauty and heartbreak is, clearly, a very different experience than that originally intended. But I don’t think that makes it any less powerful a film in its own right.

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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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Before Victoria / B-Movie Romance / Martha Makes Mistakes (live at The Islington)

Before Victoria live October 2016

London 21 October 2016

As the nights draw in in Old London Town, it seems everyone’s ill. The photographer, the replacement photographer, half the musicians… but that’s not going to stop anyone having a raucous old time at the debut live showing of Marc Burrows‘s Regency-punk outfit Before Victoria in a small though tastefully-appointed venue at the back of The Islington pub in, well, Islington.

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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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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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Luke Haines – Smash The System

Cherry Red

Luke Haines - Smash The SystemI must admit to having come late to Luke Haines. I managed to avoid Britpop almost entirely for reasons largely connected to booze, drugs and industrial rock, but my vague memory of the whole era is one of a terrible national mistake from which only Haines and Jarvis Cocker appear to have emerged with any semblance of dignity. Recent years have seen me falling in love with Black Box Recorder‘s almost-Ballardian dreampop perfection, so it’s with genuine curiosity that I approached his latest solo effort, Smash The System.

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Dangerous Men

Drafthouse / MVD

Dangerous MenJohn Rad‘s Dangerous Men is probably, unfortunately for me, review-proof. Made on a shoestring by Rad, an Iranian who moved to America literally 24 hours before Khomeini got in and — understandably — decided not to go back, it’s a crazy slice of slam-bang crime action, and it may just be the Deadly Premonition of moves when it comes to asking “is it any good?”

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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Bad Seed

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Skeleton TreeIt will cause no great controversy if I say that Nick Cave has been writing about love and death for most of his career. If The Birthday Party were the gleeful rictus grin of the Grim Reaper, then later work with the Bad Seeds saw him embrace grief as a response, rather than savage laughter.

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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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Asschapel – Total Destruction (1999-2006)

Southern Lord

Asschapel - Total Destruction“Goooing to the chapel and we’re… gooonna get- wait, we’re gonna get WHAT???”

Asschapel. They’re called Asschapel. Which is the best name for a band ever. And Southern Lord have just reissued their entire back catalogue. And, as befitting a band called Asschapel and a label with the rep of Southern Lord, it’s heavy as fuck.

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