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Morning Bride/Imogen/Carmen Rosa (live)

Amity (click for larger image) (pic: Ian Barratt)The Spitz, London 18th July 2005

A balmy, dirty London night finds me climbing the spiral at The Spitz to see Morning Bride solely for this review, or souly for my own pleasure. There is no way that humans can survive long in this heat, or so I imagine. It’s raining outside, a slow tease rain that isn’t going to refresh so much as make sure my fellow audience members smell damp on top of sweaty.

Ah well, The Spitz makes up one hundred fold for their lack of air quality with their super listening quality sound and an engineer who knows which knob does what. Another credit is that I have a little candlelit table, a feature of The Spitz. They don’t have enough of them, and I had to move mine to just the right spot, but

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Eddison Woods/Rothko (live at The Spitz)

London 24 March 2004

A bit like starting a notebook backwards, I rush in after taking a stupidly slow and expensive cab ride, barely in time to see the last beautiful few moments of Rothko. Theirs is a sound I can recognize from way down the stairs as I run up and through the doors. Frances Morgan‘s violin is good and loud tonight, like passioned crying — just as I feel a proper violin should be. It is not enough, these few minutes, and I am so sorry to have hit too much traffic. I wish they’d play again and just for me. Rothko’s music is always like this: lonely and dark and so soothingly gorgeous; very much like an unrequited night on one’s own. Others around me comment and I know I have missed out on an especially strong performance of Rothko’s most recent line up.

Now a craft

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Sigur Rós (live)

Mind Your Head Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

After a blazing performance by Coil, (which was, incidentally, their best yet which I’ve seen: completely charged with the energy one craves from Coil) I was not optimistic about seeing Sigur Ros, despite being a devoted lover of Agaetis Byrjun. Another example of a headliner being shown up by their “special guests”? Just goes to show how wonderful it is when expectations are low and surprise is at hand, for Sigur Rós delivered one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen.

There were eight of them in total, none of them looking as if they could have breached the 25 year old mark. I could not tell you a thing about their set list, as I had never heard most of the songs they played and couldn’t understand them if I knew the titles. Singing in what

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The Black Heart Procession/Simon Breed (live)

Pall A. Jenkins 93 Feet East, London 9 July 2001

Simon Breed“Bosses, They’re all cunts, pricks wankers and shits – does anyone here like their boss?” Well, those were similar words to the ones I muttered when Simon Breed nearly trampled me in his stampede to the bar pre-showtime. He was allegedly referring to his boss, or bosses in general. The same song also proclaimed him to sound like Bruce Springsteen, make what you will of that. The sound system is crap, there was a bug on the wall, and the bar on which I am trying to write is shifting constantly with a serious threat to collapsing. Not a good start really, but I will calm down and give it a chance.

I am here at 93 Feet

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Vincent Clarke and Martyn Ware – Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle

Label: Mute Format: CD

Vincent Clarke and Martyn Ware – Spectrum Pursuit VehicleVince Clarke of Erasure and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 could not be further from their ’80s adventures than they are here on this new venture. A gentle countdown leads into very soft Ambient electronics just short of sounding New Age. The tracks are named after colours they represent and the CD is a recording of a whole event featuring colour spectrum experimentalism. Listening to the harpic spinning tones, colours are easily imagined even without the visual show and the piece as a whole is deliciously relaxing, calming, soothing. A colour wheel behind closed eyes is an accessilbe mental image, rotating pastels, swirling cloudlike whites. There are apparently very innovative technologies used to produce all this

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Icebreaker International/Appliance (live)

Icebreaker International @ The SpitzThe Spitz, London 7 June 2001 ApplianceThe Spitz tends to look different every time I go there. Tonight it is a late arrival just in time to see Appliance play their version of Krautrock-inspired Electronica. Projections on small screens around the room show Rand McNally maps of the Great Lakes areas of the US, Chicago Art Institute-like photos of fall/winter nature scenes, and stage backdrop of goldfish tank. Appliance seem to have a healthy loyal following here for support. The bloke on vocals has a nice singing voice and they range their own way into sounding a bit Jesus & Mary Chain; fuzzy, lightly motor-ish, but on the whole, uninspiring. I have got to face the million flight walk downstairs to the loo before Icebreaker International, which is not the easiest task,

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Acid Mothers Temple/Southall Riot (live at the Kosmische Club)

Acid Mothers TempleKosmische @ The Garage, London 31 May 2001

Acid Mothers TempleBeware all snow leopards; indeed all mammals were at risk of having their asses rocked Thursday at the Kosmische Club‘s presentation of Acid Mothers Temple. Once Southall Riot was done with their opening imitation of all that was Krautrock in a Nineties sort of style, all three chord-led and droney – and most of which I missed – Acid Mothers Temple strolled on, lit up and rawked out. An enthusiastic audience had to have been relieved by the breathing space afforded by the last minute manoeuvre to downstairs at The Garage, knowing that Upstairs would never have accommodated the sweating, grooving, smoking crowd, much less the band’s hair. You would never want to invite this group over for showers, unless your idea of fun is gathering hairballs from the drain,

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Current Ninety Three/Antony And The Johnsons (live)

The Bloomsbury Theatre, London 6-7th April 2001

Johanna ConstantineJohanna ConstantineJohanna Constantine

Antony And The JohnsonsPerhaps if Billie Holiday had received nuptial visits from the spirit of La Cage Aux Folles and produced an offspring, that might explain how the universe has been blessed with Antony Hegarty. Perfoming live for two nights in London in support of Current 93 and the David Tibet Show, Antony And The Johnsons provided us with a glimpse into the nature of that blessing. And like a book is always better than the movie, Antony live was far better than even the CDs would let on. He poured himself onto a stage before a bedazzled audience, swathed in pink chiffon, as elegant as an angel, and sang like a violin. With the most beautiful voice of all time, ethereal

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Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – No More Shall We Part

Label: Mute Format: CD, limited 2CD

No More Shall We Part - sleeve It occurs to me as I listen to this new effort by Nick Cave that I might like to have never heard of him. In fact I add up the years and it has been at least nineteen since I first did so. I think I have loved him ever since. No one is able to express such ugliness and cynicism in such a beautiful way. I am sure that he has been responsible in part for the viceral red-tinged view that I take on love and devotion. Always just one fine line between loving and loving to death. Always a proof in poetry that love and hate are nearly the same thing. That there is a matrimony between life and death which will almost never be denied by hope or

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Damo Suzuki’s Network/Rothko (live at The Scala)

London 21 March 2001

In tow with the usual Krautrock London posse I arrived at The Scala just in time to hear lots of talk about how a lot of people have not been here since it was a infamous cinema. Though I never saw it in its glory, the building is still impressive with its loads of marble and Art Deco swirly tiles not quite lost in the stripped-pine modern re-structure. Other talk in the grand foyer was about the nearly embarrassing quantity of people here to see the magnificent performers on hand. It was true, there was a significant lack of bodies present considering the even to be, but nevermind, the Scala is a big venue, and most crowds might seem small inside it.

RothkoThe nights music began with Rothko, a suprise to me and a pleasant one to say the least. The bass

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A Silver Mt. Zion (live)

The Union Chapel, London 21st January 2001

A Silver Mt. ZionBack at the Union Chapel for another of its most appropriate events, A Silver Mt. Zion playing their coolly Classical and most definitely Goth set from the album “He Has Left Us Alone But Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms”. Union Chapel being as it is the most gothic of venues sans the cobwebs and Halloween decoration set designs gave a perfect ambiance to the darkly macabre but without the make-up sounds of Silver Mt. Zion. This is Shelley-style gothick, romantic Frankenstein beauty hidden in monster sort, asexual and tragic to the last.

A big stand-up contrabass, two violins, one cello, a daunting piano and distorted guitar make the sounds that woo. In long dramatic pieces with arrangements recalling antique Baroque, the ensemble move consciously through gorgeous songs piqued with heart-pulling nuances.

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The Young Gods and guests (live)

15th Anniversary Show Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre, London 4th December 2000

As usual, I arrived at this show in a rush, a little late and with no idea of what to expect. Straight into complete darkness and tracked by lovely ambient sounds and an over-zealous usher trying to get me to take any seat as there were plenty available and filming was going on, so wandering about finding my assigned one was not desirable. Spacey, pretty, and drawn out, the atmospheric lilting of synths soothed me out of my disoriented fast pace while my eyes adjusted and took in the stage. Two banks of gear set up, one each on the right and left of the stage, engineered by non-descript-seeming men from The Young Gods under well-focussed spot lights provided this hypnotic ease and I settled in.

A lecture followed given by anthropologist Jeremy Narby concerning the similarities

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Sorrow/David Tibet (live)

The Underworld, London 2nd December 2000

What was supposed to be a World Serpent presents show with Sol Invictus, Sorrow, and Ostara turned out to be a lot less/more, depending on how you look at it. Due to illness, Tony Wakeford and Sol Invictus were forced to cancel, and due to lateness(my own), I missed seeing Ostara. I did arrive in time to catch the end of a set by some man called Joe, who I have yet to identify. His acoustic guitar and John Denver-ish lyrics seemed really very out of place and I wondered if it was someone’s idea of a fun joke to play on the black-clad, maquiage extrodinaire who had obviously come in search of the dark sonics which help mainline World Serpent.

To the pleasant shock of everybody, this guy Joe was suddenly joined onstage by none other than David Tibet and Michael Cashmore, and

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Suicide (live)

The Garage, London 25th November 2000

Martin Rev (Pic: Linus)Ahhh, poor Suicide… always just missing the boat but still trying to hitch a ride thirty years after Alan Vega claims to have coined the term “punk”. These guys are getting old now, and I must say I did feel a bit sorry for them tonight, faced with a boring as stiffs crowd and faint memories to go on.

Alan Vega (Pic: Olly)My sympathy was not needed really after all. Martin Rev and Alan Vega seemed to be having a time of their lives, happy to play about and remain undeterred from their purpose which was to play Rock and Roll. Perhaps they have mellowed; they have definitely dropped the pissed-off attitude. One wonders if the last two years since their most recent reformation has humbled them, or if the aging process has

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Bobby Conn/The Sex Hunter (live at the Shim Sham Club)

New Orleans 12 November 2000

The Sex HunterAgain, a third way around the world and this time for Bobby Conn. This is the Shim Sham Club, 615 Toulouse Street. A round of jokes on that one and 19,000 Heart Association convention goers available to egg it on (“Why are the French Navy’s bases on the Mediterranean like their sailor’s trousers? They are both Toulon and Toulouse…”). Other venues imitate this decor: shutters on real windows, glitter gold stage curtains, lesbian chic bathroom graffitti and the odd cobweb strung out over dark and ancient mirrors. The Amerikan accents are assaulting and this is a bit of Amerika with its own language. “Simmer down” means something here. No matter how hard I search the young faces for familiarity, I remember I am a stranger here.

To warm up the 30 odd audience is New Orleans (not so) boy

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