Café Oto, London 19 February 2012
71 years old, and with the gravitas of a Prussian general contemplating one final glorious attack on Paris, free jazz saxophone legend Peter Brötzmann swings into Old London Town for a two night stand at Dalston’s Café Oto, E8’s achingly hip home of improvisation, experimentation and general squealing and freeping of every sort. Only a short hop, skip and jump from The Vortex, the difference between the audiences drawn by the two venues is immediately apparent: Oto-goers are a far more youthful and less beardy crowd than the elderly chin-strokers mostly present for a comparable event at The Vortex, an Evan Parker gig, say.
For a start it’s packed. And I mean packed. There must be 200 or more people squeezed in, standing behind pillars here, sitting on the floor there, and that’s unparalleled for improv gig like this. And there are youngsters! Without
Continue reading Peter Brötzmann (live at Café Oto) [...]
O2 British Music Experience 25 October 2011
I had never been to the O2 before, but had heard lots of horror stories about it. Apparently it had poor sound, bad visuals, over priced drinks, and terrible for people with vertigo. Luckily enough I was not headed for the main arena – that joy was to be for Cliff Richard’s blue rinse brigade – I was going to the smaller British Music Experience. As I wandered around the giant dome in search of the venue I was suddenly reminded of the domed city in Logan’s Run and half expected to see Sandmen running around. Somehow this futuristic setting seemed quite apt to see one of The Buggles’ very rare live performances as their music always had a sense of Sci-Fi about it.
Before the performance Geoffrey Downes and Trevor Horn did a Q&A, fielding
Continue reading The Buggles (live) [...]
The Borderline London 25 February 2011
“We are the survivors, the eternal survivors……”
This phrase may have crossed Nik Turner and the rest of his Space Ritual cohorts minds at some points over the years. But here they are still playing some of the best darn space rock this side of the Andromeda galaxy. Before I start reviewing the tracks played I must make a special mention about Terry Ollis, as the gods of rock’n’roll just don’t make drummers like that anymore. He uses the drum kit to its full potential and is sparing at the same time. He keeps the beat and adds dramatic fills that only drummers from a certain era knew how to do. It was fantastic to watch him and, yes, nowadays he does play fully clothed…..
Tonight there is no support band, just (over) two hours of
Continue reading Space Ritual (live) [...]
The Lexington, London 19 January 2011
It’s a red-light night tonight at The Lexington, north London’s finest whiskey bar and excellent venue to boot. Red décor and red lights make for a surreally-flattened visual experience, as if watching tonight’s bands during one of the more blood-soaked sections of Suspiria. But there’s no gothic horror show from Eat Lights, Become Lights - their take on psychedelic immersion is far more in the Düsseldorf tradition, as befits what is effectively Klub Motorik‘s house band.
Continue reading K-X-P/Eat Lights, Become Lights (live) [...]
The Scala, London 11 December 2010
The first time I saw The Orb play live was at the time of the release of their album Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. At that time the techno/ambient/trance scene was at an all-time high with a plethora of new bands using psychedelic images and pushing at making the underground become overground. The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” drifted through the spring and summer airwaves (well they did in my house), and their gig at The Fridge in Brixton was packed with sweaty dancing bodies.
Fast forward to 2010 and The Orb is a slightly different prospect. The gig tonight is only half full and I kept glancing around to see if there would be a final surge of people once The Orb hit the stage at 11.30. I’m not sure why there was a lack of people especially after their new album Metallic Spheres with
Continue reading The Orb (live) [...]
The Vortex Jazz Bar, London 27 September 2010
My view of this evening is tainted in about 200 different ways and as I haven’t drafted this review I don’t know what you’ll make of it but hang on a minute. I have to explain that when I was younger and more energetic and had more brain power with which to be creative I did used to review music; but after awhile I became bored of my own observations and felt I was often saying the same thing in an emotional way and not really reaching any points of information for the target audiences desiring the over analysis of technical something or anothers. To me writing reviews is work.
This gig is being held in
Continue reading The Black Twig Pickers (live) [...]
Rascals, Bangor 2 March 2010
For a supposed “Land of Song”, Wales has thrown up surprisingly few truly great musical mavericks over the years. Sure there’s been John Cale and David R. Edwards, and maybe Gruff Rhys and Brian Lustmord but that’s about it. It may then raise an eyebrow or two that despite her scant handful of releases to date, I wouldn’t hesitate to add relative newcomer Cate le Bon to that exclusive club.
I was taken by complete surprise last year when Le Bon followed up her lovely but largely conventional psych-folk 10” EP Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg with a remarkable debut album, Me Oh My. Its haunting songs avoided categorisation and elevated the album to my favourite and most played release of 2009 – and a serious contender for best of the decade. Having seen and increasingly enjoyed her in various support slots over the past
Continue reading Cate le Bon/Y Niwl (live) [...]
Koko, London 14 December 2009
The cavernous space of Koko, once known better in the days of music hall and indie rock dance club as the Camden Palace, turns out to be eminently suitable for hosting bands whose raison d’etre is shifting air pressure through the application of low end to the somewhat notoriously loud speakers of the PA. Koko may not exactly have the acoustics of a cathedral (or even the natural reverb of the Norwegian church which hosted SunnO)))‘s excellently immense live double LP Dømskirke), but the tiers of balconies also provide plentiful vantage points for the audience to get a full view – and earful – of
Continue reading SunnO))) (live at Koko) [...]
Islington Mill, Salford 8 December 2009
Ever vampiric, the avant-guard periodically replenishes itself on fresh blood in pastures new. Jazz, psych, prog, industrial and Dance have all fallen prey during the past half century, and now it’s the turn of that seemingly most reactionary of genres, metal. The signs had been there as far back as the early 90s, with the Melvins, Sleep and Earth all forging new routes away from rock clichédom without forsaking the initial visceral appeal of the genre, but SunnO))) have taken up the baton with a renewed sense of purpose. Guitarist Stephen O’Malley’s MySpace page reveals his musical influences to include Sun Ra, Iancu Dumitrescu, Mika Vainio, Keiji Haino, Steven Stapleton and Andrei Tarkovsky – this is most surely what we want from our rock gods.
After a decade of increasingly good albums, 2009 saw Sunn O))) release the astonishing Monoliths and Dimensions, an album
Continue reading SunnO)))/BJ Nilsen (live) [...]
The Forum, London 17 December 2009
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the Forum, not a creature was stirring apart from that seething, thronging mass of goths, punks, crusties and beardy CAMRA-men that only New Model Army seem to be able to unite into one celebratory whole. And they’ve been doing it for a while now. Next year sees their thirtieth anniversary tour… this year makes it two whole decades since I first became a fan, with a storming set at Reading Festival while touring Thunder And Consolation.
I have to admit, I’ve been living under a rock for a while and had somehow missed the release of the new album, though on the strength of tonight’s airing of most of it, it’s gonna be bloody good when I get round to hearing it. They’re certainly not resting on their laurels, even though they’ve earned them
Continue reading New Model Army (live) [...]
Casa Del Popolo, Montréal 16 September 2009
Another Alien8 extravaganza at Casa Del Popolo in Montréal: guaranteed visceral jiggling with nice folks who make confrontational music.
A panda bear stands behind a flower-strewn hill, arms aloft, beseeching a soldier. Rainbow beams explode from the bear’s mouth through the soldier’s torso. The contradictory poster for this Alien8 happening may have the candy-coloured hue of yesteryear’s psychedelia, but don’t expect a paisley love-in: inside the Casa, the music is heavier than a death in the family.
ThisQuietArmy (Eric Quach) combined my favourite sonic ingredients – loud, rumbling bass, heavy psychedelia and almost uncomfortably high-pitched sounds to wash over you. Architectural visuals matched the motion, adding to dreamy cinematic experience the sound suggests. Just as the drone meditation came to climax of stillness, the wall of sound began to
Continue reading ThisQuietArmy/Aun/Nadja (live) [...]
The Forum, London 9 October 2004
Having reincarnated with a new touring band as PTV3, Genesis P-Orridge returned to the London stage five years after his triumphant – if ultimately unsatisfying – Royal Festival Hall cocking of snooks and other no doubt pierced appendages (how does one pierce a cocked snook, exactly?) at the ravenous tabloids which had hounded him into Californian exile. Where that show had failed musically, at least as far as Psychic TV were concerned (check the DVD of the event for further evidence), it had worked on so many other levels: gloriously camp video introductions from the late Quentin Crisp; support sets from the fabulous Master Musicians Of Jajouka and Billy Childish being among other performance highlights; the thoroughly psychedelic atmosphere and lightshow; the strategic planning of the gig to take place both
Continue reading Psychic TV (live) [...]
The Forum, London 19 July 2004
It’s a point that’s already been made, I’m sure, but there’s at least something to be said for the otherwise abhorrent War Against Terror. Just look, or rather listen, to what’s going on. As well as the politicisation of once-apathetic masses, the already-politicised but seldom heard of Industrial Rock giants are all coming out to the barricades to chuck stuff. See the headlines – “NEW MINISTRY ALBUM NOT SHIT SHOCKER!”, “KMFDM INVADE BRITAIN AGAIN” and now even “SKINNY PUPPY FINALLY RETURN TO LONDON”.
Having bought tickets for their last (cancelled) London gig back in, ooh, 1990 or thereabouts, I have to say I was really quite excited about this, and like an excitable schoolgirl (albeit one who was into anguished shrieks and cut-up beats) prepared myself for the occasion with a couple of
Continue reading Skinny Puppy (live) [...]
LA2, London 8 July 2004
Digital Hardcore’s new signing, Panic DHH, seem to be the hot new thing on the Industrial circuit. Having managed to miss them thus far other than hearing their truly awesome album Panic Drives Human Herds, I had little idea what to expect. Would they be able to replicate the grinding “Skinny Puppy meets Ministry and they have a fight”sound of the studio? Would they be worth watching, or may I just as well stay at home?
Yes to the first, yes to the second, and a big “you gotta be fucking kidding!!!” to the third. Panic DHH live are a truly wonderful experience. Judging by the huge crowd they got (kind of large for a support band) and the amount of people who missed them (they played fairly early) and kept asking me “what were that support like then? I’ve heard they were supposed to
Continue reading KMFDM/Panic DHH (live) [...]
The Astoria, London 16 May 2004
Twenty-three years, man. Twenty-three (of course) years since (when I was way too small to appreciate this shit) the colossal monster of sound known as Throbbing Gristle last stomped its way through a live venue. The mission was terminated? or was it? Cut to NOW. A bunch of people, all of whom knew it was too good to be true that the legendary THROBBING FUCKING GRISTLE had overcome their differences and were actually headlining an entire fucking festival – at a holiday camp in Camber Sands, no less – had their hopes dashed as the whole event was cancelled two weeks before the scheduled date. But then? TG announced a one-off “live recording session” (I shouldn’t say “gig”, even though what transpired would prove me right?)
Continue reading Throbbing Gristle (live) [...]