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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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Senyawa (live at Café OTO)

London 17 October 2016

Senyawa live October 2016It’s going to be very difficult to describe Senyawa in words. What follows will probably contain muddled metaphors, chaotic similes, idiotic expostulations, expletives, wild imagery, desperate comparisons, upholstery by Zachery, knick-knackery by Thackery, Terpsichore by Dickery and dickery by Dock. Younger readers – or those of a nervous disposition – may want to look away now.

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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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The Master Musicians of Jajouka (live at The Barbican)

Milton Court Theatre, London 29 September 2016

Master Musicians Of Jajouka live September 2016A crucial international fixture, and Team Freq is in utter disarray: star striker Rodham-Heaps out of action, midfield playmaker Nickells injured (his silky skills laid low after a night of drinking at Acid Mothers Temple), and others all unavailable for selection. And so, in a bold decision, the Freqmanager1 decides to bring yours truly off the subs bench and into the starting line-up. Taking my inspiration from Ole ‘Super-Sub’ Solskjaer, my aim is to come on and change the course of the game decisively.

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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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Fort Process 2016

welcome to Fort Process 2016Newhaven Fort, East Sussex 3 September 2016

It sounded like bedlam from the car park, quickly replaced by some deranged Frenchman chucking stuff around the parade ground, his shouts and clattering, laptop-captured from the fortifications and spurted back in jabbering cut-ups. Welcome to Fort Process part deux, spun off in blaring megaphone, smashed metal, Dada antics that flew close to injuring the onlookers.

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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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The Orb (live at Electric Brixton)

London 29 July 2016

The Orb live at Electric BrixtonIn 1991, I waited in anticipation outside the Brixton Fridge (as it was known then) clutching my ticket waiting to see The Orb’s first ever live show, not really knowing quite what to expect. I had bought the double album of The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld and had devoured every second of it, its sounds sending me off on some strange cosmic voyage not really hinted at by a band since Tangerine Dream in the 1970s.

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Belly (live at O2 Academy)

Belly live in Bristol July 2016Bristol 20 July 2016

This was a hotly anticipated outing that didn’t disappoint. Belly were back for all the right reasons, including a bucket of cash the merch stall was obviously raking in.

It all kicked off on the full-on assault of “Dusted”. That gut-quaking bass, those weevil guitar curves all thrown in thunderous unison. Tanya‘s and Gail‘s vocals blasting the human flower. A beaming rainbow that had you shouting back the weirded-out lyrics about dead babies in cellars and the like. That chorus refrain carouseling your head in “Grass stains, back burns”, gyroscoped on the coloured wash of the lighting.

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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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Matmos / Adam Rosenblatt / UnicaZürn (live at The Lantern)

Bristol 9 June 2016

Matmos live at The LanternMatmos‘ new record Ultimate Care II is centred round a washing machine, and lo and behold that’s what is centre stage tonight at The Lantern, two microphones pointing at its innards. The rest of the stage is overrun with the band’s tech, squeezing the support UnicaZürn into the far reaches.

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Spirit Of Moondog (live at Black Box)

Münster 29 May 2016

Moondog steleIn a quiet and undisturbed corner of the Zentralfriedhof (Main Cemetery) in Münster, there stands an elegant, tapering stone stele, atop which is a death mask so wonderfully detailed and realistic it seems that the eyes might at any moment open slowly, like an image from Dennis Potter’s Cold Lazarus come to life beneath the blue Westfalen sky. Foregrounded against the thick green hedge behind it, and surrounded by a colourful riot of flowers, it is a beautiful spot. Here, amidst the birdsong and the obsessively well-tended greenery, lies American expatriate Louis Hardin, better known to the world by a moniker adopted in honour of his trusty, yet lunar-affected, hound: Moondog.

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Max Richter (live at The Barbican)

London 17 May 2016

This is the first of two sold-out shows for Max Richter at The Barbican and there is a buzz around the audience about how two beautiful and intense albums will translate live. For starters this is no rock’n’roll concert, so there is no-one viewing the entire gig down their phone, in fact no one even takes a photo, which was quite wonderful. The mood in the hall has a kind of beautiful, tranquil quality about it, as if people don’t want to make too much noise before the performance even starts.

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