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Gong / Psigong / Andy Bole (live at The Garage)

London 28 November 2014

Gong live November 2014A few years ago, Daevid Allen unexpectedly reconstituted Gong with a new and (relatively) youthful line-up, and long term fans were initially rather flummoxed (no doubt this was part of the idea — the Alien having long delighted in wrongfooting his audience). But after a series of barnstorming live performances and a fine new album, I See You – the best Gong album since the early ’70s classics on which their legend rests – the revamped line-up had proved its mettle, and the announcement of a new set of tour dates promised more delights to come.

Then came the bad news – Allen had been diagnosed with lymphoma, he was undergoing treatment in Australia and would be unable to tour, his son (and Gong drummer)

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / The Cesarians (live at The Garage)

London 14 November 2014

The Cesarians at The Garage November 2014The Cesarians and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing together at last! Finally London’s finest purveyors of punked-up big band music are sharing a stage with its premier gang of Victorian anarchists, and it’s a wonder it’s never happened before. Also a wonder that it’s happening at all, Men frontman Andy Heintz having only recently been given the all-clear for throat cancer. To mark this special occasion, there are tribute beards everywhere, which is kind of odd.

Sadly by the time we arrive we’ve missed the first band, False Flags, who by all accounts were storming. I shan’t be making that mistake again, for sure. But we are, thankfully, in time for The Cesarians, who I haven’t seen

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Rise Above 25th Anniversary Show (live at The Garage)

Blood Ceremony live at The Garage December 2013London 28 December 2013

So who would have believed all those years ago that a small British label focusing mainly on doom music would last all this time? But by the time I went to the last anniversary show a few years back at the ULU it was obvious then that the scene had grown and the blood lust for this type of music hadn’t abated. In the pub across the road I heard some good things about Friday night’s show with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats headlining, so I couldn’t wait to get into the venue and experience what tonight’s acts were going to do in their time slots.

Age of Taurus live at The Garage December 

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Earthless/Atomic Bitchwax (live at The Garage)

London 13 July 2013

It’s the middle of summer and London burns in plus 30 degree heat, and whilst some spent a sweltering day in parks at bars or on beaches some of us spent the time preparing for a whole weekend of psychedelic, doom-laden stoner rock. As it was so hot outside The Garage in all its wisdom decided to keep the air con on minimum (raising the temperature in the venue by quite a few degrees) and only put on four bar staff – so at times it was six people deep at the bar. But the bearded masses were not about to let boiling temperatures and dehydration stop them from enjoying an evening of great rock and roll.

I had not seen Atomic Bitchwax before and was rather pleasantly surprised as they kicked out the jams and got the audience rocking. They were a band on fire,

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System 7/Banco de Gaia (live at The Garage)

The Garage, London 5 October 2012

At the end of the day most venues are the same, there’s a bar the stage a mixing desk and a few nice lights (if you’re lucky). I had not been to The Garage in a long time but remember seeing some great gigs there. As I entered the layout was the same as it had always been, however, System 7 and their cohorts had got their hands on the venue and turned it into a cross between the UFO Club and the old Club Dog meets a Goa beach rave. Colours were everywhere, the ceiling hung with multi-patterned flower shapes as liquid projections danced around the walls. This was true psychedelia in a ’67 style.

Banco de Gaia

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Guitar Wolf/Atomic Suplex/Los Pepes (live at The Garage)

The Garage, London 3 June 2012

Image copyright 2012 by Emerson TanImage copyright 2012 by Emerson Tan“I refuse to believe that Hendrix had the last possessed hand, that Joplin had the last drunken throat, that Morrison had the last enlightened mind.”

Patti Smith

As Patti said “Everybody says it’s finished … art’s finished, rock and roll is dead, God is dead. Fuck that!” As Neil Young said, “rock’n’roll will never die”. And as Guitar Wolf says, “BABY BABY BABY!!! ROCK AND ROLL!!!”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s the Queen’s jubilee, a date more significant to most of us

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The Pop Group (live at The Garage)

The Garage, London 11 September 2010

The Pop Group at the Garage (pic: Medwyn Jones)Reanimated musical corpses aren’t much of a news story these days – after The Velvet Underground and Throbbing Gristle reformations, nothing comes as a surprise. I was shocked then to realise just how stunned I felt to hear that The Pop Group had got back together to allegedly “blow the dust off the old songs and pick up where we left off…” or might it be perhaps to benefit from some of that old “consumer fascism” they railed so strongly against back in the day?

Mark Stewart (pic: Medwyn Jones)After three decades of informing people that they were the greatest artistic entity I’d ever encountered, it had never occurred to me that I would ever see The Pop Group again. The announcement

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Lightning Bolt (live)

The Garage, London 18th May 2006

In a Garage not exactly rammed to gills for a sold-out gig, Lightning Bolt – positioned as ever in a corner on the floor instead of taking to the stage – open their set with a looped low fidelity rhythm which soon wavers into loudness sliced by stabs of tuning-up sounds. An emergent chug struggles foal-like into unco-ordinated yet groovesome earshot, and given the amount of time they let the process continue, it’s certainly one way of building up anticipation. Such is Lightning Bolt’s cult status that even a jack plug interjection is greeted with eager yelps from the crowd, so when they actually lurch into a double-tapped frenzy of skronk bass guitar and flailing drums, the tension is pitched towards a cathartic release.

Live or on record, Lightning Bolt’s ethos seems to bo to take riffs and rhythms and worry them beyond death

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The Locust/Beecher/Ephel Duath (live at The Garage)

The Garage, London 9 April 2004

It’s good to know Thrash is alive and well and kicking up a stir, and tonight The Garage is graced with a queue down the street and eventually with a venue full of The Kids, Heavy Metal or otherwise, almost visibly churning with excitement at the prospect of a night of speedy percussion and throaty vocals. Ephel Duath provide more of the former than the latter, springing with vigorous post-Primus jazzcore energy. Their sound is taut and polished, ripping out the sixpence-turns at the point where virtuosity and gleeful noise interesct. Whatever they do – and it’s a phenomenon of the style, not really a fault per se – everything sounds progged up and hence more than a little noodly: but the saving grace is that one song is over quickly and another begun in the whirlwind blur of extraspeed jazz.

Beecher hold to

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Damo Suzuki Network/Circle (live at the Kosmische Club)

Circle The Garage, London 8 June 2002

Circle

Circle look worryingly like they’re going to play pub-Rock covers of Judas Priest – but fortunately nothing could be further from the truth. Finland’s finest space rockers (with the emphasis on the rock) have all the churning drive of Hawkwind at their psychedelic wind-tunnel best, with all the extraneous Blues influences stripped down to the bare rage of fuzz and phaser set to splurge. Other obviously unnecessary reference points might as well include the chug-a-lug intensity of the Butthole Surfers back when they didn’t bother appealing to anyone listening except their own baser selves, and Keiji Haino levitating the Albert Hall from a distance. In other words, they are on a mission to the heart of the musical storm, lashed to their raging Juno 60 synth, squirming guitar

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Bobby Conn (live)

Bobby ConnThe Garage, London 7 May 2002

The Bobby Conn Band chorus lineThere’s been a fair amount of good press come Bobby Conn‘s way since he last visited these shores in February. Appreciative album and live reviews in the national papers. A full page photo (wearing a lurid 80’s shellsuit) and enthusiastic write-up from Ted Kessler in the 4th of May edition of the NME. Badly Drawn Boy Damon Gough‘s description of The Golden Age as “the best album he’d heard in a decade,” can’t exactly have hindered the spreading of the Word either, for reasons of his celebrity if nothing else. Then there’s the upcoming show supporting Supergrass at the Royal Festival Hall on the 28th of June as part of David Bowie‘s otherwise appallingly billed Meltdown. All in all, it seems that Bobby’s star is on the rise.

I have

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Fad Gadget (live)

Fad Gadget lives!The Garage, London 18 January 2002

Not just another of those long-thought forgotten altered-state Pop could-have been idols extracting and revitalising themselves from the Eighties and onto the stage again, Frank Tovey, here backed up by a full band is back. In front of an audience half uncolourful and speckled with piercings in place of acne, and half old enough to have been there the first time Fad Gadget stalked the earth, tonight’s show turns out to be a serious joke on the notion of Electro posturing and Gothic cabaret croons. As a passing stranger at the bar remarks as Tovey manifests in a puffing gout of theatrical smoke, all bowler-hatted and spiney-shirted, “It lives.”

He lives, and is live and lively; the Electro-pop is dark and twisted, and so is Frank. No Rock star pose is too much for

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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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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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Oh (live at the Kosmische Club)

Kosmische @ Upstairs at The Garage, London 25 March 2000

When consumer electronics expanded sufficiently to include musical instruments at relatively affordable prices for the average band to use in the Eighties, the result was synth pop, unfortunately with some quite dire results. Then came the Techno revolution, and sampler-based bedroom cookups, and eventually everyone who once would have formed a garage band was in on the electronica act. Now that the original Mini-Moogs and Stylophones, DX7s and SH-1s have become collectors’ items after years on the second-hand shelves at bargain basement prices, their place in the battery of instrumentation available to those who started out as indie rock bands (in the loosest possible sense, covering a variety of pleasures and sins) soon eclipsed the treasured varnished sheen of a vintage Fender Jaguar or a Rickenbacker semi-acoustic guitar as objects of desire. The sounds if not the hairstyles of Eighties

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