Category Archives: Live

Sexy hammer blows: Hey Bulldog live at Jimmy’s August 2019

The Mancunian saviours of rock n roll, Manchester Guns Of Navarone, the mighty Hey Bulldog  are booming. Saturday night saw them smash up Jimmy’s, notching up their first ever sold out headline show; coming off the back of radio exposure for their brand new single, ‘Death & Greed’, available on limited edition vinyl.

Cementing their status as a power trio for the psych age, this is attack dog rock that goes for the jugular. They are unleashed and taut, not an inch of fat on this beast.

They respond to the sell out crowd with a huge performance. Heads are down and tails are up. No one gets out of here alive, boys. Leading the onslaught, ‘Death & Greed’ comes at you first. ‘California’ kills you with it’s rat run bass and S. McQueen on the hills of San Fran cool.

More subtler shades come with ‘No Future’ in which their New Order-meets-power-ballads dream display starts with it’s rarely spotted ‘Part 1’ intro then kicking into it’s shimmering extended run of guitar showdowns.

‘Al Lupo’; the teetering see-saw of furious fuzz rock becomes even more coagulated and rampant.

Best of all though is the best ever ‘Divide & Conquer’ which transmits such transformative juice it whips up a mosh crowd down front, pummelling them with sexy hammer blows.

The band are living it. Rob M, the Cuban heeled swagger jet himself, plays his guitar like Bowie and Thunders, swiping and swooping as he shoots vicious needles of noise.

Imagine a man sized octopus, enmeshed forcibly into a drum machine. Imagine then that the octopus loves this oily life of rhythm. This beat arithmetic. This is Ben Howarth-Less, ultimate man machine. William Gibson’s wet dream.

Matt Parry on bass throws down like a man strangling a grizzly bear to death with a King Cobra. His bass lines run, fight, collide and careen.  When he and Rob lock down they are like what you imagine The MC5 were, but probably weren’t.

This is the night Hey Bulldog have been waiting for. This rock n roll animal is ready for the big time.

Dr Feelgood’s Nuggets – Three Dimensional Tanx live at The Castle July 2019

Some bands play as if their lives depend on it. Some bands play to release their art. Some bands want to change the world. Three Dimensional Tanx play because they fucking love it. This is a band that lives for rock n roll.

Their garage psych is now honed into sonic bullets. Short, waspish manoeuvres to attack the ribs. They’re changing though, getting more rhythmic and clipped. In the previous two-guitar line up, Brother Pete and Brother Rich turned up the MC5 rammalamma and turned it into a right old ding dong. Now, slimmed down to a four piece, it’s closer to a demented Northern Soul, with the emphasis on fast speed-y grooves. All in all if Dr Feelgood had been weaned on Nuggets not r ‘n’ b then it coulda sounded like this.

Sean on bass runs down his riffs like Donkey Kong running up that whatsit. Loz, the most enertaining drummer you’ll ever see puts on a one man show. Spacey’s keys flick at you like a wet towel on the arse while he teaches his twisted speech.

Their set was comprised of a large chunk of their most recent album, A Compulsion For Propulsion, which perfectly captures their live energy while giving it a studio sheen. Plus there’s ‘Hotdog’ from Attack! and the classic “ballad” ‘The Moon & The Wrecker’, arguably their definitive song.

Want a band to get tattooed on your arm? Three Dimensional Tanx is it.

Rampant brutalism: Teeth Of The Sea live at Soup Kitchen

Soup Kitchen is the perfect home for Teeth Of The Sea. A concrete square down some concrete steps. Exposed brickwork. A neon sign that’s slightly too small for the space it occupies. Teeth Of The Sea make music spawned from the modern age. They soundtrack a dystopian life, a life you would never wish to witness. They make new things. They make shapes appear in front of you that you have never seen before, in colours you have never seen before. Then when the shapes have gone, you can’t remember what they looked like, just the feeling inside to have witness something so special and unique in a concrete box with a too-small sign.

Teeth Of The Sea were ripping the head off their latest album, WRAITH. The first track is death knell operating theatre intro ‘Our Love Will Destroy This Fucking World’ which segues us neatly into the dance track of WRAITH: ‘Gladiators Ready’ in which huge walls come forth to batter you into submission.

The first man has a laptop and some keyboards and wires. He programs shit and drum machines and does mysterious technological stuff.

A man wearing resplendent boots plays a pointy guitar and has more pedals than a BMW warehouse. He issues noises that run the gamut from metal twisting in extreme fatigue, to furious game boy battle chaos, to heavy dread vibes. When the dancing starts he occasionally kicks the stage, succumbing to basic motor functions??

The trumpet player. A king in a world of rust. Where the electro brings horror, the trumpet brings heart. Silver tongued streaks of beauty among the debris. Such melancholy pervades the work of Teeth Of The Sea, meaning their darkest music never gets bogged down in depression. He plays with such heart and soul that he spreads light over the dominion.

The set ends with the epic MASTER-piece ‘Responder’ which drugs (sic) you under with a low-level rhythmic thrumming before the universe expands before your eyes and a vastoid (sic) panorama of rave machinations hit in waves. Sweaty white dudes dance. Grown men freak.

Transmission ends/

Three Dimensional Tanx live 06.04.2018

Sunshine and showers…

I’m biased, I’ve seen Three Dimensional Tanx over ten times but they haven’t ventured down to Manchester in a while so it was a huge pleasure to see them supporting the best band of the now, The Lucid Dream. It was an even greater pleasure to see them playing to a big crowd, and the crowd lapping it up and falling in love with them just like I did.

My mate Jason summed them up best: “they play like their lives depended on it”*. This was a band knowing they had a golden opportunity, so they grabbed it and gave it everything they’ve got. This was a band having a whale of a time. From the moment they stepped on stages it was smiles all round and they whipped up the crowd til the smiles were beaming back at them.

Three Dimensional Tanx play fast and loose garage rock that’s part Inspiral Carpets swirl, part punk ramalama, part last chance saloon rock ‘n’ roll, part oddball Northern Soul. Richard on guitar plays wiry rhythms, leaving lots of space for the drums, bass and the keys. They whizzed through 11 songs in 30 minutes, never taking a breath. It started with the golden great ‘The Moon & The Wrecker’, an evergreen stomper and singalong. From there they clattered through the amphetamine rush of ‘I Am Go’ and the fairground side-show ‘Hotdog’, plus news songs from an album due later in the year. All delivered with childlike enthusiasm from shoeless frontman Spacey, who has the magnetic stage presence of a cartoon Jon Spencer. Come to think it, 3DTanx are a cartoon band; colourful, brimming with personality and lots and lots of fun.

Of course, what everyone walks away from 3DTanx talking about is the drummer Loz. Other drummers are functional, there to keep a beat, to keep the clock ticking. Loz? Loz drums like the star of the show, drums like a man born to entertain. He’s a drummer with ADHD, he couldn’t do motorik if he wanted, which he wouldn’t anyway. He breaks mid flow to do solos, breaks and reassembles at will, he wanders outside his kit to play the cymbals, he takes his dress off. They don’t make ‘em like Loz anymore. They never made ‘em like Loz.

Three Dimensional Tanx glorify daftness and exalt the art of entertainment. Their new fans have heard the calling…

*It’s easy reviewing – just write what your mates say.

Vids c/o the Great Sage

The Lucid Dream – live at The Castle 27.08.2017

Witness the maelstrom: from underneath the Lucid Dream a tangled mass of sweaty flesh heaves, jostles and jumps, undulating and surging. Such a constricted, primordial mess of limbs hasn’t been seen since Michelangelo’s Battle Of Cascina. The wooden floors are creaking and groaning like a galleon in a tempest.

The Lucid Dream are at The Castle, in a special two-of-a-kind gig , acting as a thank you to those who helped their crowdfunding campaign following the theft of all their equipment in Paris. The campaign managed to help them get new equipment and get the band best in the country back on its feet.

The first song of the night is a new one so we’ll tackle that later. The second is ‘Bad Texan’ – that ritualistic call-to-arms. The crowd becomes deranged. The white-knuckle physicality of the music, plus the automatic language spat by Mark stiffens the sinews and encourages all to let-loose and untether themselves from such mortal concerns. Band and crowd achieve blast-off.

‘Unchained Dub’ mellows the room down a little; the luxurious, lugubrious bass reverberating around the room, up spines and out of pores. Heads are nodding, smiles are flashing, hugs are exchanged. It’s all peace and love when The Lucid Dream are in town.

’21st Century’ smashes the room back into action with its gut churning G-force.

‘Nadir’ and ‘Epitaph’ end the night with a monumental, unassailable wall of dance-noise. Strains of post-punk and motorik are cultivated and released into the environment. The crowd is long lost; swimming topsy-turvy in a dark dimension of excess. True exaltation is achieved as people whirl and careen themselves in one with the music.

The ‘encore’ is ‘Mona Lisa’. What else? This is the song that divorced them from the strait jackets of the psych scene and kicked the lad rock crowd into touch. This is the song that ensured Mike’s bass would be the weapon of choice. Operatic and magisterial, this king-groove hangs in the air while the crowd leap for it with sweaty palms.

The night ends, people try to recover.

The three new tracks tonight shine a light on the next album. They’re 90s dance inspired but fed through their intrinsic devotion to heavy groove and noise. These new songs are temples on which to shed your skin and become born anew. When you have the dazzling prospect of Luke’s drums versus a drum machine, the hypothetical notion of this battle alone will bring you out in sweats.

The key to their success is the fact that The Lucid Dream play a diamond midfield. At the front of the diamond is Mike; Peter Hook and Jah Wobble rolled into one. He stands at the front of the stage and enjoys a Lucid Dream gig as the much as the crowd do.

The most incredible thing about the Lucid Dream is that every time you see them they blow you away and you walk away convinced that the next time they couldn’t possible top what you’ve just seen. They do, every time. They keep forging ahead in new directions and each inroad into new territory yields results that music has been waiting for.

Compulsion Songs is available to buy right now.


* You won’t see Michelangelo’s Battle Of Cascina mentioned in Louder Than War…

Rhys Bloodjoy and The Jungfraus live 27.07.2017

We’re down in quinoa capital of the world, Chorlton. To be more precise we’re in upstairs of Dulcimer, to see a gig in a room the shape of a Tetris piece. To give you a clue, it’s not the square one.

Rhys Bloodjoy

We’ve talked about Rhys Bloodjoy many times before, but his latest performance cemented what most people on the Manchester psych scene suspect: that he is a true artist in the John Cale sense of the word.

For those uninitiated with his work, he is simply one man with a guitar. Twee indie pop? Not on your nelly, my old sunbeam. The music Bloodjoy plays is psych-western gone rogue and exiled from any notion of genre or cliché. He thumps a beat then loops it. He plays a bass line and loops it. He creates melodies and loops them. He sings and loops it. He blasts his way through sets like a performance artist.

One man does the work of six. He creates a sensory overload. This is psych music that is both stripped back and overwhelming. The simplicity equates to trance. The drum beat on ‘Aim High’ is so virulent, so possessing that when the song ends you are still locked within it, nodding your head and shuffling your feet to a beat resonating within your bones, in a temporarily silent room.

The beats are Apache war drums over the hills. The guitar shreds siren-shrieks like air raid warnings. This is music of drama and conflict. Dry and blood stained, his music is aggro released and squared. But starkly beautiful melodies reside inside. Bloodjoy is the musical equivalent of High Plains Drifter. Bloodjoy is existential as well as gut piercingly visceral. Bloodjoy is as cinematic as he is musical. He is wasted playing in bars. Bloodjoy is ahead of the game. Bloodjoy is another game entirely.

We call him The Desolation Cowboy. Some say Manchester is not big enough for him. We say the world is waiting for him.

The Jungfraus

Next up are the witty and verdant Jungfraus.

When I saw front man Mick Kenyon hunched at a table, poring over his set list, worn leather jacket wrapped around him he cut a distinctly Mark E Smith figure. A young, vital Mar E. Smith to be sure, not the old toothless Mark E Smith, releasing the same album for the sixth consecutive time.

On stage The Jungfraus look and play like a garage band. You’d be forgiven for expecting them to be another 60s throwback. Straight away though it shrieks you they’re actually closer to glam. Don’t worry, there’s no platform shoes or Noddy Holder mirror hats. The difference is that Mick is a wordspitter. The singer in a psych band is generally speaking, a mumbler. Mick has words to say. He is not afraid to use his voice and to have people listen to his lyrics*. The band is glam in the sense that Mick has an ego. This isn’t to disparage. The scene is overrun with psych bands with singers who mumble in the shoegaze style. Mick owes more to Ray Davies. Plus, he plays the only guitar in a stylish, expansive manner, cutting into solos and happy to stand front and centre on the stage. In this sense he’s from the Elvis Costello school. Maybe even the Johnny Thunders style of punkish guitar frontman.

The songs are bright and preppy; pop-wise, but unafraid to muscle down for an extended run out. Augmented by cutesy keys and powered by show-boating drumming, The Jungfraus are unafraid to mix strength and wit.

Energetic and refreshing, just like Irn Bru.

*Other examples of bands with singers unafraid to sing are Total Victory and The Maitlands.

Follakzoid live at Soup Kitchen 18.05.2017

Follakzoid are the real deal.

Chile’s finest krautrock band rolled into Manchester as part of their tour and played a sold out Soup Kitchen last night.

The set starts with a simple repetitive bleeping of ants-in-your-pants electronics, to start the rhythm going in your head and cast aside the outside world. When the rhythm section finally kicks in you’re already nodding your head, you’re already in the zone. Follakzoid are slave to the groove. They have melded their motorik pulse beat to a dance ethos, and like, Radar Men From The Moon, have arrived at a point where psychedelic meets trance. This is the purest distillation of dance music. Noise distilled to its simplest essence, acquiring a raw brutality on the way. 10 minutes later and you’re drunk on the music, grinning inanely. You keep expecting the song to come to an end, for the fun to stop, but it keeps going, understanding that enjoyment should never be curtailed. When it does wind down you’re dumbstruck.

The drumming makes a massive difference. Most motoric drumming is clipped, subtle and smooth, ready for the autobahn. This is tribal and sweaty. Here is a drummer who powers through the song. He’s like the guy who would beat the rhythm in a Sunday afternoon movie when the hero has been sold into slavery and forced into the bottom of a galleon.

The bass is a huge rubbery twang, so visceral you can almost see the air moving in waves. It’s a lot like Peter Hook’s circa Closer.

This leaves space for the guitar, which adds decoration. Sometimes it’s the oddest reggae style scratches, other times impenetrable squalls of pedal abuse. Strange sharp noises resound.

Follakzoid played 3 songs in what could have been 50 minutes. It could have been a couple of days, maybe a week. Time became irrelevant. Who cares about time when you’re throwing shapes to the psychedelic equivalent of The Shamen?

Groove as pleasure.