Category Archives: Live

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.

THE LUCID DREAM WILL RETURN NEXT YEAR

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

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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.

https://bloodjoy.bandcamp.com/album/love-is-a-fucked-up-goddess-part-i-ltd-cassette-digital-download

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.

https://thejungfraus.bandcamp.com

*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.

https://follakzoid.bandcamp.com

Stockport Shaken by Earthquake

The denizens of Stockport were left shaken on Friday night following a freak earthquake in the town. The tremor was described as a “bass heavy rumble” that shook window panes in their frames and dislodged chimneys.

Professor Tim Flangerhanger from The Institute Of Shaky Ground stated in a press release:

“The quake was recorded on the evening of the 23rd March 2017 in the vicinity of The Seven Miles Out venue. We’re not entirely sure what caused this bizarre phenomena but it sounded heavy and full of dread, man”

As to the source of the incident, rumours are now circulating about the presence of space-rock leviathans Dead Sea Apes, who were reportedly active in the area. This band, known for their bleak soundscapes that you can nod your head to, are a prolific band with a new album entitled The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon, featuring guest vocal performances from artist and writer Adam Stone. The new album sees Dead Sea Apes focusing on a new dub orientated angle. Also, the climax of the earthquake reportedly resembled fan favourite ‘Wolf Of The Bees’.

Jim, a Schnauzer, owned by a Mr Savage of Dead Sea Apes confirmed that he was not taken for walkies on Friday night and his owner was seen leaving the house with “all his pedals”.

It would appear that the mystery may be solved…

https://deadseaapes.bandcamp.com/album/sixth-side-of-the-pentagon

Live: Dead Sea Apes and Thought Forms 22-02-2017

In the cobwebby underworld of Soup Kitchen, two bands were performing to enliven our Wednesday nights with some sonic adventures.

First up it’s one of Manchester’s most popular support acts, the mighty Dead Sea Apes. It’s been a while since I’ve since the Stalybridge boys…

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Brett’s astral-plane guitar spits vapour trails, but within such gleeful noise making he finds time to fire off flinty post-punk rhythms and spurts of energy. Here is a man (who owns a Schnauzer) torn between the urge to soundtrack slow-time battle cruisers with the urge to launch into catchy, accessible riffology. He seems like an extrapolated Will Sergeant.

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Music this stately and grand can often be inert and rigid, but thankfully Dead Sea Apes’s rhythm section is what sets them apart from the hordes of heavy-ish space rock bands that drift the broad plains of bandcamp. Chris’ drumming is constantly scurrying and fizzing with a fiery intensity; Satan’s jazz drummer. Nick’s bass is fluid and serpentine, wrapping its way round the other instruments and occasionally taking point. Even when the music is slow you can nod your head to it, and when the engines fire up it’s bristling with a pent-up groove-energy. Seeing these two locked together leads to the conclusion that this is in fact an extreme funk outfit. No, really.

Then it hits: Dead Sea Apes are a post-rock / funk band. You didn’t see that one coming did you?
Then it’s Thought Forms, who were unfamiliar to these ears.

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The overall impression is a Krautrock sense of freedom: five musos in black flitting across genres as they see fit. Their music constantly shifts: at times a sun-baked remorse, at other times clipping along with a motoric pulse. They often ripple with a Sonic Youth propulsion. The guitars are stringent and the drums sporadically burst into bombastic blocks that bring us nearer to metal. They switch from rhythmic to fractured with alarming ease. This is a band confident enough to end the set with an ambient soundscape of eastern drones and guitar experimentation.

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https://deadseaapes.bandcamp.com

https://thoughtforms.bandcamp.com

Live – Control Of The Going 17.09.2016

Whitehall chiefs had dispatched me to the North for a progress report on Control Of The Going, one of Manchester’s rising psych stars. On the way, a gang of ski assassins tried to ambush me outside Birmingham, but a few blasts from the machine guns mounted on the Aston Martin put pay to them. The location was Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s hipster hotspot The Northern Quarter. After dispatching a few ninja’s and cleaning the blood of my tuxedo, I entered the concrete fallout bunker that doubles as a music venue. They’re fooling no-one, when the bomb drops that’s the place to be.

Control of The Going were headline act and I am pleased to report the year they have spent in the field has shown startling progress.

With three guitars, keys, rhythm section and vocals it has been easy for individuals to be lost in the mix or even to sound as if instruments were jostling against each other for attention. Now though, Control of The Going are managing to get all their instruments to blend together into a whole. They’re not yet at the kind of unity that Helicon achieve, but they’re getting there.

The set was a laid back collection of groovy psych numbers in the vein of their heroes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, culminating in the cosmic jangle of ‘Star’ and ending with ‘She’ which starts as classic pop before hitting the gas and shooting to a breakneck finish. It’s a good song to end with as the band clear enjoys accelerating through the gears. These kind of tempo changes really help them and taking more trips into the fast lane would certainly help.

Matt’s drumming is just right: vigorous without being overpowering and flashy without being twattish. Moreover, the whole band are clearly now comfortable both on stage and off, they’ve always been happy to mingle and chat with the punters but they look totally at ease on stage now. Liam wears a hat that could only belong to a frontman and happy to take on the focus that such a mighty hat attracts.

The gig, the first monthly psych night organised by Scruff Of The Neck Records was a success, with a healthy crowd and an attractive line up of bands for a fiver. It finished early too, which meant I could hunt down that former KGB operative that now lives in a rented room in Whalley Range. Luckily, that teeth floss that doubles as garrotte came in most handy and I left the assailant face down in the washing up.

With the wheels of the Aston screeching, it was time for the next adventure.

Secret spy images attached:

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Hey Bulldog and Sulk live

Three bands and a club night for £5? That’s pretty good value from Night & Day Cafe. Mind you, the booze is expensive, so swings and roundabouts.

HEY BULLDOG

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I sadly missed Inland Taipan but arrived just in time to see another incendiary set from Hey Bulldog.

There’s a camp that believes that OctopusBen is the best drummer in Manchester. If that isn’t reason enough to go see them, he’s one-third of the city’s premier power trio. Joining him is Matt, whose snuffling bass is a huge foundation stone and Rob on guitar who knows how to make a Strat scream and purr. Watching his fingers dance up and down the neck of the guitar during ‘Divide And Conquer’ is further proof that the guitarist is the 21st century gunslinger.

Their recent gig with Moon Duo proves they’re one of the best support bands around, wrapping crowds round their fingers. Go see ’em, get wrapped!

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SULK

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Admittedly, I’d never heard of SULK, but for the duration of their hedonistic set I was transported to the GMEX circa 1992. Despite having a guitarist who fires beautiful curlicues of psych notes, when SULK lock together they have grooves straight from the ‘Sally Cinnamon’ school.

They obviously get stacks of comparisons with Britpop, though I feel this is mainly due to the presence of a good old-fashioned frontman. Jon Sutcliffe’s got tons of Ian Brown and Tim Burgess swagger, plus a measure of Tom Hingley stage presence. They’re also retro in having good punchy chorus’ to get everyone fired up.

SULK already feel like the complete package and are a band ready for big, big rooms. Go se ’em, get dancing!

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https://heybulldog.bandcamp.com

https://sulk-uk.bandcamp.com/album/no-illusions