Posts Tagged ‘Live Review’

Christopher Nosnibor

All of the good gigs are happening in November this year it seems, when traditionally things tend to be a bit quieter. Much of this is down to the knock-on effect of two years of rescheduling, not least of all with venues being booked solid with rescheduled dates till now. As scheduling goes, the fact that Please Please You has brought Part Chimp to York is a huge deal, and the turnout on a soaking wet night in the middle of a month of rain says it’s widely appreciated.

Part Chimp are one of those bands who’ve been going forever – well, twenty-two years is close enough – and have enjoyed something of a cult following. But with the release of their latest album and the shows to promote it, they seem to have enjoyed something of a surge, receiving at least some of the recognition they’ve deserved – and richly so, because they’re simply a great band.

And tonight they’re headlining a great lineup. The fact the support acts are brain-foamingly good is something I’ll get to the detail of shortly, but again, credit has to go to Joe Coates for his curation skills.

If it’s quiet in the bar before doors, it’s the only thing that is quiet about the night, and it’s remarkably busy for the arrival of the first band. While they’re local, that’s no guarantee of attendance. But they’re bloody good. Junk-It are a shouty riffy drum and guitar duo. They’re kinda straight rock but a bit Pulled Apart By Horses too, with some crazed vocals and incendiary riffs, and with some melodies spun in. Songs are tight, their chat less so. The singer looks a bit like a young Bill Bailey but sounds more often than not more Robert Plant. They’ve got good energy, and good tunes, and they work hard. It’s early days for them, so they’re a bit rough around the edges, but promising; they’re grungy, left-leaning –they’re definitely left – and deliver some exhilarating guitar-driven noise.

Junk-It

Junk-It

Uncle Bari, another duo consisting of Pak 40 / Redfyrn drummer Leo Hancill and Cat Redfern of Redfyrn, only Cat’s drumming and Leo’s on guitar, and they kick out some mega-heavy, mega-loud dark psych drums and dense guitar with vocals submerged beneath the tidal wave of riff and reverb. The sound is immersive, with slow, spacious minimalism dominating, but when they go big, they go big. With slow picked guitar and steady, rolling drums, the last track is very Earth. And at appropriate volume, it’s a remarkable experience.

Uncle Bari

Uncle Bari

The experience is a fundamental aspect of a Part Chimp show. Listening to the albums, it’s obvious that they’re a loud band, but live, they’re LOUD. I mean ear-bleeding, skull-crackingly loud. It’s not just nasty overloading volume for the sake of it, though – the riffs come through with remarkable clarity, you can make out the component parts just fine, even if the vocals are a bit buried (but no more than on the studio recordings). It’s one of the most amazingly joyful experiences, being bathed in sound in such a way, as is witnessing a bunch of older guys play in such a way that really is a masterclass for so many of the next generation to observe. They’re not overtly cool, and there’s no theatre or pretence, and the most chat we get is a ‘cheers’ here and there. It’s simply all about churning out the big, dense, grungy riffs, and sometimes they plug away at two chords for a full half minute.

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Part Chimp

The set is dominated by cuts from Drool, but there are some oldies in the mix, and they encore with ‘Trad’ from 2009’s Thriller and ‘Hello Bastards’ from second album I Am Come. Not that it really matters too much about the specifics of the songs: they’re all beefy blasting riff blowouts, and there is absolutely no letup from beginning to end. There aren’t adequate superlatives or adjectives to express the elation this elicits: sometimes, you really do have to be there.

Christopher Nosnibor

I like trains. Ironically, it was a lack of trains that almost prevented my making this show, as the largest national strike in the series yet meant there were none operating. David Martin and his band also likes trains, as he reminded us during one of his few brief exchanges with the audience during the set, going on to add “we support the action”. So would many in the audience, judging by the response.

While we’re waiting for things to get underway, we’re afforded the opportunity to appreciate the magnificent surroundings to a backdrop of minimal instrumental beats, before northern noise duo Polevaulter take to the stage assault our ears with a truly abrasive racket. Having given a platform to the emerging Benefits late last year, ILT have come up trumps with another killer support act this time. Complimentary but contrasting to the headliners, Polevaulter hit us with stark, crisp programmed drums and dirty live bass grind and feedback and shouty vocals. They’re a powerful hybrid of post-punk and industrial, and crank out a blinding wall of nihilism. As much Cabaret Voltaire and Factory Floor as Benefits or Sleaford Mods, they equally belong to the Leeds lineage of drum-machine driven post punk defined by the mutant noise of Age of Chance.

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Polevaulter

More minimal beats pave the way to an atmospheric intro as I Like Trains take to the stage and launch into a set that – unsurprisingly – is dominated by tracks from KOMPROMAT, their first album in eight years. There’s a palpable urgency to the performance, which launches with the triple salvo of ‘A Steady Hand’, ‘Desire is a Mess’, and ‘Dig In’.

They’re tight and look reinvigorated – and Guy Bannister still looks the same as he did back in 2005, switching between – and sometimes simultaneously playing -guitar and synths, integral to the rich, deep, and full-bodied sound, while the visuals make for a full 360-degree multisensory experience. They still kill the crescendos, too, and I’m reminded once again why I’ve been coming back to see this band for the last fifteen years: they really do put everything into their shows, and play hard, too.

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I Like Trains

They pack the songs in tight, with minimal chat or pause, and deliver ear-shredding bursts of noise from seemingly out of nowhere, and tonight, they’re as good as they’ve ever been. Having moved from a baritone croon to a more spoken style of vocal, David Martin actually pushes himself a lot harder in his delivery: there’s real passion behind every line, and – more irony – in having assimilated slogans and double speak clichés into the fabric of his lyrics, he’s truly found his own voice as a writer.

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I Like Trains

Mid-set, they play a rearranged version of ‘The Beaching Report’ from Progress Reform. With some screwdriver slide guitar work, it’s bleak and haunting, and simply had to be played. Reform, reform… What goes around comes around, history repeats, and cuts bite ever harder. The song’s relevance now brings a lump to the throat: today’s strikes aren’t purely about pay, but reforms that will have a significant impact on safety.

History and remembrance have run as themes through I Like Trains’ work since their very beginning, but tonight, observing the contrast between the refrain of ‘Terra Nova’, of Scott’s doomed arctic expedition – ‘More’s the shame / they will remember my name’ – and Boris Johnson’s gurning face against the slogan ‘God loves a winner’ during The Spectacle’ – which absolutely kicks – is a sobering experience.

Toward the end of the set, they finally concede to a proper delve into the back catalogue (although there are no songs from Elegies to Lessons Learnt – thanks to the early finish meaning we don’t get the ‘Spencer Percival’ encore of the night before) or The Deep), giving us ‘A Rook House for Bobby’ (dedicated to the memory of Debs, “perhaps the biggest I Like Trains fan”) and ‘Terra Nova’ back to back, both bringing ear-bleeding crescendos.

They close with an absolutely stonking extended rendition of ‘The Truth’, with a thudding, insistent bass groove chopping a deep furrow against a backdrop of warped images of Liz Truss. The climactic thrust which sees David nailing the truth of the truth and appropriating my own stage performance style in the process (and who wouldn’t want to, right?), tossing screwed cards into the crowd and flipping the written cues in all directions… it feels like a performative metaphor, whereby the truth is discarded wantonly, recklessly, with no regard, before he finally intimates ‘The truth will trickle down… I am totally out of my depth’. He’s never been more intense than this, and I Like Trains have never felt more vital.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a very long while since scuzz-punk rock duo Mannequin Death Squad came to our shores, and even longer since they last set foot in York – but hailing from Melbourne, Australia, it’s been quite a while since they’ve set foot anywhere outside their province, with now fewer than six lockdowns and more than 260 days under restrictions during the pandemic, which led to Victoria’s state capital to be dubbed the “world’s most locked down city”, according to the BBC. Hardly conducive conditions for a band who thrive on playing live.

MDS seems to have harnessed all of that pent-up energy for this month-long UK tour, scheduled at relatively short notice, but before they’re on, they’ve got a solid bill of local talent in support, too (let’s face it, four bands for £7, you can’t go wrong), and first on, up-and-coming KissKissKill (styled as XXK so as to avoid any iffy connotations, and who’ve been around a while but seem to be finally kicking things up a notch) prove to be a solid opener giving an assured performance. Their sound may bet kinda standard rock with some big guitar solos, but they’ve got a good level of energy and enthusiasm. Singer Gemma-Louise performs with her eyes as well as with powerful lungs, and she’s backed by some solid riffs and she bounces around a lot: they all do, apart from the bassist who hides at the back behind his straightened hair. They’re a lot of fun, and clearly have potential for great things.

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KissKissKill

Ketamine Kow bring mouth frothing energy and aggression. They’ve had their songs shared on Twitter by Sleaford Mods. The front-cunt’s proper mental and the songs are almost secondary to the spasmodic energy as he charges around maniacally, getting in people’s faces and generally creating a disruptive energy. I mean, there seems to be something not quite right about the guy, but this is the spectacle of a performer who lives every second of the performance for real. Like a young Iggy Pop, it’s all for the moment. There are some squalling riffs and pounding percussion going on behind the manic screaming and shouting. Ketamine Kow could well be the new Baby Godzilla: with the exception of the drummer, who also provides strong second vocals, the band spend as much time in the crowd than on stage, the singer everywhere all at once, hollering from the back of the room, leering in and looming over the crowd, or writhing on the floor. Skinny white boys with gangly limbs, you can’t imagine that being in a band is likely to help any of the members of Ketamine Kow to pull: they’re sweary, sweaty, raw, authentic punk, and so, so angry – and fucking brilliant.

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Ketamine Kow

The Bricks Draw the Line at the start of the set, and they seem to get sharper, more solid, more meaty with every outing, and singer Gemma is more confident and more commanding than ever. The sound is a perfect amalgamation of juggernaut bass with choppy stuttering riffs that splinter onto shards, with heavy hints of Gang of Four and Wire with martial beats. In terms of performance, Gemma doesn’t ‘do’ much – no bouncing about, no, posing: she doesn’t have to. The voice is immense, and is all the presence, allowing the three middle-aged blokes (no criticism, especially as they’re clearly having a blast playing the songs and have the sound absolutely nailed) to fade into the noisy background.

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It’s gone 10:45 when Mannequin Death Squad start, but when they do it’s incendiary: the set is back to back killers, heavily raiding their 2016 debut mini-album ‘Eat Hate Regurgitate’ alongside songs released on-line since and brand new material, too. They’re loud and they’re tight with a full sound, the dual vocals really defining the sound over the big, grungy riffs. They play hard and fierce. ‘Sick’ lands third before a new track off the forthcoming debut album. Elly’s eyes lol up into her head as she kicks out the riffs. The mid-set instrument switch seems to take it up a notch, and Dan steps out from behind the drums to take over the guitar and lead vocals, and stomps the stage fiercely. Meanwhile, the hi hat’s fucked and zip on her trousers is bust, but still Elly doesn’t miss a beat. They’re committed, alright. Live shows don’t come better than this.

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Mannequin Death Squad

Things are running late and curfews are a kicker for most venues these days, especially those in residential areas, so they’re forced to truncate the set a little – and so what it lacks in duration, they compensate in energy, turning the small venue into a total sweatbox as they deliver the title track from their forthcoming debut album, ‘Super Mental Psycho’ as the penultimate song, and it’s blistering. We’re all wiped and melting by the end, and while there’s no chance of an encore, the rush to the merch and to chat to the band after showed the level of appreciation. And rightly so – they’re one of those bands who never disappoint.

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s no escaping politics and economics, even when you go to gigs as your primary mode of escape from life. When people are struggling to make ends meet, going out is a luxury for many. This is truly a tragedy. With the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being billed (because everything has to have a name, a brand now), crippling pubs and clubs and individuals alike as hard as Covid restrictions and lockdowns did, gigs like this are incredibly welcome: a showcase of emerging local talent for a quid, at a venue where a decent hand-pulled (local) pint costs £4.

Perspex in particular have been building quite a buzz in recent months, but had almost completely bypassed me, so curiosity coupled with the simple urge to go and see some live music meant that a quid seemed like a safe enough punt, especially when the venue’s in easy walking distance.

Given that it’s a race night on which Madness are playing at the racecourse and there’s a sold-out gig at The Vaults with other rising local talents, it’s an impressive turnout at the 400-capacity venue as Captain Starlet take the stage.

Christ, they look young. Like bands starting out in 1979. Ill-fitting shirts and striped t-shirts, Vox and Rickenbacker guitars. They’ve not yet figured out haircuts or grown into their faces, but have fashioned some tidy indie tunes. It’s a bit jangly, a bit C86, it’s well played but ultimately kinda middling. And then it goes country, and all the moustache and suit-sporting Nick Cave rip-offs start having a hoedown down the front. I realise I don’t understand anything anymore.

Captain Starlet

Captain Starlet

Trueman start off promisingly, with some bold sax action reminiscent of the Psychedelic Furs. But it rapidly descends into a quality performance of average music. My mate suggests Razorlight as a comparison, and he’s right. There’s much movement and arm waving from the sixth-formers down the front.

People really love bland shit. I know I should be supportive of new bands, but these reek entitlement. They’re not as good as they think they are.

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Trueman & the Indoor League

Perspex: great name, sharp look (some of them are the suit and shades wearing posers who were getting down to Captain Starlet), lame, forgettable songs. I persevere for a while before retiring to the bar. They’re still audible, and actually sound better from there, but still ultimately forgettable. There’s a steady trickle of departures during their set, so it’s not just me. They weren’t terrible, just terribly average, and when there are a million average bands knocking about, there’s simply no need for any more.

Perspex

Perspex

But for all that, it was a good night: people enjoyed themselves without interfering with others or spoiling their nights. People enjoyed the bands and didn’t gab on through them, and the vibe was good. The bands played well and the sound was good, so much credit is due to bands, fans and venue. There’s definitely a market there, and potentially, a large one. I wish them all the best of luck.

Christopher Nosnibor

Seems like gigs at the Vaults are cursed when I go. Just as headliners Witch of the East cancelled the last time I was down, so PAK40 have had to bail due to Covid. Yep, over two years on and it’s still having a significant impact on live music. But the good news is that REDFYRN are worth turning out for, as previous outings have shown, and even prior to PAK40’s withdrawal, it had the air of a double-header.

It’s fucking melting. I mean, I’m drinking cider, it’s that mafting. And I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it. My skin is like a sieve or muslin bag. It must be absolutely punishing on stage.

Openers Beswick get off to a bit of a ragged start. But then, it is their first gig in three years, and they’re not looking like the kind of band who get tour-tight. It would be wrong to complain about the lack of guitar definition with a black metal band, and they lean towards the lower, slower end, where everything slips into a sludgy mid-range mesh, thanks to the five-string bass and seven-string guitar and the most fuckedest cymbal I’ve seen in use in a long time.

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Beswick

The main vocalist has three distinct styles: a penetrating, shivering squawk, a low growl, and a cleanish, atonal punk snarling shout, which actually works at least half of the time as they swing towards a dingy punk style at various points during the set. They do seem like a band in a bit of a stylistic quandary as they slither hither and thither, but they’re solid entertainment. The final song is a nod to their previous incarnation as Tokechamber, and sees the set conclude with billowing drone doom chords and feedback. I would have happily watched that for an hour.

REDFYRN start as they mean to go on, bringing the riffs slow and steady, with more five-string bass groove through an immense effects rack. The bassist has bounding energy, smashing every note with fists and feet, and the weighty guitars contrast with the soaring vocals. Big brave but stoner with a bluesy twist, chunky gritty riffs.

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REDFYRN

The solos aren’t overdone, and showcase the fact Cat Redfern is an excellent guitarist on a technical level as well as being a heavy hitter. She plays with only a handful of pedals, but a lot of crunch and a big dense sound and big volume.

A big hairy moshpit happened during the last song, and the half dozen beardy guys going crackers down the front was enough to bring the band back for one more, and they encore with ‘Unreal’, to an even more vibrant response. For a hot Thursday night when people would have likely been lured to a beer garden to toast the announcement of the Prime Minister’s departure, albeit at some time in the future, and for a stand-in headline slot, REDFYRN delivered a commanding performance and owned the night. Having only recently found themselves in headline slots, REDFYRN look ready to take it to the next level.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s always good to be back at Wharf Chambers, and this actually my first visit this year. Since my last trip, the cost of a train from York to Leeds has absolutely rocketed. It wasn’t that long ago that an off-peak day return for the 23-minute journey was about eleven quid. Now it’s more than £17, plus booking fee. Pre-lockdown, late 2019, it was around £15. This is the cost-of living crisis and inflation in sharp relief. It may only be a couple of quid, but as a percentage, it’s substantial, and when you apply the same kind of increase to everything… My dayjob pay hasn’t gone up by anything like as much, and we know that rail workers’ wages haven’t. But the consequence is that I have to be more selective about what gigs I travel to attend, which means in turn lower attendance for live acts, and less beer sold by venues, and so on. Thankfully, with shows at Wharf Chambers, I can offset the travel costs with decent hand-pulled beer at £3.40 a pint. When was the last time you paid under £3.50 for a pint?

It’s not all about the cheap beer, of course. Live music is always about more than just the music, though: it’s about the whole experience, and Wharf Chambers is a great venue with a great vibe that hosts great bands, and there are two on tonight’s bill.

Fuzz Lightyear are infinitely better than their somewhat flippant name, which doesn’t particularly convey what they do. Sure, there’s distortion, but the guitars take second seat to busy, heavyweight drumming on songs that feature abundant tempo changes, and are weighty, and shouty. Post rock collides with Fugazi. I’m a sucker for the full tom roll rhythm, and the drummer absolutely nails it on the third song. There’s a dash of Trail of Dead in the mix, and the bassist’s manic eyes are as compelling as anything. It’s a solid set, with a lot of range, that sets things up nicely ahead of the headliners.

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Fuzz Lightyear

Deaf Kids start gently with something of an ambient intro. It’s dark, and they move as shadows. There are drums played with elbows amidst drone noise. And it builds… and builds… and then it bursts. And how!

The Brazilian trio aren’t your staple Neurot act: instead of slow-lugubrious, rust-stained metal, this is a band with a vibrancy and an energy that’s positively eye-popping. It’s as if they’ve bottled everything since the release of their last album, Metaprogramação and are finally letting it all out. The set feels less like a succession of songs than a continuous overall work. They play in almost complete darkness. Briefly, there’s a percussive break that’s almost a mellow conga, but then it builds again before it explodes. The set is punctuated by bursts of noise, and – additional djembe breaks aside – it sounds like there are two drummers… There’s just ss much percussion, and so much urgency, and so much energy.

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Deaf Kids

And I realise on reflection, as I relive the immense buzz of the show, that chuntering about the price of trains from York to Leeds is likely nothing compared to the effort of transporting a band from Brazil to play in post-Brexit Britain in a venue with a sub-200 capacity. Really, we’re spoiled. I can only hope we continue to be.