Saturday, 11 November 2017

The Horrors at Koko

I do like Koko. A weird, small venue with a somewhat louche ambience and decor. I was at this gig on my own, so arrived early and rather than take up my usual spot at the front I took a place on the first balcony - apart from the downstairs floor the theatre has a number of rapidly rising tiers.

  I also had a good view over all the gizmos.

 The opening act was a band called Baba Naga, although they never mentioned that, nor interacted with the audience at all. I had to search the internet afterwards for their name. I wanted to make sure I avoided the in the future. They were an awful modern version of a prog rock band whose lead singer's face never once appeared from behind a curtain of long hair.

Their performance could best be summed up by the young lady next to me who at the end spontaneously cried "Thank God that's over!" If you think that sounds bad, well all I can say is that you weren't there. It was worse than words can adequately describe.


Now I don't know what's wrong with the Horrors. Something must be as I couldn't get any of my mates to go and see them, and my gig circle is wide enough now that usually someone I know will like a band. And I think they are very good. They are possibly best described as a Goth band, and that's their look, which may put people off a bit. But their music isn't desperately goth, more mainstream indie rock. Lead singer Faris Badwan is no great looker so that probably doesn't help, although with enough dry ice and black hair one doesn't notice.

But this was really great show, fine songs from 5 albums they have behind them, including their latest V. As custom has it they opened with Hologram which starts the new album, completing their encore with in my view the best track off the album, Something to Remember Me By. And the light and laser show was better than one expects at such a small venue. All in all an enjoyable night, even if all on my own.

 A quick costume change at the interval into what looked like lab coats.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Dead Kennedys

After Slowdive the night before, it would be pretty hard to find a greater contrast than the Dead Kennedys. From nineties shoegazing to geriatric punks.

First to say, Islington Academy is a weird venue. Its purpose built and small, but the weird bit is its in the middle of a shopping centre. And then of course the audience is weird. A few young punks, a lot of respectable middle-aged folk like ourselves, and then the really weird middle-aged punks. Fat old blokes in a vest and with a mohican.

"We are too old to be punks" shouts the lead singer, "and so are you!" he declares to the audience. He is of course right. But it is quite fun. I particularly love the way these elderly gentlemen have retained their punk names like "Klaus Flouride."

Now, the Dead Kennedys were never at the real forefront of punk. Their twist was humour and satire more than disillusioned angry nihilism. Hence songs like Holidays in Cambodia (their best known) California Uber Alles and Kill the Poor. And how do times change? Holidays in Cambodia now could be a slogan for an upmarket travel company rather than a reference to one of the worst regimes in human history. Pol Pot seems a distant memory, whereas punk is an ongoing nostalgia trip.

Of course, musically this genre has its limitations. You can't do  lot with three minutes thrashes. You can't add a horn section. It is what it is and always will be. I am just glad that I persuaded Kieron to leave the pub after an hour and go in. We missed all but he last song of support act Loom, but if we had gone in about 9 pm as I think Kieron would normally prefer, we would have missed pretty much the whole set. It was over fairly quickly and started early, and we were in a shopping centre. But that was fine. It was all we wanted of them, and there is a pub across the road, and it was a mild night. All good.

This is Klaus Fluoride. Not your idea of a snarling punk? More nice old gentleman who has just popped into the Post Office to collect his pension?Age affects us all. But often in a kindly way.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Slowdive at the Roundhouse

This was a long Friday, but a very enjoyable one. It started with having to get up to Leeds for a 10am meeting, so that was an early start. I woke up about 5am. I don't really like early mornings.

Was back about 5pm, and then had to wait to round up my two friends to see Slowdive at the Roundhouse.  Now it is highly unlikely yo will have even heard of Slowdive. They are a nineties shoe-gazer band (so called as they tend to look down at their feet while playing guitar). We got there too late for the support act, and indeed the place was pretty packed. Couldn't quite get as close to the stage as I would have liked. They had just produced their first new album in a couple of decades, but their following was still there, emerging from the shadows. And their music is quite sublime, but far from the 3 minute pop-song. Their tracks waft gently. Amongst my other favourite bands Portishead perhaps come closest, in the suppressed power of their music. Their tracks feel like they will burst forth at some point, but they never do. They tease. Like Portishead they have high pitched female vocals (from Rachel Goswell) to call upon over the top of the guitars.

This was not an exciting live performance. Neil Halstead, main vocalist, makes absolutely minimal contact with the audience beyond a polite thank you for us turning up. But the music is beautiful. 

Rachel Goswell

Neil Halstead

The band finished about 11pm, but the guys were up for a couple of pints so we reconvened in Joe's across the road. Unfortunately the laid back American rock that was on there when we met yup before the gig was replaced with a DJ and American funk at ear splitting levels, so we wandered further into Camden to find a quieter pub in which to resume our conversation about music. A very good evening with some very knowledgeable (as well as nice guys). And finally night bus home. In bed about 2am. A 21 hour day