This is a macho crowd. There are a very few women dotted about, but this is one for the short-haired older bloke, dressed in black, beer in hand. I fit right in.
This is the first of a pair of gigs that showcase semi-forgotten stalwarts of UK guitar rock Loop and Godflesh.
Tonight is Loop night, so it falls to Godflesh to open proceedings.
G.C. Green and Justin Broadrick are brutally minimalist and massively brutal. Two guys. One on guitar. One on bass. A pounding drum machine. That’s it. No frills, just thump.
The two bands tonight have some affinity, and have had members in common in the past. However, the two are very different in approach and it is clear from the reaction of the crowd stood around me that the reception they receive is quite mixed. The Loop fans appear underwhelmed by Godflesh. Tomorrow I’m sure the position will be reversed.
Godflesh have no embellishments. They thud along to their jackhammer beat. Video screens show images from Bosch and Bruegel of souls burning in the pits of hell. Godflesh chug through ‘Like Rats’ and whip up their own inferno.
I rather like Godflesh. I like their uncompromising nature. They have a sound and they stick to it. They take no prisoners.
I’m really excited to see Loop again. I caught them a few times back in the day, most memorably at ULU in May 1988, when they were just vague hairy figures moving through a fog of dry ice.
Tonight, the dry ice has gone, along with much of the hair. But the guitars remain.
They start off with signature track ‘Soundhead’ and I am instantly transported. Loop have a way of taking a riff for a walk, building layer upon layer of noise, usually topped off with a Robert Hampson guitar solo and vocal.
The crowd lurches and nods and follows the music down the rabbit hole. All the old favourites are here. ‘Pulse’, ‘Collision’, ‘Arc-Lite’. The guitars squall and even earplugs can’t prevent the feeling that the inside of your head is being pleasurably cored out.
What is remarkable about Loop is not just that they are still staggeringly good, but that they somehow never got the plaudits that they are due. In an alternate universe it would be My Bloody Valentine coming back from obscurity.
They end tonight with a version of Can’s ‘Mother Sky’, stretched out and distorted.
A truly extraordinary performance. A truly extraordinary band.
Loop - Now