Monday 14 January 2013

Punishment of Luxury and Spiritwo at Mother Bar - 11 January 2013

Punishment of Luxury

I usually write these snippets on the train home after the gig. When I type them up, they’re usually just about long enough to fill an A4 piece of paper.

I could write a novel about tonight.

The first thing is the venue itself. Mother has been refurbished since I was last here, on entering the bar upstairs I am greeted with a ping pong ball whistling past my ear. There is so much space that they’ve got their own table tennis table. Warning kids:- Don’t drink and smash.

The venue where the bands play is situated downstairs. All walls are covered throughout by luxuriant long grey fur. Entering through a narrow stairwell is very…Freudian.

It’s also kind of comforting. At various times this evening I happen across people stood around quietly stroking the walls.

I’m always on the look out for things that are new and exciting. Spiritwo are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. They start off weird and don’t let up.

Vocalist Yael Claire Shamoon has two microphones. One enables her to sing. The other distorts her voice into the rumbling bass of Satan himself. 

The songs are dramatic and florid. Yael rolls her eyes, curls back her lips to expose her teeth and writhes and contorts. The passion and emotion of the performance is genuinely scary. This is Exorcist:The Gig.

At one point during the proceedings, between the wailing and Eastern European-tinged ululating, the singer starts whipping herself with what looks like a floor length handful of human hair.

I like Spiritwo a great deal and would recommend their records too.

The first band aside, this is very much a veteran’s night and acts don’t come much more veteran than the Bermondsey Joyriders. The blues rock trio are fronted by Gary Lammin and Martin Stacey, who musicologists might be able to place as ex-members of early punk band Chelsea.

They are spectacularly dressed as something between pearly kings and Clockwork Orange droogs. They both sport vast mutton chop whiskers. Despite their age they both look well dangerous.

It’s a shame that their music doesn’t really excite. Despite the urgings of a vocal contingent of supporters, the songs don’t really get to be much more than basic ‘Tab A goes into Slot A’ by-the-numbers pub rock.  All involved have a good time (which is after all, the point of all this), but it doesn’t really grab me.

I have been waiting all my life to see Punishment of Luxury. Their seminal album ‘Laughing Academy’ was my absolute favourite when growing up in the late Seventies, but by the time I was old enough to move to London and see gigs, the band were long gone.

But now, incredibly and some forty years later, they are back. And although tonight’s show is firmly rooted in nostalgia, there is new material too.

From the moment that Brian Bond marches onto the stage in a white lab coat and sings “The Message”, while Neville Luxury stands next to him blasting out a ludicrously complicated guitar solo and the time signatures are all over the place, I know that this is not going to disappoint.

Punilux never fitted comfortably into the new wave music scene or even punk. They were proggy, not remotely serious and unlike anything else around.

Despite never extending beyond five minutes, a typical Punishment of Luxury song usually consists of at least three distinct movements, none of which appear to be musically related to each other. These are stories, vignettes that allow for the maximum amount of theatricality.

Bond is a natural showman. Heavily influenced by early Peter Gabriel, for each song he adopts a different persona. It might be a lecherous businessman (‘British Baboon’), a mad scientist (‘The Message’) or a jellyfish (er…’Jellyfish’). Bond gurns and grins, his eyebrows going up and down like a Thunderbird puppet.

The fans of course just love it. What heartens me is that the group that I have dragged along here tonight and who know nothing of the band, really enjoy it too.

There are a couple of new songs. These fit in very well with the rest of the set.

Things end with a blast through ‘Engine of Excess’, ‘Brainbomb’ and ‘Puppet Life’.

The year is off with one hell of a bang.

Thursday 3 January 2013

Call of the Wyld Review of 2012

Drop Out Venus  (Dan Kendall)

Another year heedlessly hoofed into the long grass of history. So long, 2012, how will we remember you?

In January I encountered FOE twice and swiftly came to realise that Hannah Clark is a performer who can radically alter her sound as the occasion suits and that she is constantly evolving. At the Barfly, FOE were a gonzoid metal wall of sound and all the better for it. By the time I saw her again later in the year, things had changed yet again.

That Barfly gig also featured Fever Fever, who were tight and fierce and fun, but who sadly didn’t survive as a band to see the year out. Good luck to them with future projects.

February was ushered in by a scuffle in the crowd watching Charli XCX at the Lexington and wild scenes as Japanese Queen tribute band Queer tore up the Pipeline.

February also introduced me to Drop Out Venus, and everything changed thereafter.

When I first saw the band at the Roundhouse Studios, they completely side-swiped me. I wasn’t even sure that I liked them, but I knew that they were different from anything that I had seen in years. I was so intrigued that I threw away expensive tickets for another show to instead catch the band for free at the Old Blue Last a few days later. That performance turned out to be so emotionally overwhelming that even the band seemed surprised by it. And I was hooked on the exploits of Iva, Chris and Urs from then on.

I’ve followed Drop Out Venus avidly since that date and never been disappointed – whether they were playing to a handful of disinterested ten pin bowlers in Bloomsbury or terrorising an unsuspecting crowd at Somerset House who thought that they were going to get something smooth and uplifting before Charlotte Gainsbourg came on.

I think Drop Out Venus are just great. I heartily commend them to you both live and on record, with the warning that your mind might get blown as mine was.

I was happy in March to reacquaint myself with the Chapman Family, who positively seethed with anger and frustration at the Bull & Gate. This gig was also my first exposure to the new ‘witchy’ direction of Call of the Wyld faves Cold In Berlin. Maya and co could not put on a poor performance if their lives depended on it, but I must admit that I am not a wholehearted fan of their current material.

I loved Those Darlins’ at the Lexington and experienced an extraordinary show from Public Image Ltd at Heaven. Lydon and co were on top form and played for hours, John dancing and cackling like a maniac shaman.

Having enjoyed that show so much, later in the year I gathered a large group of mates to see PiL at the Forum. This time the band were listless, leaden and bad tempered. It was the biggest disappointment of 2012.

The Camden Crawl was a festival of two halves, with the Saturday very much better than the Sunday. Great performances from Mowbird, Trwbador, Antlered Man and Sauna Youth.

In 2012 I did a couple of stints at the Troxy to see returning rock royalty. Garbage and Patti Smith were both excellent, although I am not a fan of the venue.

A vintage 1234 Shoreditch included my first encounters with La Femme and Public Service Broadcasting, both of whom I saw later headlining shows in their own right. The French rockers absolutely tore the roof off the Barfly and delivered what may well be the most purely deliriously fun gig of 2012; PSB lay waste to my ears at XOYO.

I had fun with Charlotte Church at Water Rats and then saw a steaming set from Savages at Electrowerkz.

The year ended strongly with blinding performances from Polica, The Raveonettes and Dragonette.

A damn fine year and the prospect of doing it all again in 2013.

Stick around…Stay Wyld.