Monday, 16 January 2012

Secret Midgarden party. Midgar Live. Oh, and Maybeshewill as a bonus.

Press To Meco
The Perfect Crime

93 Feet East Shoreditch 11th January 2012

I’ve got to admit, it was my first time at this hipster venue tucked away at the solemn and shadowy end of London’s achingly fashionable Brick Lane. But, excitedly and full of meat products and new world wine (following a tortuous industry dinner) I skipped into the unknown ready to be wowed by Midgar et al. Well, due to my tardiness, just Midgar and Atum actually - I sadly missed The Perfect Crime and Press To Meco.

An encouraging start; the room was a good old size with a big raised stage, a retro Bakerlite front of house PA, a well-stocked bar and a smattering of what looked like industry types mingling with scene refugees and trendy web developers . But it was only a smattering. Disappointingly.

First up were Atum (after an interminable sound check.) A five piece from North West London Town apparently. I had no idea what to expect but was ready to be impressed.

Michael Hupping, the singer looked like a mod on the run or a cross between a Gallagher brother and Joey Barton and he was clutching drumsticks. No idea why. Didn’t see him do anything with them, but clutching them he was.

The set started and slid into a pleasant enough melange of a proggy vibe with an indie backbone via Tool and Karnivool with dollops of whisked up Kasabian, subtle hints of Deftones on a bed of freshly picked Intronaut.

A heady mix. It kind of worked in places but was a little bland and flat in others. But the cavernous and empty venue did little to heighten the flavours. Add in a terrible sound and some fairly terminal tuning issues and the overall aftertaste was nowhere near as good as it could have been.

Saying all that, despite Hupping looking like a heroin mod chic extra on Casualty, he had some vocal chop. A pretty spectacular range; from a controlled low end Stuart Staplesesque baritone to a soaring Jeff Buckley higher register. And some of the tunes weren’t at all bad. Would like to give them another chance in a fuller, smaller venue with better sound and the use of a guitar tuner wouldn’t go amiss.

So, my second starter of the evening seen off, what would the main event serve up?


I’d rather hope the disappointingly flaccid crowd would swell to the size of a Blue Whale’s woodie for Midgar. But, sadly and unbelievably it got to about a 20% lazy lob and that would just have to do.

Maybe it was the choice of venue. The time of year. The lack of listings or people being skint, but it staggers me that one of the UK’s greatest young musical talents didn’t pack the hipster hall to its rafters. They deserve to.

No matter, I was lucky enough to be here and was salivating at the prospect.

Vennart/Wilson-Taylor. The transformation continues.
At first I didn’t recognise Andy Wilson-Taylor. All short hair and school shirt. The metamorphosis into Mike Vennart from the brilliant but sadly defunct Oceansize (btw, check out his brilliant new project with The Gambler at is almost complete. But as he sauntered onto the stage, the whale’s penis throbbed more than a little, the band struck up a hearty tune and we were off.

Midgar are a mash up of many influences, genres and styles. Sweeping arpeggios, intricate tapped and swept guitar work, heavy as hell drops and riffage, triggered 808s, harmonics, orchestral samples all Araldited together with a tight as a rusted Scammel wheel nut rhythm section and all topped with Wilson-Taylor’s masterful, mesmerising, powerful, hypnotic and other-worldly vocals

The Welcomed New Member of Midgar
There are traces of Muse, hints of Vex Red, Thrice, InMe and Incubus (before they turned into Richard Clayderman and Kenny G with a crap wedding DJ), and even Chopin and Debussy. Yup, this evening Mr Wilson-Taylor got all Vladimir Horowitz or André Previn on our arse and played live keys on a couple of tracks. Brilliantly by the way.

Their set tonight was primarily made up of new stuff. And bloody great new stuff at that.

There were a couple of older faves thrown in – Set closer, Karmic Retribution and the always wonderful Vincent’s Masquerade (no Colour Us or Lead Your Children To The Sky – with or without Steve ‘The Dude’ Sitkowski – though) but tonight was a celebration of the future. And what a future it threatens to be.

The PA didn't help
Sadly I didn’t catch the names of most of the new songs (I think one was called Neptune) but without exception, they were of the very highest quality. They happily contrast lighter, harmonic and melodic themes with ball-crushing, percussive riffage and marry haunting beauty with brutal uppercuts to the unsuspecting underbelly. A truly intoxicating and breathtaking set performed exquisitely (despite the slightly less than Hi-fidelity Bakerlite powered sound). It would have been a 5* otherwise.

It will be a heinous crime if these boys have to play in many more half-empty toilets. They deserve a bigger stage. A bigger blue whale’s penis and I can’t wait to see them again and for the new album.  I know Alex Baker on Kerrang! Radio is a fan and does his bit, but more people need to hear this lot. They deserve a wider audience. Here’s hoping they manage to hop onto the festival carousel this summer and charm the nation's earholes.

In the meantime, brilliant stuff tonight. Here’s to much, much more to come.

As a footnote, Wilson-Taylor mentioned they were in the process of trying to find the right producer for the new record - how about this for an idea? Dan Lancaster of Proceed and studio Glass Eye. Just imagine….oh god, the whale’s awakening at the prospect.

Been rubbish and away, so completely forgot to post the review of the absolutely stunning Maybeshewill Christmas Spectacular at The Lexington. So here it is. A review of the absolutely stunning Maybeshewill Christmas Spectacular at The Lexington.

Cats And Cats And Cats*****
A Genuine Freakshow*****

The Lexington Islington 15th December 2011

Packed house. Bursting at the seams. Lots of Christmas cheer. Many elaborately knitted sweaters and more than a few novelty santa hats.

A Genuine Freakshow*****
A Genuine Cat Show. No, wait a minute...
First up are  A genuine Freakshow. I’ll be honest, I only caught the last couple of tunes. But I liked what I heard. And saw. A lot. A rag bag jug band come school orchestra packed the stage and the complex, rousing ‘new country’ sounds packed the room. A cross between Death Cab For Cutie, Sigur Ros, The Whitest Boy Alive and Oceansize with horns, strings, melotron and spiralling harmonies. Enchanting. Simply enchanting.

Cats And Cats And Cats*****
Next Up were an equally vast array of folky jumpers, instruments and hair. Possessing one of the finest names in rock music, at first listen and glance , Cats And Cats And Cats could be from the same double yolked egg as A Genuine Freakshow. But on closer inspection, they’re more ramshackle. More discordant, rougher round the edges and slightly darker than the previous jug band. 

There's a cat in me kitchen what am I going to do?
There are definite DNA similarities with Gong and the Bonzos. A sense of the bizarre and dishevelled art school disquiet. A kind of very British Arcade Fire with pop and folk overtones. And I loved it. I’m not totally sure if these two bands are genre defining, or indeed, if they fit comfortably into a genre at all, but file in the same cider crate as My First Tooth, Liam Frost’s now sadly defunt Slowdown Family and even Copenhagen’s wonderful Alcoholic Faith Mission and we’re not far off an ‘ism’.

I’m a gobby, verbose shite and never knowingly shut up. But tonight I am rendered virtually speechless. The Leicester 5 piece (plus strings) completely took my breath, heart and words away. They effortlessly but passionately and gorgeously treat the adoring throng to a run through of their masterpiece I Was Here For A Moment, Then I was Gone. The whole album. Back to back. In all its glory. All its light and shade. All its beauty. All its brutality. All its brilliance.

Wow. Just wow. The place turned into a worshipful writhing mass of appreciation and love. The band were obviously feeding of this unbelievable energy. They smiled. They preened. They pranced. They fucking loved it. And so did we all.

Instrumental music can, to some, appear unfinished or incomplete. These people are nicompoops, ninnies and ne’erdowells. Maybeshewill, along with bands like ASIWYFA and Yndi Helda prove (as if it were needed) that  lyrics and vocals are not always needed to convey the most amazing emotion. To transport the mind. To entrance, amaze and stun. Well, it didn’t stop Sibelius, Elgar or Mozart, did it?

After the album recital, the boys gleefully clambered back onto the stage and further massaged the love-struck Yuletide revellers with three encores including the heart-stopping Paris Hilton Sex Tape. A true privilege to have been there. A magical, emotional, beautiful and stunning evening that will go down as one of the very best. 

The ever remarkable Xcerts next.

More tunes soon. Bwoooar.

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