Lydia Lunch and The Big Sexy Noise Live 1st July 2012

At the O2 Acadamy Islington

Das Flüff

Das Flüff are a dark, sexy synth rock act. Fronted by Dawn Lintern with an image like an intense Alison Goldfrapp at a funeral. Seductive as if on a razors edge. The talented guitarist and keyboard player remaining in the background. The limelight focused solely on the voice harbinger of a darker time.

The Cesarians

The Cesarians were the band with the largest lineup of the night. And what an eclectic set of instruments and looks there were amongst them. The band consisted of a 1950s rhythm section of bass and drums. A gothic punk brass section  dressed in black, a hipster violinist and a 1920s pianist. This energetic, instrument swapping enterage was fronted by a man channelling Brian Ferry mixed with Jarvis Cocker.

This large lineup allowed for some large dynamics within the band. From serene and singing to a level of aggression that its refreshing to see in a band without a guitarist, they had it all covered.

Lydia Lunch and The Big Sexy Noise

“We are The Big Sexy Noise and we sound like this”

You can’t get more direct than that for an opening. Brash but understated guitarist and a good drummer joined Lydia. They have lost their keyboard/saxafonist since their last tour, but it didn’t really need it. If anything it added to the low-hi filth that accompanies their songs.

Sexy and to the point. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll about sums up the band. The gig had been delayed twice, but it was worth the wait. The rendition of Your Love Don’t Pay My Rent was more direct and vitriolic than in the studio. She made a point of insulting all the men in the front rows. Maybe this is why she doesn’t have wider appeal? Regardless, the crowd loved it.

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Hop Farm 2012 Saturday 30th June

I do love music festivals. Especially on a nice summer’s day. Where every hour is Pimms o’clock and the atmosphere is relaxed. Hop Farm is a small indie festival just outside the M25. Going for the weekend would have been nice, but impactical. A day trip, however, seemed too good to pass up on.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith was amazing. She was increbably comfortable on stage; understated and composed. Nothing about her stage presence detracted from her delivery.

From Dancing Barefoot to Gloria the entire set was compelling. Although the set may not have been the most diverse it flowed nicely and Gloria, the finale was brilliant.

It would have been nice to see Patti Smith the 1970s, but its good to see that time has not detracted from the intensity of her delivery and performance.

Gary Numan

Gary Numan put on a good rock show. Joined by a full band the older material was far more aggressive than in the studio. He was a brash yin to Patti Smith’s understated yang, despite them both being good performers.

Unfortunately, they clashed. In hindsight perhaps the billing for Maximo Park and Gary Numan should have been reversed. However, it is hard to gauge the popularity of a musician who, as the program stated, is known ‘for living in a cupboard in The Mighty Boosh’ with relatively few albums for the length of his career.

As a result I can’t tell how timeless his rendition of Cars was. What I did see was good. The versions of Metal and Are ‘Friends’ Electric were hard hitting and impressive. Festival sets can be disappointing, but this left me wanting more, so I would consider it a success.

The Headliners

Bob Dylan headlined the main stage. He is a fantastic songwriter and it was impossible to pass up the opportunity to see him live. There is no other place he could have been on the bill, but his live reputation is deservedly mixed. Whilst  the musical talent of both him and his band did shine, his style of songwriting is there to serve the lyrics. His voice, however, is shot.

After a few incomprehensible songs being unable to connect with the material I left to see the other acts. We settled on Peter Hook And The Light.

Peter Hook is the bassist from Joy Division and New Order, which is merit enough to catch my interest. We caught most of his set. None of the headliners were too inspiring, but there was some solid material and his style meshed most closely with my tastes.

Whether he was unsure of himself as a singer or the music itself I am unsure but he spent the entire set hiding behind his bass guitar, despite barely playing it. Even for the Joy Division songs that he had written he sang and little else.

I am glad to have seen versions of Transmission, She’s Lost Control and Love Will Tear Us Apart curated and performed by one of the original writers, but Peter Hook’s voice lacked the power of Ian Curtis. The renditions were good, but they lacked a certain edge. The only direct negative I can give is that I was disappointed to see Love Will Tear Us Apart turned into an upbeat pop anthem (despite it being mostly faithful).

Combichrist Live 28th June 2012

At The Electric Ballroom

Combichrist is the brainchild of Norweigan singer and EBM producer Andy LaPlegua. I’ve been a fan since the first hook I heard and after catching them on their last tour was happy to see them again. Joined by a full band their brand of aggressive dance music does not disappoint.

Second on the bill were Surgyn. Taking inspiration from vanity and pharmacology they are the Bioshock EBM band. They had a solid sound and a definite stage image but lacked a certain edge. Despite both members playing keyboards and singing there were moments where they risked playing DJ. There was potential for theatrics to match their melodrama, but the band failed to make the stage their own.

Relatively new to the scene, part of me wants to keep an eye on them. Give them a chance to gather scars and experience. I see potential if the band develops as they mature.

Third act was Jayce Lewis from South Wales. Mixing industrial with a strong synth element it was a little hard to tell what their sound was meant to be. Simple, but interesting, drums mixed with a percussive guitar and the occasional layers of percussion by the singer created the foundation of their sound. With the sound of the keyboards and the bass above and below they had all bases covered.

They did have a definite rock band feel, but at times it seemed as if the singer was trying a little too hard and that their electronic core was being drowned out.

Its good to see a live band evolve and Combichrist have returned with more kit than ever. Three drummers, two of which switch between drums and synths and a guitarist join front-man Andy LaPlegua. Despite all the extra instrumentation the band remains faithful to their albums, but with the layers of percussion adding another dimension to the sound.

Opening with just one accompanist Andy and the pre-records conducted the crowd into movement. As the show progressed the other musicians joined them, each bringing their own energy with them. Despite a mostly predictable set list it still felt fresh. A good mix of new and old material was played and there was a phenomenal amount of energy projected by the band. Touring off album allowed the freedom for more older material, particularly from What The Fuck Is Wrong With You.

The band dynamic was fantastic. The drummer was very stylistic and impressive. He bantered during the encores, kept throwing his kit around and was literally carried from the stage, still trying to drum at the end of the show. The guitarist was a little showy and the synthesists played with quiet intensity by comparison. All the while Andy was yelling and working the crowd.

After two encores we knew our shouts of ‘more’ were going to be unanswered, except for the sardonic rendition of Sinatra’s My Way playing into the dispersing crowd as we left elated.