TOP 5 LIVE of 2007
December 24, 2007
Marzuraan had the great honour of opening this gig & we played probably the best set we’d ever done so I was already on a high. Daniel Higgs was just fantastic, it was a very intimate performance that seemed like we could’ve all been watching him play on his back porch in Baltimore. One dude, his banjo & occasional Jew’s harp creating a very intense immersion in starkness. His voice carried so much power & the stories it carried so compelling. After the gig I had the great fortune to converse with Higgs who has been a personal hero since ‘Rainbows from Atoms’. He was a true gentleman with an exceptionally genuine manner. Definite highlight of 2007 if not the decade.
Interesting venue for this one: the Baltic centre for contemporary arts, Gateshead. Gig was on the cafe mezzanine level with a great view of the river Tyne & its bridges. It was hard to tell when Al Cisneros began playing his bass if things were starting or if it was a soundcheck. The massive wall of subsonic overdrive drew the excited crowd toward the stage area like the pied piper & continued to hypnotize & pummel for the next hour (much like the hideous weather conditions outside). In fact the bass was so loud it masked even the brutal drum pounding , the soundguy really needed to sort his shit out here. Om forced their will via unrelenting riffs at crushing volume, the pace barely altering until the airing of some faster new material. I’d definitely hope to see Om in the future.
Took a whistle stop trip down to London in August with Lee & Stuwa to watch them play Daydream nation in full at the Roundhouse. It was the second time I’d seen SY play, the first was at ATP in 2000 which really sucked! Sutcliffe Jugend opened the evening & were rather awful… I left halfway through when one of the middle aged pair started throwing his guitar around, it looked pretty pathetic. The merch table was fucking rammed but I desperately wanted the classic SST era Sonic Life shirt, the rest of the shirts looked a bit too hipster gash. The actual SY set was by no means as mind blowing as it would’ve been two decades ago but it was ‘good’ in a nostalgic sense to hear this stuff live again. The sound suffered slightly in the huge aircraft hangar sized circular space. The drums barrelled around, the bass frequencies disappeared but the vocals/guitars sounded fine. Renaldo & Moore changed guitars every single song! Overall a pleasant evening that warrants its place in this end of year list.
I think this was the second actual BIG ROCK gig I have attended. The tickets were running at nearly £40 which is pocket hurts for anyone but damn this is RUSH pretty much an all time favourite! I couldn’t actually believe they were playing here. The Arena was packed out & the atmosphere was excellent, people were fully loving it. Because there was no support we actually missed 2 songs thinking they were playing intro music over the P.A. bit gutted about this cos they opened with ‘Signals’ material which i doubt they’d played live in over 20 years. That aside it was back to back nailing of all the classics & a big portion of ‘Snakes and Arrows’ material. All expectations were met & exceeded with the biggest stage show ever, huge video screens, light show, pyrotechnics the works.
I don’t really want to get into the history of Drill here, you can read all about that on their website. Needless to say this was their first time playing live since 1995! Their unconventional set up of 3 guitarists, 2 bassists & programmed drums seemed to throw a few people but it churned out a wall of sound that was 10 miles high & rhythmically devastating in its exactness. The Drill sound is hard to pinpoint… it lies somewhere between the 80s NYC guitar noise of Band of Susans, Sonic Youth, Live Skull etc. & the complexity of Bastro/Bitch Magnet but with a locked in groove akin to Godflesh or Tool . It’s a shame more people didn’t see this great North East band play again, I hope they do more in 2008… starting with recording some new tracks!