Ok, I’ve just got back from France where I went, as a birthday treat to myself, to check out the new Loop line-up 😀 . This was at the Levitation Festival** in Angers (Anjou), organised by Austin Psych Fest. I saw some other good bands too (and some absolute donkeys), but this is all about Loop.
New Loop? Regular readers (seriously, are there any? Well, Badger maybe, but anyone else? Ho hum) will have noticed that I have a bit of a penchant for the music and extreme volume of Loop. The earlier Loop (indeed, earlier Loops, plural), was, and is, very special to me but this is one of those moments when there’s a switch. The Gilded Eternity Loop of Hampson, Dowson, Mackay and Wills is officially no more and there’s a whole new Loop of Hampson, Boyd, Morgan and Maskell***.
The set list went (please forgive me if I’ve got any of these wrong. I’ve got a memory like a sieve) Soundhead; The Nail Will Burn; Pulse; Straight to Your Heart; Fade Out; Collision (cue furious moshing from the crowd); Arc Lite (continued furious moshing); Forever; Vapour; Burning World (cue furious snogging from the sweethearts in front of me ). No newies I’m afraid. We’ll just have to wait for those.
I think that I should stress here that what follows is observation, not judgement.
It’s difficult to resist the urge to compare, especially as they were playing old Loop songs, but I can really hear the differences. When you’ve been listening to particular songs for 25 years you get to know every beat and strum. Hugo’s bass-playing is pretty different to Neil’s, so I could really hear the differences there, especially on Burning World (again, not a criticism, just an observation. There’s no reason why Hugo should sound like Neil.). And of course Wayne’s drumming is quite different to John’s, but Wayne has been playing with Loop for a few months now, so he’s already a familiar part of this musical landscape. With new material these differences in style won’t be so apparent, so all the more reason for new Loop songs 😀 Newie-newness please 😀 (I don’t want much, do I?). Oh, and Dan’s guitar was way too quiet. Seriously, TURN IT UP!
Now the judgement…
So, were they any good?
Well, yes actually.
They did start off sounding a bit tentative. I’d be very surprised if they weren’t all feeling a bit apprehensive as this headline slot is their first ever gig together (as far as I’m aware there were no warm-ups, no low key pre-festival gigs. Talk about deep ends!). They did seem to settle in really quickly though and it actually felt like they’d relaxed. I guess that the whole run-up must be pretty nerve-wracking but once you’re actually playing, you just get into it. Dan’s guitar was too quiet and the whole thing could have been louder. I should fess up here though. I like the volume to be absolutely skull-shattering, so it probably was quite loud. Just not loud enough for me. Basically, if I can hear myself think afterwards, it wasn’t loud enough. But they did gel and that’s pretty good going, to sound so together right off the bat.
The crowd was really responsive and there was a bit of a mosh-pit, stagediving, crowd-surfing and all that. This was quite hilarious to me, as most of my back-in-the-day experiences of Loop involved getting kicked in the head by stagedivers. That hasn’t happened in a while so I came over all nostalgic 😆 You could tell that Robert is all grown up now because he told people to be careful rather than just letting them go ahead and half kill each other 🙂 .
When he introduced Straight to Your Heart Robert said that it was for anyone who had seen them play in Paris a few months ago. I saw them play in Paris a few months ago so you know what? I’m owning that one 😀 .
So I hope that they enjoyed the gig and that they want to keep on with Loop. They do have at least another couple of gigs scheduled for November in the Netherlands (which I can’t go to 😦 ) but I hope that there’ll be more. And new material too. It is worth it and it’ll mean that we have a whole new band to love.
Long Live Loop.
* ” http://www.glassdarkly.com/LOOP-PAGE.html – I’ve just HAD to Anglicize the spelling. I can’t bear the absence of ‘u’s.
*** That’s Robert Hampson – Mr Loop; Dan Boyd – Brightonian and arch Loop fan; Hugo Morgan- better known as the bass player from The Heads; and Wayne Maskell – The Heads’ drummer and, latterly, Loop’s very own Animal.
I did lots of other, non-Loop, things in Angers, and I even found some Roman stuff, so if you have any interest at all in non-Loop Angers, look out for that.