Three days in May

Loop. Three nights of Loop. Three consecutive, ear bashing nights of Loop. 😀

Ear bashing night 1: Bristol Exchange

Bristol. The scene of past Loop disasters and past Loop triumphs.

I met fellow ‘enthusiast’ Dave in Bristol and we went for a nice cup of tea before the gig. Then we trolled along to The Exchange, running into Soundhead Martin and guitarist Dan in the pub.

Support for the night was by Salope (Gareth out of Anthroprophh, Big Naturals and Kuro), which consisted of a drone of electric cello and theramins. I rather liked this.

When Loop came onstage to their usual drone-intro, which is when I always get a bit excited, they launched straight into The Nail Will Burn. The set included several older tracks and two tracks from the most recent Array 1 ep, Precession and Aphelion but, alas, not the groovy Radial.

Collision sounded great and Arc Lite was spot on 😀 Ending on Burning World is a lovely way to go out too.

I’d say that this was a good solid Loop gig, very enjoyable and a great start to the weekend of Loop gigs.

Set list:

Ear bashing night 2: London, Raw Power Festival

Baba Yaga’s Hut, one of the best London promoters, also presents one of the best London weekenders, Raw Power, now in its fourth year. At The Dome (Boston Arms) in Tufnell Park from Friday to Sunday evening various levels of psych heaviosity is hurled out onto an expectant audience. This year included some Loop heaviosity.

As is the way with me, I didn’t go for the whole day straight through. The Dome is not far from where I live so I can pop in and out. This time I popped in for Japanese New Music Festival (brilliant and hilarious), Qujaku (scary wailing), Cosmic Dead (very hairy) and, obviously, Loop. I think that Loop worked really well in the context of this event. They’re heavy enough to hold their own in the assembled line-up but also dancey enough for people who don’t really know them to just have a good old frug. The sound at the Dome was pretty well spot on so we were getting all the volume and distortion as it’s meant to sound without any mess or superfluous fuzz.

The audience was upbeat and totally went with the band on this journey into sound 😀 Robert was pretty jolly too so there was a nice level of banter: audience member, “play Fix to Fall”,  Robert, ” we can’t play that. It’s too hard” and (while tuning his guitar) “I’m having trouble with my g-string” (how we laughed!).

The setlist was the same as in Bristol.

Ear bashing night 3: Manchester, Transformer Festival

Ooh, controversy. When The Victoria Warehouse announced the ‘too good to be true’ line-up which included Swans, The Fall, Royal Trux and, of course, Loop, the gig-hivemind drew in its collective breath and said, “smells like Barry Hogan”. Barry Hogan; he of a swathe of ATP triumphs and disasters. This assumed connection, together with a couple of, frankly, disastrous and heavily criticized events at the Victoria Warehouse seemed to really put people off buying tickets, despite the hilariously cheap price.

Sure enough, when we got to the venue it was nowhere near full. On the plus side, this made it a much more comfortable experience than friends of mine have had there in the past; no queues for the bar or loos, no crushes getting into the different rooms, plenty of space to just hang out with friends and we were able to actually see the bands. On the minus side, the lack of bodies may have contributed to the extremely echoey sound, rattling around inside this giant box. The Fall sounded (from the back of the main room) like they were playing in a tin can and Loop’s set was definitely affected by an eerie echo.

It sounded like they spent the first couple of songs battling valiantly with the sound onstage before giving up on subtlety and wacking everything up to 11. I think that Wayne (drums) in particular, was having to work extremely hard to hold it all together.

Nevertheless, Loop playing a ridiculously loud, ridiculously heavy set in a disused warehouse is a scenario that I can happily get behind and I enjoyed the gig enormously, despite the problems. And I wasn’t the only one. New best occasional pal Rob was seeing Loop  for only the second time and responded with a level of joie de vivre that is to be applauded. He was giving out badges!

So, of the three nights, I enjoyed all of them but the London gig was the best. A great atmosphere, pretty heavy playing and excellent sound all worked together to make this the best one. Lots of Soundheads were out and about over the weekend so it was also nice to see people and catch up with them (you all know who you are. Thanks for being great company x).

And now I’m looking forward to Liverpool Psych Fest in September for some more Loop action.

PLAY RADIAL!!

Teenage Fanclub and Friends

Christmas 1990.

At The Venue in New Cross, we celebrated the season with music, booze, fun, booze, youthful hijinks, booze and spray snow. And booze.

Teenage Fanclub played with a range of pals including the BMX Bandits, The Pastels, Primal Scream, Robert Hampson (from Loop), Eugene Kelly and the amazing Duglasettes (AKA Chantelle in the silver dress).

This is one of those nights that I thought I’d imagined. I had a vague recollection of Teenage Fanclub playing with Loop but that just sounded so unlikely. And then I found the photos.

The image quality is universally terrible because the photos were taken by a drunk person with a crappy disposable camera. The venue also seems to have been incredibly smokey. Or maybe the film is fogged. Or both. Probably both.

 

Looking at some of these pictures, it looks like I may even have been climbing the speaker stack in my glee. I’m an old lady now and my speaker-stack-climbing days are over (you’ll be pleased to hear).

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Soundheads-on-Sea

I’ve been on my travels again (blogs coming later) but I had barely touched down when I was off again. From Tehran to Prestatyn. Do I know how to live, or do I know how to live?

After an early morning fight from Tehran (+3.5hrs time difference, fact fans) and a journey time of around fifteen hours, you won’t be surprised to hear that I was pretty tired, and I wouldn’t have done this for just anyone, so you know what’s coming next…

Loop. (whoop whoop!)

I was pretty wild about the fact that Loop played a gig in Manchester while I was still in Tehran 😥 . They, apparently, played a good’un, but at least a stroke of good fortune had allowed me to come to the ATP Festival at Pontins, Prestatyn for the evening* to catch their set there. The weather in Prestatyn wasn’t quite as good as in Tehran.

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Hooking up once more with the awesome Soundheads of the Edinburgh Chapter, Ellen and Simon, we made a point of getting to the front for Loop’s set.

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The set list for this gig was great, starting with old favourite Afterglow and taking in three out for the four tracks on the most recent ep. It was fantastic to hear Radial live and it set off quite a frenzy of shimmying from the crowd.

Unfortunately they didn’t do the encore tracks on the setlist. I don’t know if this was because of time.

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There was some hilariously drunk heckling from the lads from Younghusband (their album has been produced by Robert, so they’re pals), including a disastrous stage-diving attempt which just ended with a loud thud.

At these types of festivals, most people stay onsite in the holiday camp chalets but I found the whole holiday camp thing a bit alarming. When I first walked onto the site, I felt quite sure that I was going to be attacked by a psychotic clown at any moment,

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so I was staying in a hotel right next to the camp, on the seafront.

The Prestatyn seafront in November o_O

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As I said, I was pretty tired, so I was glad of a nice quiet bedroom to collapse into. And so, mind racing, ears screaming, I drifted off into a delicious Loop-infused slumber.

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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*Thanks to ATP

Also thanks for the security guy from London for the set list, and to Dan for the life-saving coffee.

I managed to grab a few film clps:

Aphelion: https://youtu.be/jn8FP2HD2Q0

ArcLite: https://youtu.be/vQvfFCCd3Yc

Forever: https://youtu.be/0NrUOp9K8cA

Radial: https://youtu.be/AFxzCVxh5OI

Kevin Shields in a Hot Tub*

Loop in Barcelona. BAM 2015

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2015 seems to be the year of ‘moments’. Moments of madness that is.

You know Loop, yeah? Well they were playing a gig in the street in Barcelona. As you do.

I had another of my little ‘moments’ and went over for the day. I’m really going to have to stop doing this.

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Loop. Love. Blah blah. Here are some pictures.

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I managed to get some decent ones of Wayne for a change.

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Look! Smiling!

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*Why Kevin Shields in a Hot Tub? I have no idea but Robert introduced one of the songs as Kevin Shields** in a Hot Tub.

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**Kevin Shields is the Herr Obergruppenführer My Bloody Valentine.

PZYK Out

Last weekend I was up in Liverpool with my mate Jeremy. We hadn’t just gone on a whim, but were attending a psych fest, rather grandly entitled Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia (Liverpool Psych Fest to you and me).

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This festival runs over 2 days (Friday and Saturday), from mid-afternoon until the wee hours on both days. Obviously I wasn’t going to spend the entire 26 hours with my head in a speaker. I mean, there are other things to do in Liverpool, but I still got to see a few good bands, have a look at some very cool film and lighting installations, peruse the record stall and generally hang out and catch up with other chums.

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So here they are, sort of in order of top-ness (although not necessarily exactly), my micro-reviews.

My overall winners of Liverpool Psych Fest 2015:

The Heads

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50% of The Heads now = 50% of Loop, so that’s happening, right? But, in any case, I also like The Heads in their own right. By the time that The Heads were really doing the business in the later 1990s/early-2000s I’d gone off into the world of dark drum’n’bass so I pretty well missed them. A quite different group of Bristolians had my attention. I’m happy to be making up for it now though.

To describe this gig as ‘face-melting’ could be considered as something of an understatement. There were moments when the sheer volume was actually making me a bit dizzy. My inner ear took a right battering, I can tell you. At one point, I thought I was going to fall over. But I didn’t. So that’s ok.

This was largely a noise set rather than a sing-song (the gig at The Lexington in April was a bit more of a sing-song. But only a bit). But although, yes, it was stupid loud, it wasn’t stupid, if you see what I mean. And so they went storming around their back catalogue and we had lots of tunes from across various of their albums with barely a break throughout the whole set.

Basically, they went large.

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At the end of the set, I was able to get a setlist from Wayne. Thanks Wayne.

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THE BIG DECISION for a lot of people at this year’s festival was Spiritualized or The Heads. I made the right choice 😀 I can still say this, even though I know that Spiritualized played Take Me To The Other Side which, I bet, was a real tear-jerker.

After the set I had to pop upstairs to retrieve the swag I’d bought earlier, and when I was up there, another festival-goer remarked that I must have just seen a great band because I was still doing the monkey-dance 😀 It was the kind of set that leaves you reeling and high-kicking at the same time 😀 Fun, fun, fun (with added AHB).

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I filmed a couple of songs on my camera, here , but the bloke standing next to me filmed the whole set at much higher quality, here.

Also mentioned in dispatches:

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This is Simon Price from The Heads’ other project, and saw the ‘3’ expanded to ‘5’ with the addition of The Heads/Anthroprophh axe-man Paul Allen and Carlton Melton’s Rich Millman.

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This is a slightly less in yr face beast (but only ‘slightly’ less), but the set as a whole had a pleasing driving quality (lots of forward motion) with long (semi-) improvised (?) instrumentals building, evolving, adding layers and texture. A little less rock and a little more roll. One of the stand-out sets of the weekend, without doubt.

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Etienne Jaumet

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Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jaumet, of Zombie Zombie fame, pulled out a relatively low key set, with saxophone samples (sampled live!), beats and a certain Gallic funkiness. It’s less party-party than Zombie Zombie, but I liked it.

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The Lumerians. I was actually in another little venue, District, seeing Vision Fortune (who hadn’t really got going yet) but Jeremy kept sending me texts telling me that there were sparkly monks playing in Camp. Sparkly monks, you say? Yeah, well obviously. So off I went.

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I can’t honestly say that The Lumerians were big or clever, but they were fun 🙂  Lots of synths and rythmic guitars. And sparkly.

K-X-P, more hooded figures to round off Saturday night. These are a Finnish krautrock-y 3-piece with a nice line in ‘motorik’ (*snigger*) with pretty dark, driving beats and a certain amount of yelping. I did like this band but, unfortunately, they were following The Heads so I was still bouncing off the walls. I’ll need to see K-X-P again in order to do them justice but I think that they’re a goer.

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Blanck Mass, him out of Fuck Buttons, pulled out a great, pretty upbeat dance set (much of my Friday was on the dance rather than psych side). Described as an “eclectic mix of krautrock, minimal synth and Detroit techno”, which is about right, but it also made me think that this is what hard house could be like if it wasn’t so bloody boring.

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This was followed by Factory Floor who rounded off Friday night with another rousing dance-along. I understand that they sometimes have a live drummer which I think would have been even better (I like drummers. More drumminess please). It was more like a club vibe for the latter part of the night with hard techno beats and visuals there was no time for sleepiness until my head hit the pillow at stupid-o-clock.

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Not bad, so-so and meh:

What’s Russian for ‘shoegazer’? Pinkshinyultrablast. These are getting a bit of a buzz at the moment and they’re alright, but a bit of a one-trick-pony. They are clearly (very clearly) big fans of MBV but I think that the reliance on one, very girly, female vocal becomes a bit samey after a while. The music is not bad, all late-80s fuzzy indie guitars, but I hope that they’ll push it a bit more and not stick to the one tried-and-tested formula.

Virginia Wing were also alright. They had a touch of the Stereolabs about them but I really felt like they could do with just a little more bounce. The songs (I think we saw 3 or 4) were pretty good but needed a little more energy to stop them tipping over into becoming a bit boring. One to watch, maybe.

Vision Fortune. Well TBH, it hadn’t really got going before I was lured away by sparkly monks (see above, The Lumerians).

Jane Weaver, yes yes I know you all love her and she’s the saviour of music (or something) but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that she was going to end up being the next Dido or Adele, and doing a Bond theme for nice middle class Guardian readers. I’m sure she’s very nice but I just don’t really need this.

There was another band playing in Blade Factory who we saw 5 minutes of by accident. One of the blokes had a hat on that was just upsetting me, so I had to leave. I don’t know who they were.

I also tried to avoid anything that smacked of prog, as I have an extremely low prog-tolerance. That means you, Carlton Melton.

Damn and blast it:

At festivals it’s inevitable that you’ll end up missing something that you wouldn’t have minded seeing, either because of clashes or because of late-night-early-morning-I-don’t-want-to-get-up-ness. Anyway, I missed Destruction Unit, but I’ve heard that the sound wasn’t great for them. I would have liked to have seen Hey Colossus but I was in Kandodo5, and ditto for The Octopus Project, but I was in Pinkshinyultrablast. Another time, hopefully.

In addition to all these musical shenanigans, the festival had lots of other spaces to hang out in and see stuff.

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There was a chill-out cinema.

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With groovy lights. (Look, Loop t-shirt 🙂 )

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There was silk screen printing which looked like fun (I didn’t really have time to do one).

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I really liked the room with the projections. They had bands playing in there too but it got too crowded to be able to even see anything.

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And what about all those other things-to-do in Liverpool?

I had actually determined that while I was in Liverpool, I was going to have nothing at all to do with the B****es (because I’m contrary like that). I was doing pretty well until  I ran into this splendid specimen…

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*sigh*

The land of fire and ice…and Loop

First off, there are no Romans in Iceland (there were a few random coin finds, but they don’t mean that any Romans were actually here so, in the absence of any real hard evidence, my statement stands). So what on earth am I doing here? From the title of this post, you’ll have guessed that this is Loop-related.

The ‘fire and ice’ bit is going to have to wait until I’ve had some sleep but first, Loop.

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ATP Iceland is a 3 day festival held at Ásbrú, a disused NATO air base near the airport near Keflavik (about 30-ish miles from Reykjavik). Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?

The view from above.

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It was alright actually. All wind-swept concrete and stark angles. Quonset huts, and breeze-block and crinkly-tin buildings with different coloured roofs. Nothing soft. Nothing at all soft.

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Except the ubiquitous lupins, an invasive species that seems to be taking over every roadside verge in the country.

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To business.

I met up with a couple of cool Soundheads from the Edinburgh Chapter, Simon and Ellen, for the fun. Before Loop even came on stage, it was clear that this was going to be a typically hilarious Loop gig as the absolute miasma of dry ice kept setting off the fire alarm. Security seemed remarkably unfazed by this, with not even the slighted hint that an evacuation might be in order.

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In any case, the set was actually really great. I mean, it was basically the same set as they’ve been playing recently, but it was satisfyingly full of heaviosity and we were even treated to a little bit of shimmy-shimmy bum-wiggling. The sound in the Atlantic Studios, the main venue, was very good, very clean, meaning that we were treated to all the volume without muddiness or (unintended) distortion.

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Degi Hari

Stand-outs this time were Precession, this song just sounds fantastic live. I really prefer it live to the recorded version, as it has more of the oomph that I like. The drums are more pronounced, it’s heavier and the riffage is sharper and more urgent sounding. Nice one.

Arc Lite was top, with that driving impetus and ever-cool drum patterns. Burning World, which is, frankly, a lovely song, sounded lush and fluid, languid but not lazy. Mmmmm.

There was a bit of mithering from Robert. I’m not sure what the issue was but whatever it was, lots of magic gaffer tape was required. We were wondering if Robert was having trouble seeing his pedalboard, on account of the aforementioned dry ice.

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Right at the end, Robert had a little hissy, threw his guitar up in the air and stalked off stage. Some other people in the audience asked me about that afterwards. They’d really enjoyed the set but were concerned that there might be a serious problem. I told them not to worry :D. Robert was absolutely fine. He was outside having a chat and a gasper shortly afterwards.

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Discretion demands that I draw a veil over the rest of the evening (nothing naughty, just off-the-record), but I can say that I had a very nice chat with guitarist Dan and impressed upon him the absolute necessity of their rehearsing Radial in order to play it live as soon as possible. It seems that there are some autumn gigs in the offing, including in the US (you lucky Americans).

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And so, as the sun went down as far as it would go (this image was from about 1.30am) it was time to contemplate home, actual night-time darkness and water that doesn’t smell of sulphur. Iceland, it was fun. Thank you. And thanks to Hugo and Dan for the set list and pass.

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Hurry Up Array

So here we are again. Loop. It’s been a while, although not, obviously, the 23 years that it was was before. We’ve done the nostalgia thing but there’s no future in nostalgia. It’s time to blast into the future.

So here is the (foreseeable) future; three EPs, Arrays 1, 2 and 3.

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PART 1

Loop, Trades Club, Hebden Bridge

Due to my extreme excitement at the prospect of new Loop material, I’ve hopped on a train up to Yorkshire to see them live. Hebden Bridge to be precise. Tonight I was meeting my Tweep Sequin World (@ann_sequinworld), otherwise known as Ann, and her partner Andy. I’ve never been to Hebden Bridge before but I had no trouble finding the venue because I could hear Loop soundchecking all the way down the road 😀 .

The venue was quite nice, like a small working men’s club and we were treated to a cool oil-wheel lightshow. Just before Loop were due on stage, who should show up but fellow-Loop-fanatic Dave! He’d had a ‘moment’ earlier on in the day and, unable to bear the fact that he wouldn’t see Loop and I would, he’d driven up after work. Gave me a surprise, I can tell you!

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The gig was great. This, despite the fact that Robert’s amp had blown up during the soundcheck (this is not the first time that Loop has been tormented by an exploding amp). Dan’s guitar was good and loud, resulting in a bigger fuller sound, especially important when Robert goes into one of his wig-outs. This is good.

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The set list (as pinched by Dave). They also did Breathe Into Me at the end.

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Starting the set with The Nail Will Burn is pretty cool. That bassline, and then all the rest of the instruments come crashing in (especially live). Two songs from the new EP, Array 1; Aphelion and Precession, sounded fantastic. I especially like these live and really want to hear the other two tracks played live (although I’m not at all convinced that they’ll do Coma). Might be a bit tricky right away, as Robert can’t remember the words 😉 The only duffer was (weirdly) Collision, which sounded like it was falling down stairs.

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The new EP was on sale at the merch stall, so all’s well with the world. This gig was great fun but a loooooong drive home (including a scary bit in the woods!).

PART 2

Loop, The Kazimier Club, Liverpool

I wasn’t going to do this because it involved more overnight travel. Urgh. But I couldn’t help myself. This has happened before and will, no doubt, happen again.

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When I (finally) arrived at the club in Liverpool, it looked a bit deserted :/

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TBH it didn’t look like there were many people there but you know the rules. As long as there are more people in the audience than on the stage, it flies. The venue was also very dark. The on-stage ‘lightshow’ seemed to consist of some nightlights and one spot. Honestly, this is what it looked like for most of the gig*

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Still, the gig was good. Not quite as good as the night before, but it was fun and Burning World sounded lovely and Breathe Into Me was better than the night before.

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The set list was the same as at Hebden Bridge so, again, we had two new songs. I like these more the more I hear them, especially live. This new material seems to work some particular themes. I’m particularly loving the drums. These are more prominent live than on the recording and, more generally, the live sound is a lot harder than on record, darker and more fierce, which works for me. Hopefully we’ll get the other two newies, ‘Coma’ (will they even do this one live?) and ‘Radial (a sure fire crowd-pleaser), soon. I really look forward to the day when the set list is built around new material, with a few old favourites thrown in, rather than predominantly old material (much as I love it).

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The journey home was interminable, as expected, but we did drive past Chester Roman amphitheatre, so at least that gave me a little frisson of excitement. Ho hum, it’s the weekend in any case, so I have time to sleep it off.

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PART 3

Loop, The Roundhouse, London

This gig was on as part of the 20 Years of Mogwai series. A real mixed bill with Mugstar (prog), Lightening Bolt (hilariously good), Tortoise (missed them because I was too busy chatting with my mate Jeremy) and GZA (hip hop coolster).

But this is a Loop post so, obviously, it’s all about the Loop.

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The set kicked in with The Nail Will Burn played as heavy as a hippo, sitting on an elephant, riding on the back of a blue whale. i.e., extremely heavy 😀 . See, THIS is why I like seeing them live. As cool as they are, you just don’t get this on the records.

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The audience was a bit thin at the very beginning, but I think that was because a lot of people skipped out after Lightening Bolt to get a drink and smoke a tab on the terrace. The terrace seemed to have a lot going on. Earlier on we’d seen a guy fall down the stairs, on a chair! Twice!! Not sure how that happened but it was his birthday, so perhaps that’s significant. Anyway, me and Jeremy heard the pre-Loop drone and scurried in, but perhaps other people didn’t realize that they were starting. It did fill up though and there was a satisfying amount of whooping going on.

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I’ve alluded to this twice already, but the new songs really are very cool. Precession, I think, has the more instantly distinctive riffery, but both of the new songs played live so far seem to fit seamlessly into a set still dominated by much older material. I guess this just highlights the timelessness of a lot of this material.

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I enjoyed this gig a lot, largely due to the aforementioned heaviness, but, and I’m certainly not the only one who said this, they absolutely smashed Arc Lite. Honestly, this may be one of the best times that I’ve heard it. Absolutely killed it. Collision managed to stay on its feet (been laying off the sauce) and provided a strong, and popular, closing for the set. Top notch.

Thanks to Dan and Wayne for the setlists on this mini-tour.

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Who keeps writing ‘Procession’? 😉

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*there are a couple of videos on YouTube that show this up even more hilariously.

Straight to Your Heart 

Vapour