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!!

The French Connection

Loop…in Paris..at the weekend…in summer? What’s not to love?

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Well I have to say that this gig was amazing (yes, yes, I know. I think they’re all amazing, but bear with me)

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The gig was in a hall in a park, and fellow Loop enthusiast Dave had randomly hopped over on Eurostar having decided that he just had to be there. There was summer fun already going on in the park when we got there and within 1 minute we’d spotted Scott and Wayne. We then ended up having a beer or two in the park with Scott and Neil (I actually had “l’incroyable citronnade”, but the boys had beer).

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Neil was on particularly fine form and I’m impressed that we were able to have a properly interesting conversation about Romans. Yes, you read that right. Romans 😀 . Obviously everyone else was rolling their eyes and yawning during this, but I don’t care. I’m officially claiming Neil as a Romanist now. One of us, man. One of us (*cue chest thumping*).

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Anyway, the gig. The venue was HUGE. It looked like it may have been a tramshed, or something like that, but Loop filled every inch of it. The sound in the hall was reeeeaaaalllllyyyyyy good, so I suspect that you could stand on stage banging pots and pans together and playing the kazoo and it’d sound good, but Forever sounded amazing, especially as we’d sprinted from the front to about half way back to take in the view. From further back it was possible to really hear just how big, rather than merely loud, the sound was. Best songs? For me, Fix to Fall sounded as smooth as an oiled seal, and Burning World, rather predictably considering recent airings, was just gorgeous. Like the wine dark sea (the classicists amongst you will get this reference).

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But just to be irritatingly ‘with the band’ (Christ, I’m even irritating myself now), we went backstage for a bit and then off for a couple of Leffes with Scott afterwards.

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Scott, if you ever read this, you’re a proper gent and no mistake. I salute you Sir 😀 .

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And one last, frankly gratuitous photo of Loop in action.

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There’ll be some news soon about the band, but I think that I’ll leave that to Loop Central to disseminate.

UPDATE: well we already knew when we were there that it was to be Neil’s last Loop gig, but events have taken their turn and it turned out to be Scott’s last Loop gig too. This makes me even happier that I was able to be there. It was a great gig and a great last gig for Neil and Scott. There is to be a new Loop, including new material, so there’s that to look forward to but, I must say, seeing this Loop again has been an absolute joy 😀

The end of the affair … ?

And so, and I type this with a sense of sad inevitability, it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong.

There was this on FB:

I have been sacked!
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 Me
Oh crap.
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 Then:
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         john
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Reunions can be tricky. We were told that this one was always meant to be short term and it’s often best not to drag it out too long, especially if there is no prospect of new material. It could end up like The Pixies, or looking like a Loop tribute band – Hoop? Loopy?  There have been loads of reunions in recent years; Chapterhouse, Swervedriver, The Telescopes et al. We’re threatened with the prospect of a Slowdive reunion, but that’s just too awful to contemplate. Slowdive really were the dullest band ever (IMO).
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But I’m so glad that I got to see Loop again. I’d never expected to and it’s been such fun (for me). And it has reinvigorated my interest in music (I’m soooo out of touch) so, for me at least, it’s not all about looking back. There are still some gigs to come in North America and at Roadburn, but no more (yet?) announced  for the UK. I’d go of course. How could I resist? I’m powerless to resist, but I’d miss John. He’s cool. He’s one of the ‘classic’ Loop line-up and I want him to be there, even if I am too short to be able to see him behind his kit. But at the end of the day he has to do what is right for him. Reunions can be tricky you see.
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I’ve had a love affair with Loop for more than a quarter of a century (crikey! How old am I?). Yes, it’s been a rather one-sided love affair, but that’s ok, and I don’t want it to end. This recent live jaunt has been like one last brief moment in the sun…if the sun was at night… and really noisy…and mostly obscured by dry ice. Well you get what I mean. A gorgeous, heart pumping, heart stopping aberration. A last mad moment of joyous Loop-y goodness.
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Whatever happens next we’ll always have the music. So, People of Loop, if you do ever read this, whatever your differences, together you created something beautiful, so thanks for that.

Hopelessly devoted to Loop