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 Cupboard of Indie Nonsense: 7″ of fun

The Cupboard of Indie Nonsense is being reopened following a special request from my pal Dave.

P1030425

As the core business of Indie Nonsense is indie music, I’m going to put on display a few of the oddities and rarities that The Cupboard contains.

I was having a chat with a couple of pals a while back about, among other things, the silly money that some records and band memorabilia go for on ebay. I haven’t looked up prices for any of these because it just makes me roll my eyes but I do know that collectors can get a bit ‘keen’ for some of this sort of stuff. These are not for sale.

Anyone who has ever read this blog will know that I’m a bit of a Loop fan, so I’m starting with a little bit of Loop-related nonsense. First up, The Field Mice.

2

This vinyl flexi-disc (BULL 4-0) is The Field Mice’s celebrated cover version of Loop’s ‘Burning World’. A classic.

Being a flexi-disc puts it in the category of REALLY indie nonsense. Flexi-discs are, unsurprisingly, thin, flexible little 7″ records* which were often given away with magazines and fanzines or sold for about 50p at gigs.

This one is extra-indie because it’s clear vinyl.

3

Incidentally, in the making of this post, I’ve discovered that I’ve actually got three of these! Random.

Here’s another Loop-related disc, only this time, it’s the boys themselves.

4

This hard vinyl disc, Sniffin Rock #8 (SR005A7), was given away with Sniffin Rock magazine in 1989 and contains 3 tracks; ‘Pulse’ by Loop, ‘For Dude’ by Gaye Bykers On Acid and the delightfully entitled  ‘Wanking In The Bog’ by The Abs.

5

As the wonderful Teenage Fanclub are currently on tour, wowing audiences up and down the country, I’d decided to include a few little nuggets of Fanny nonsense here but then I realized that I’ve got loads of TFC 7″, so I might do a whole separate post of those. Here is just one goodie to finish with.

1

This song, ‘Everybody’s Fool’ is the final track on the Fannies’ first album ‘A Catholic Education’ (PAPLP004) and it contains the classic lyrics “‘I don’t fucking care, what clothes you wear, you’re still fucking square”.

It was also released as a 7″ in 1990, backed with ‘Primary Education’ and ‘Speeder’ (OLE 007-7).

14543678_10153757049936436_6661724827062847999_o

In late 1990, Teenage Fanclub were touring with Gumball and did this hilariously good fun free gig on a Saturday afternoon at Rough Trade, Covent Garden. So I had my record signed by the band and by BMX Bandits guru Duglas T Stewart.  I actually have a photo of this historic moment.

14457410_10153740238571436_7296222866307031174_n

But wait, there’s one signature missing. Where’s Raymond? I’ve no idea. Maybe he wasn’t there that afternoon (he isn’t in any of my photos).

Still, this is a prized possession and the splodgy-evil-grin-Norman-face in the top right of the front cover, and across the back cover, was replicated on another prized possession; the corresponding badge.

P1030438

If I ever lost these badges, I would cry so hard.

More nonsense indie records next time.

.

*other sizes are available.

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.

?????????????

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.

P1280260

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.

P1280387

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,

12295283_10153115105896436_1758356398929810782_n

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

The Prestatyn seafront in November o_O

12313679_10153115929311436_1912632080188205495_n

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.

P1280194

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

 .

*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

Ton Up

So I’ve reached my one-hundredth post. That’s quite a lots seeing as I don’t do blogs.

What shall I write about?

Hmm.

How about the fact that it’s my one-hundredth post? How about nothing?

I mean, rather than turn this into some sort of magnificent occasion, with a telegram from the Queen and bunch of roses, perhaps I’ll just let it slide by in a flurry of nothingness.

In a world where every little thing is hailed as ‘epic’, where every commonplace event gets pumped up into the biggest thing ever, maybe I’ll just let it pass with barely a comment.

Maybe I won’t even post any pictures. How d’ya like them apples?

I’ll see you on the other side of 100.

With pictures and all 😀

Since writing the above something momentous has happened. Something worthy of the Ton.

Loop are releasing new material 😀

This statement is from the Loop Facebook page:

11118479_10153206633477457_5847601102726349203_n

“Towards the end of 2013 saw the reformation of one of the most revered and respected late 80’s UK alternative bands, LOOP. The group, founded by Robert Hampson, hadn’t played together since the early 90’s but got together to curate a night at the legendary All Tomorrow’s Parties at Camber Sands. US dates followed in 2014 and they then got back in the studio to start recording. The result is three brand new releases coming over the next year which see the band return to their hugely unique and era defining sound whilst sounding fresh and exciting.

The first release is ‘Array 1’, four tracks and 32 mins of haunting, aggressive, beautiful noise. ‘Precession’, ‘Aphelion’, ‘Coma’ and ‘Radial’ are the first songs to be heard from their recording session done in Sub Station Studios in Rosyth in Scotland with the current line up of Robert Hampson (vocals/guitar), Hugo Morgan (bass), Wayne Maskell (drums) and Dan Boyd (guitar). With only an early version of ‘Precession’ having had any previous outing (at a show at the Garage in London at the end of 2014), this is the very first new music from the band since their third album, 1990’s lost classic ‘A Gilded Eternity’.

The next tracks will be released in the Autumn in keeping with Loop’s previous habit of putting out music in batches, Hampson describes it as “one project, with the same concept, delivered in bulletins”.

With the music out on 22nd June 2015, this ties in with a show at the Roundhouse in London on 28th June where they are part of the line-up of ATP’s Season at the Roundhouse. The event, curated by post rock band Mogwai to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, will be spread over six nights and see performances from the likes of Public Enemy, GZA, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

22nd June (24th June for the US) – ‘Array 1’ – 4 track release

18 June HEBDEN BRIDGE, Trades Club
19 June LIVERPOOL, Kazimier
20 June GLASGOW, Barrowlands (ATP with Mogwai)
28 June LONDON, Roundhouse (ATP with GZA)”

And here’s the first track from Array 1, Precession –  http://www.stereogum.com/1796516/loop-precession-stereogum-premiere/mp3s/
.
I’m delirious.

“You can dance if you want to, but if you’re gonna bump into your neighbour then, er, you know….”*

Bump, bump.

20140919_144222  It’s Loop, but not as we knew it.

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***.

10628007_10152273429076436_4700994907287689107_n

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!

Angers 2

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.

1011683_10152275590801436_1416266155846454296_n (1)

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 🙂 .

10312348_10152274273941436_9077274048909591280_n

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 😀 . 

10629573_10152275590911436_7746911769103257730_n

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.

10636074_10152272134156436_4403772989428824829_n

.

* ” http://www.glassdarkly.com/LOOP-PAGE.html – I’ve just HAD to Anglicize the spelling. I can’t bear the absence of ‘u’s.

**http://levitation-france.com/

*** 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.

The London that time forgot

Paul Talling is probably best known for his hit book ‘Derelict London‘, in which he presented photographs of the bits of London that time forgot. Old pubs, disused seaman’s missions, boarded-up churches, decaying houses and much much more faded architectural glamour.

He also does these guided walks. I’ve done a couple of them before, and they’re great. He seems to have drunk with every old landlord and old lag in London, and can spin the most unlikely tale.  The route of this walk took us around Woolwich, Gallion’s Reach, Beckton and the Royal Docks, Woolwich Arsenal and on to the delights of West Thamesmead. We took in a bit of the foreshore and an old Arsenal Football ground. Sound epic? Talling’s walks are epic, and usually end in the pub.

Onward Ho!

I should say that I was also joined by two FROG* companions, @helga_j and @odysseus_nz so we’ve taken a rather FROGgy view on at least some of this stuff.

P1250890.

The day started at Gallions Reach DLR and proceeded straight down towards the docks and the river to have a look at some of the significant change that has happened in this area over the past few years.

This whole area has been variously redeveloped and abandoned over the past couple of decades or so. The building in the background (with the stilts) was only built in 1999, but has already been abandoned and left for nature to take its course.

P1250893.

Down by the dock, we had a look at some of the old river frontage which serviced the old Beckton Gas Works

P1250939.

Beckton Gas Works covered a huge area, over 500 acres, but none of the old buildings survive and the site now contains blocks of flats, a number of new roads, trading estates and a giant Tesco.

P1250946.

Famously, Stanley Kubrick used the, then already derelict, site to shoot the Vietnam scenes for his 1987 film Full Metal Jacket. Far more importantly, scenes from Loop’s 1990 Arc Lite video were filmed there.

Arc Lite 4Arc Lite 1 Arc Lite 3 Arc Lite 2 **

From there we walked along a rough path to a ladder in the retaining wall.

P1250962.

Now, this all looked pretty unlikely but after a little clambering and scrambling through the undergrowth we encountered not only the river but also the hulk of an abandoned Thames barge.

P1250971.

The FROG among us immediately started tweeting pictures of it to TDP HQ, and muttering darkly about possible fieldwork and how many people would be needed to get the timbers recorded.

P1250993.

Definitely a project for another time.

Moving ever onward, we crossed over the entrance to the Royal Albert Dock,

P1260010.

and then a little more walking around North Woolwich took us to the oldest terraced council houses in London

P1260022.

and a local pub whose uppers floors were destroyed in the Blitz.

P1260028.

The pub has closed down now and the site is for sale, but while we were looking at it, a man who lived across the road stopped and asked if we were thinking of buying it. When I explained that we were looking at the area’s history he started to tell us about the reality of living in the area. There have been proposals for the redevelopment of the pub, but there is a height restriction (any new owner cannot rebuild the upper stories) and the cost of making the property sound is prohibitive (the cellar is full of water and the estimate, just to solve the problems caused by this, is around £100k!). The only sure way to find out about an area is to chat with someone who actually lives there.

A stop off at the local caff for a cuppa and a bite to eat, and then we were off again via a disused railway station,

P1260034.

and this derelict pier, once used on a visit by Winston Churchill.

P1260044.

P1260047.

Next a trip across the river on the Woolwich Free Ferry (my first trip  on the ferry) took us over to the site of the old Woolwich Dockyard. Founded by Henry VIII in 1512 as the building site for his flagship, Henri Grâce à Dieu (‘Henry, Grace of God’, AKA, the ‘Great Harry’).

Grace dieu ***

The clockhouse has lately been used as a community arts centre,

P1260117.

and several of the run docks have been incorporated into the housing schemes, and are used by water birds and local residents for fishing.

P1260134.  P1260132.

The whole area is dotted with remnants of the area’s naval past and, in particular, all the canon seem to really bring out people’s inner Cher.

P1260120. P1260111. P1260141. P1260118.

Then we went off into town to see something which may or may not be close to your hearts. The very first branch of McDonalds to open in the UK :/

P1260158.

Moving swiftly on, on the other side of town is the Royal Arsenal, where we stopped briefly for a drink.

P1260161.

This modern pub, the Dial Arch, was built onto a standing arch built in 1720. It was through this arch that the workers at the Royal Gun Factories streamed to work, and it was later generations of these workers who formed the naissant Arsenal Football Club, then known as Dial Square FC.

We then set off for a little walk around West Thamesmede, past this Gormley-esque installation by Peter Burke, called ‘The Assembly’,

P1260168. P1260169.

and taking in this huge, drained canal basin, built in1814 using convict labour and complete with a lock and swing bridge. All disused and neglected.

P1260209.

P1260205. P1260210.

After all this, I must admit, we were all flagging so we made our way back to Woolwich, taking in the sites of a couple of Arsenal FC’s former grounds, and back to the Dial Arch pub for a reviving drink of cider. Pubs being what they are, we fell to chatting about this and that, mainly politics and music, and I discovered, amongst other things, that Paul used to put on gigs at the George Robey in the late ’80s/early ’90s. Anyone else remember Club Dog?

A great day out.

Details of Paul’s guided walks can be found here: http://www.derelictlondon.com/  and they’re highly recommended. They’re popular too. This particular walk has been sold out on 13 occasions this year already and there are at least another 3 scheduled, so if you like the look of one of the walks, get it booked PDQ.

* The FROG is the Foreshore Recording and Observation Group, working under the umbrella organisation of the Thames Discovery Programme.

** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqL8EVnrPyE

** image courtesy of http://www.universal-prints.com/english/fine-art/artist/image/unbekannt/6454/1/57907/the-henry-grace-a-dieu/index.htm