Sisters Of Mercy 02.09.17

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The Sisters of Mercy Roundhouse 2 September 2017

Andrew Eldritch is an enigma, a man at war with the record companies since the nineties.   And so it was at the Roundhouse, a shadowy figure who you could barely see his face, hidden by the smoke machine, the lighting, the laser beams.

Surprisingly the band still has a huge following, immediately apparent from the queue that went from the Roundhouse to the Morrison’s petrol station a fair distance down the road.

Inside the audience was 50% the old fans, the bald heads and wizened faces and 50% young goths, grungers, industrials and alternative art rockers too young to be born when the original albums were released.  Eldritch has always hated the Goth connection, having described himself as aiming for more modernist.  Kraftwerk with guitars, not really.   The clues are more in the Sisterhood the collaboration with Alan Vega from Suicide.

The concert is almost more theatre than standard rock show, the drama, the abovementioned seclusion and mystery.  It is a shock to see how much Eldritch has aged, now completely bald, no longer paper thin, dressed in ill-fitting black suit, seemingly quite unhealthy and gawky, an unsure dancer but he still has the drama and some great songs.  It is interesting to note that when compared to his peer Nick Cave, the Sisters have only released 3 albums, but have had more hit singles.  I side with the underdog.   It is also interesting to note that the cover versions they have released/played throughout their career are a clue as to the direction of the Sisters from day one, the vintage ballads, “Gimme Shelter”, the Stooges etc. 

Eldritch is flanked by two rockin guitarists, strutting their stuff with great tone probably the best line up since the Marx, Adams, Gunn days.  Behind them is Doctor Avalanche being operated using two lap tops rap style.  The songs have evolved with time and some are almost unrecognisable.

Eldritch sometimes struggled getting his voice heard, it is difficult I suppose when the songs are more mumbled than sang, and it did not matter, it increased the drama and theatre.  Interestingly his voice came through clearer when he sang from the side of the stage, he could probably hear himself better from there.  It is a problem I used to experience as well so I identify.

In the old days I preferred the early Sisters.  I never really liked “First and Last and Always” and was initially disappointed by “Floodland” and “Vision Thing” but after seeing the show I have revaluated the latter period and now love it.  The gig spanned songs from their entire career from Body Electric to unrecorded new songs like “Summer” and the standard was high throughout.  So time to dig out their two compilations “Some Girls Wander By Mistake” and “A Slight Case of Overbombing”.  I did.

An interesting new cover was “Rumble” and it sounded damn good as well.

Highlights for me where “More”, “Susanne”, “Vision Thing”, “Lucretia My Reflection” and “This Corrosion”.

Below I enclose the set list as printed online and I am not sure it is 100% correct. 

SET LIST:
More
Ribbons
Doctor Jeep / Destination Boulevard
Crash and Burn
Body Electric
No Time to Cry
Body and Soul
We Are the Same, Susanne
Walk Away
Amphetamine Logic
Dominion/Mother Russia
Summer
Rumble
Flood II
Vision Thing
Encore:
Something Fast
Lucretia My Reflection
Temple of Love
Encore 2:
Romeo Down
That’s When I Reach For My Revolver
This Corrosion
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Jiving and Dying

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The Radio Rats story directed by Michael Cross.

Beautifully edited, filmed and compiled by Michael Cross in lovely grainy monochrome the film immediately hooks one in from the opening scene and doesn’t let go until the final credits ninety nine minutes later.  It is visual audio delight with a superb soundtrack presented in hi fidelity quality pumping loud from the cinema speakers.

For me the story is about guitarist songwriter Jonathan Handley and vocalist Dave Davies with a diverse cast of characters along the way.  Two very different personalities they share a dynamic when they work together.  I knew Jonathan back in the day and I remember him as a lovely man genuinely into artists like Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed prescribing but not injecting another girl another planet. 

Dave Davies is a great singer in the vein of Jagger or the other Davies Ray.  My wife says that he reminds her of David Johansen and she got it.  He has an animal magnetism charming in interview and nobody seems to know how he earns a living.

It was great to see the early proto glam punk rock pics but the story really kicks in with ZX Dan one of the greatest South African songs ever, Starman with a country twang and Safrican accent.  It was a massive hit in South Africa and it could have done the same worldwide.  The song was written with the aim of having a hit single and it became their defining moment.

It interests me that they describe their music as pop but that song was their only pop hit.  I guess they scupper their chances by singing about strange quirky subjects like Cyanide Lake.  The other Jonathan, Richman springs (sic) to mind as the closest reference.

And so they became a cottage industry writing and recording many songs with continually changing line ups and name changes and slowly refining and defining their sound and art, the comic art of the bands album covers and posters is very much part of the whole thing.

It is great to see the scenes of the old South Africa towns, and venues and country side, it is a lost time strange and quaint and it is interesting how anything alternative or artistic came out of such an environment yet somehow it seems to happen.

The film is probably the most comprehensive documentary of any single South African music artist or act and probably the best.  It is entertaining but it is also art.   A lot of attention has been paid on the editing and the detail.  Some of the interviews are presented in seemingly uncut form of realism reminiscent of Warhol or Jonas Mekas. 

In the middle of the film some songs display a sixties garage psyche feel of English freakbeat particularly the Creation.  That part blew me away as it is quite an obscure reference and they do it very well.

And whilst not the final song in the film but the song that seems like the end song Perlemoen is a strange one.  It is the song where Jonathan seems to finally fully give in to his South African-ness.

The film is available on DVD as a double pack with a great compilation CD and superb cover art and sleeve notes.  It is a quality package.

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Snake Eyes

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Today sees the release of the Snake Eyes CD on Retrobution Records catalog number RBCD01 .

The album is a partnership between Michael Fleck and Patrick Atkinson.  The album was professionally recorded as a intended big release in the early nineties and remained in the vaults until now.

Michael brought in original song sketches and Pat developed the ideas in the studio over several weekends.  All instruments were played by Pat and Michael sang lead vocals.

They both had experience in bands, Michael most notably in Wild Youth and Pat had recently finished a stint in John Moore’s Expressway a Jesus and Mary Chain offshoot who had supported several respected artists including Jon Spencer’s Pussy Galore.

It is an interesting project covering many styles, a big blasting alternate rock album but also arty, funky and tender in places.  A travelogue part fact and part fictional.

Goodbye Durban hello London America Europe.

Taken direct from the original masters we now give you Snake Eyes presented in a beautiful high quality laminated card wallet sleeve.

The cover features vivid studio portraits intended for the original nineties album.  The artwork was done by Brett Lock and Christopher Houston of the Sighs Of Monsters in consultation with Michael.

The time is right for having fun.

 

 

 

Ingrid Jonker

Ingrid

Ingrid Jonker is an internationally recognized poet whose subject matter included the cause of the poor and lot of black South Africans during the apartheid era.   This year sees the release of “Die Kind Is Nog Jonger” a tribute album of her work featuring contemporary musicians.  I am one of the artists on the album.

The album is being funded by crowd funding.  See link below.

https://igg.me/at/ingrid-jonker/x

Slapgat ‘n roll

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“Slapgat” – a lazy sloppy person, slacker

“Gat” – anus or vagina. 

“Jou ma se gat”means your mother’s ass and is very insulting

 This winter saw the release of the definitive Wild Youth double 180 gram vinyl limited edition of 300.  The set consists of a LP plus 12” EP and the recordings are from best available sources in most cases the original master reel to reels.  The records are housed in a beautiful rustic cardboard outer sleeve with period artwork.

42 minutes long the set is split into 4 distinctly themed sides in great sound quality.

Side 1:  The Wild Youth official releases 1979-1981

  1. All Messed Up (Six Of The Best)
  2. Record Companies (Six Of The Best)
  3. Wot Bout Me (7”)
  4. Radio Youth (7” b side)
  5. Avalanche (unreleased single 1981)
  6. Take Off (unreleased b side 1981)

Side 2:  The post Wild Youth recordings 1987-2015, a selection of songs that continue the spirit of Wild Youth.

  1. Iron Vest (Gay Marines)
  2. Wild Girl (The Retros)
  3. Trash City (Gay Marines)
  4. Time Stood Still (Gay Marines)
  5. Desperate Lives (Gay Marines)

Side 3:  The demo recordings 1979 – 1983

  1. So Messed Up (Wild Youth 1979)
  2. Record Companies (Wild Youth 1979)
  3. So Trendy (Wild Youth 1979)
  4. Action Man (Gay Marines 1983)

Side 4:  The Gay Marines “Fork Tongue” (plays at 45 rpm)

Recorded in 1987 “Fork Tongue” is different in musical style to the rest of the album.  I describe it as “kwela punk”.  The lyrics are a socio political commentary about South Africa of the time.  Listened in hindsight I feel it is as relevant worldwide in 2015 as it was in South Africa 1987.