Back To Nature - Frank Tovey Reshaped

Cologne, 9/26/01 Whatever motivated him to reappear this spring under his original moniker, it's definitively more than the upcoming best of collection as he's back full-heartily not compromising in any means, even in front of 16,000 people longing for Depeche soulful Mode. Starting off with the sinister "State Of The Nation" he leaves few doubts that he's not smoothened out over the years. "Ricky's Hand" follows and the solid upbeat gets more people moving, stripped down to pants and boots he continues with "Collapsing New People," his semi mega hit which paved the way for the success of "People Are People" and then "Luxury," his most accessible single which earns the least response. All the time he jumps across the stage like a tortured artist in a cage, attracting all of the attention of an mainly astonished public, before he surprises everyone with a heavy technobeat version of "Chasing The Blues Away" and goes stage diving while singing. Then he continues kicking ass with gorgeous versions of "Love Parasite," "Fireside Favourite" and as final, "hands in the air - show me you are there" track, the very suitable "Coitus Interruptus." Just 40 minutes something and a relatively poor mix compared to the following act but I'm drowned in sweat and euphoria. The way he uses his body and voice to illustrate the songs is just amazing, today's music needs more performers like him.
7006 Hits

Melt Banana

Last week I was lucky enough to hear one of the most energetic, unique and exciting rock bands on the planet perform what can be inadequately described as experimental hardcore punk at the three best gigs I've been to this year. Melt Banana of Tokyo are on tour in Europe and making an exhilarating manic noise everywhere they go. Their surgically masked guitarist Agata, sends all kinds of unlikely sounds roaring from his six strings via his big rack of effects pedals; breaking glass, machine gun fire and emergency sirens all augment his frantic slide antics. Singer Yako sounds utterly unlike any other singer, yelping like a small puppy or letting loose a helium barrage of unintelligible invectice as she does a surf dance through the thick waves of Banana mosh fodder. Tiny bassist Rika and American drummer Dave, formerly of Discordance Axis and now of internet noisemongers Atomsmasher, keep up the breathtakingly fast rhythm. The band have been playing and touring long enough to perfect their art attack and show everyone else how rock music can still blast ecstatically into the future. They played mostly songs from their recent and best albums 'Charlie' and 'Teeny Shiny', and as usual did one of their legendary cover songs, this time a traditional Italian tune 'Tintarella di Luna'. The Liverpool gig was especially sweaty and chaotic, with Agata grabbing a table a few songs in to keep people from falling on his pedals. In Leeds and Liverpool, support bands John Holmes, Narcosis and Voorhees were of the angry hardcore variety. Dave likened John Holmes to Prong although they seemed slower. Manchester supports were experimental noisemongers Magic City and Triclops and the comedy laptop processed shouting swearing racket of Speedranch^Jansky Noise. Speedranch was gutted not to be able to hire a bouncy Castle for the occasion, so made do with jumping off the PA into the crowd where someone emptied a beer can over his head. If you're in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland or Italy over the next two months or so, you might be able to catch Melt Banana before they go back to Japan. Check out the tour dates at
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It's not very often that I ask myself "Is this happening? Am I REALLY seeing this?" On the night of September 9th, when the Japanese trio Ex-Girl took the stage at the Shim Sham Club in New Orleans, LA, those doubts were the first things to enter my mind. The Girls entered bearing inflatable frogs and wearing costumes whose colors are most often found in the 80's. When they began a choreographed dance routine apparently inspired by robots, they resembled fuchsia, lime, and yellow whirlwinds of energy. After the opening song, Kirilo, Chihiro, and Fuzuki gave a brief speech, telling the audience about their origins on the planet "Kero! Kero!", then seemed to practice idol worship on the inflatable frogs. When eX-Girl eventually resumed playing music, they quickly won the audience over with a combination of heavy rock guitars, bizarre acapella vocals, and catchy, pop synthesizers. The standout song was by far the fittingly quirky cover of 80's one-hit-wonder M's "Pop Musik." eX-Girl's stage presence was an interesting blend of innocent Japanese coquettishness, incredibly quirky B52's-esque weirdness, and rock-vamp sex appeal. How refreshing to see a band achieve the difficult balance between playing live music well and keeping the stage show interesting.
8800 Hits


This was the sixth time I've seen Connelly solo. There wasn't anything particularly exceptional about the show - just me, one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time and 3 or 4 dozen others in the same room - which for me is exceptional in and of itself. Chris and company were in great spirits, Chris telling a few short stories inbetween songs and thanking people. This was the stripped down, road version of the band with Chris on acoustic/electric guitar and vocals, Henry Polk on electric bass and MaryDee Reynolds on electric and acoustic guitars and backing vocals. And Chris' old drum machine. They played 10:30 to 11:30.

The set covered over a decade and five albums:

    Heartburn, Diamonds Eat Diamonds, The Early Nighters, Blonde Exodus, Ghost of a Saint, Twilight Shiner, Model Murmur, London Fields, Blonde Exodus II
All of them were faithful to the original/studio versions with the exception of "Ghost of a Saint" which had a new musical backing and slower, almost bluesier feel. The band played and sounded great, but Chris seemed to struggle a bit vocally on a few songs. The female backing vocals are a welcome addition live. Henry is always solid. Chris had a cool liquid-y effect on his guitar for a few songs. The merchandise table was wells stocked, most importantly with the limited (100 copies) "Confessions of the Highest Bidder" spoken word CD which will be available soon from .
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I might dog them on their recorded releases, but boy can these guys put on a great show. It's seemingly a simple formula - three folks with analogue synths and an occasional bass plus a live drummer. The feel however is far more punk rock than they have ever expressed on any record. Sure they play all the hits and new songs, but they also end the night with a cover of the Stooges, "I Wanna Be Your Dog." It's furious, sexual and powerful, and don't miss them if they're in your town.
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After taking several years off from the road - except for the occasional performance in their home country of Switzerland, or nearby France - The Young Gods returned to European stages to do a short tour. I went to see them on their stop in Hamburg.
The concert was poorly promoted, the only poster announcing the show was put up in front of the venue while we were waiting to be let in. Regardless of that, quite a few people showed up, I would say about 150 to 200 give or take a few. This was a good amount of people for the size of the venue, it wasn't too crowded, but neither too empty.
When listening to The Young Gods' music, they may at first sound like your typical Industro-Metal band, with distorted guitars and everything. The bigger is the surprise when you see them live, and the only guitar used on stage is an acoustic one used to generate some feedback. Everything else is sampled and put to good use by keyboard player Al Comet. Add a drummer and singer Franz Treichler with his irresistible french accent, and you end up with The Young Gods.
I kind of pity the people who live next to or above the venue, the Westwerk. The amount of volume and noise The Young Gods put up on stage for the next 90 minutes was just insane. One of the loudest concerts I've ever been to. You wouldn't think that three guys can pull off noise like that and enjoy it. Apparently they do, as you could see that they were having an excellent time up there on stage.
During the show, the emphasis was on their current release "Second Nature". They played most of the songs from that album, mixed with some old classics. The slower songs like "In The Otherland" or "Laisser Couler" definitely benefited from the intimacy of the small venue. I can't imagine these songs would come across that well when being played in a big concert hall. Highlights of the concert were "Skinflowers", the stomping "Astronomic" and "Kissing The Sun". The performance was well received by the audience, so the band had to come back on stage twice before the lights finally went on. The show ended with one of the Kurt Weill cover tunes they do so well, which put a nice end to a fantastic show. Make sure you catch them live if they ever play a show near you.
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MARK EITZEL (Dallas, Austin)

You never really know what to expect at an Eitzel show. It could be a religious experience or quickly deteriorate into self deprecation, or a bit of both depending upon Mark's mood.
Fortunately for these two shows, Mark was affable and tolerated himself and annoying audience members, for the most part. Mark is backed by a 3 piece band on this tour: Kristin Sobditch - keyboards and occasional bass guitar, Brian Gregory - bass guitar, guitar, pedal steel guitar and backing vocals and Andrew Clark - beats, electronics and mixing.
The sets drew mostly from the latest CD, "The Invisible Man", plus some American Music Club classics and two yet to be released new songs. Songs I'm sure were played at both shows: "The Boy With the Hammer", "Can You See?", "Sleep", "To The Sea", "Shine", "Steve, I Always Knew", "Bitterness", "Anything", "The Global Sweep of Human History" (nice drone finale), "Seeing Eye Dog", "Proclaim Your Joy" (very rocking, with customized anti-George Bush lyrics in Austin), "Greeting Cards" (new) and "Soap Opera Star" (new, solo). The band leaves stage during the solo songs where Mark plays with electric guitar. In Dallas the solo AMC songs were "Last Harbor", "Western Sky" and "Blue and Grey Shirt". I can't recall what they were in Austin, but it was only 1 or 2, plus "I've Been a Mess" (on acoustic guitar) at the very end. They played between an hour and hour and a half total.
Mark really gave his all vocally, moreso than on "The Invisible Man", and is quite animated while playing. Not to disrespect the band as they were solid and sounded great, but it's when Mark plays solo that I'm totally enthralled. He completely loses himself in the songs (the only other person I've seen like that live is Michael Gira of SWANS/The Angels of Light). He closes his eyes and tends to wander back away from the mic during instrumental sections and will begin singing again oblivious that he's off mic. But it doesn't matter because the audience is perfectly silent, entranced. I think he came close to crying during "Last Harbor" in Dallas. I felt all tingly during most of "Soap Opera Star". Just stunning. It must be difficult to draw upon that much emotion night after night. Surpringly, Mark announced on stage that he'd be selling CDs after the show. There were 2 for $10 apiece: "Eitzelsuperhitsinternational tour CD" (unreleased studio demos from 1999) and "Mark Eitzel - Live on WMFU NYC Solo/Acoustic 4/16/01", both of which will be available on an Eitzel web site after the tour.
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Thursday, June 14, 2001: I convince a friend to join me at the Middle East Club to hear Reverend Glasseye and His Wooden Legs, one of my favorite Boston area bands. As usual, they were fabulous, but the big surprise that night was Uz Jsme Doma, the headliners on the bill. How could I have never heard of this amazing band from the Czech Republic? I was blown away by the many textures of their music, as well as their energy and technique. I'd call them prog rock with the speed and energy of punk, plus doses of traditional Slavic sounds, a bit of dark waltz gloom, and other unusual flavors. You can find more reviews at their web site,
Feeling silly that I hadn't heard them before, I purchased several of their CDs that evening [don't forget to support your favorite underground bands by buying their merchandise at their shows! The band gets a bigger cut of the sale price when you buy directly from them.] I picked out three CDs: In the Middle of Words, Hollywood, and their latest, Ears. They're all wonderful recordings, and they played songs from each of these CDs at the concert. Go see Uz Jsme Doma! They're touring North America through 7/15/01 -- click here for tour dates.
7012 Hits


Foetus rocked! I wasn't expecting Thirlwell to be quite so thin, having never seen him in person before. He's like a cross between an elf, a hippie and Satan. On crack. He was decked out in a super tacky long sleeve shirt, light blue '70s jeans with purple patch on back pockets and black elf boots. It really works on him. There was zero banter with the crowd (75 maybe?) but he did motion for us to come closer. Thankfully there were no openers. Foetus played from a little after 11 to 12:30 with 2 encores. Songs I'm certain of, in no particular order: The Need Machine, Mighty Whity, Quick Fix, Mandelay, DI-19026, Friend or Foe, Take it Outside Godboy, Kreibabe and English Faggot. English Faggot was particularly amazing, the end being extended for many, many minutes into a tense SWANS-like climax. The band - guitar, bass, keyboards, drums - were really into it and tight. JG paced around, rolled his eyes back in his head, made faces, raised his arms up in a crucified position often, constantly messed with his hair and did various motions in time with beats. He straddled the main speaker stage right for one song and stood on it for another, chanting '666' over and over then leaped off. They were all energetic but JG was, of course, the Master of Disaster.
Merchandise: 3 t-shirts (girls baby t, 2 "Flow" designs) for $15 apiece, a 12" featuring Thirlwell for $6 and the Manorexia "Volvox Turbo" CDs for $13.
7604 Hits

Sonna/Chris Brokaw/Explosions in the Sky/27/Tigersaw

It was a good 45 minut drive to Gloucester on Thursday evening but it was well worth the trip. A relatively out-of the way place called The Fishtown Artspace had a night of some very stylish rock music. Unfortunately I showed up too late to catch Tigersaw, but I do like the members and their CD is pretty sweet. 27 was playing when I walked in, also a local Boston-based group, rocking out with a strange blend of Louisville-influenced rock combined with pre-programmed electronics to accent the mix. Chris Brokaw of Come, Pullman and the New Year got up to do a short set of guitar and voice, but what knocked me off my socks was the performance from Austin-based Explosions in the Sky.

The group of four begun quiet with shimmering three-guitar melodies which cut through the night. This is one of those bands any musician just sits back and watches with their lower jaw on the floor wondering "why can't I come up with melodies like this?" The group continued and with a style not entirely unlike Mogwai or Godspeed, the levels and energy built, higher and higher and higher. Taking steps back between songs, the motion of the night never ceased, with a blaring ending as their drummer loses his sticks, uses his fists and collapses over the entire set.

Baltimore-based Sonna headlined the night and in a similar fashion was a instrumental act with four amazingly skilled musicians who observedly have an uncanny ability to pay perfect attention to everybody else. The writing style of Sonna could very well be much more skilled and original than Explosions but the energy and drive of the Austin boys more than made up for any of those differences. Fans of godspeed, Mogwai or Tarentel shouldn't avoid this show - tour dates are posted at
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Antony & The Johnsons

Try as I might to demonstrate my critical distance with some clever jab, I just can't find a single bad thing to say about Antony & the Johnsons. I've been going out of my way for quite a while to catch his every appearance, and after well over a dozen performances I continue to be stunned by what he's doing.
Even so, his performance at Joe's Pub Thursday night, with guests Little Annie & Dr. Yasuda, was a surprise for me. It wasn't the show itself — anyone who's seen him perform knows what to expect — some exciting new songs, all fantastic, new arrangements and development of older works, increasingly skillfull performances from the band members, flawless presentation and constant innovation that keeps the audience returning and growing, to invariably sold out shows. The real surprise came after he left the stage. After enthusiastic applause he returned to the stage, and gently launched into one of the most intense musical experiences of my life. Nearly all of Antony's material is his own, composed on piano. But he does a number of covers as well: his selections, always startling, are given distinctive treatment, and songs which may have been familiar suddenly speak an entirely new & vibrant language, saying things which had somehow never been audible before. Sometimes his covers are playful, even mischievous, and sometimes they are markedly rearranged. But his cover of Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit" last night was nothing less than brilliant.
I suppose from the stage he couldn't hear the rumble of gasps in the audience when he started into the first recognizable parts of this radically transformed song. One man above me (I was squatting on the floor as the room was so packed) actually said "oh my god." I've without question never been among a more hushed and riveted audience! I've no reverence for Billie Holiday, but I had the most incredible feeling of exhileration, as if I were being witness to history being made. And I can only think that this is the gift of truly great and important artistry.
You may have seen him perform this song, but no one's heard him perform THIS song before. I won't attempt to describe what he's done, but suffice it so say that Antony has thoroughly digested this standard and given miraculous birth to something entirely new: a profoundly moving and heartfelt homage to an original which has been enhanced and ennobled by a respectful but radical translation. My hair was literally standing up from beginning to end, through wave after wave of applause, and even now as I think back on it...
The applause was thunderous, then stopped, then spontaneously began again with cheers and shouts, and he actually had to ask them to stop after several minutes. Once again Antony confirms my belief in the importance of his work. And as always, he and has meticulous band do it with the most effortless elegance and grace.
Antony enthusiasts will be pleased to know that a new album is forthcoming, as well as contributions to the long-awaited new Nature & Organization release. And New Yorkers wil be treated on August 9th to a tremendous double bill at the prestigious Summerstage series in Central Park: Antony & Bebel Gilberto. Show starts at 7:30 — come early or be left out in the meadow!
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It makes me want to run screaming in primitive joy, detonating nuclear bombs, tearing down the city of Manchester and makes the perfect soundtrack to watching the sun go down as I walk the fifty minute trek through park, wastelands and dingy back streets, across the concrete divide to Planet K. It's a tape of early Killing Joke demos and live things and the wired conviction of that tribal drumming, barbarically electrifying distorted synth and lyrical visions of armageddon are still very potent, and show up much of the 'rock music' that has come along since as the vapid piffle it is.
Amazingly in Planet K things were even more perfectly apocalyptic. The stage is bare, as if swept clean of life, but there's a massive headcleaning electric crackle resonating across the space as blue white rectangles flicker where performers are missing. The hum seems a logical stripping of Killing Joke to its essential wired core - Coleman's overloading synth. Occasional deep bass pulses shake the foundations at too slow a pace to register timing. Kevin Drumm is perched behind a laptop at the sound desk and is responsible for this overpowering purging noise.
This being Manchester, home of Buzzcocks, it could've been time to crack a bad Boredom pun about the Drumm hum but Mike Ladd wasn't allowing us any downtime. The band ambled on and launched as the Drumm fizzled out.
Was this the new dawn after the nuclear storm?
After Drumm's precise tones the sound was relatively muddy for the full on four piece with drums, raps, guitar/computer and turntables. Mike Ladd has a T-shirt emblazoned with the legend Afro Punk and gives us some spiel about his inspirations Bad Brains, Black Flag and Fishbone. Why do Americans in Europe eat at Pizza Hut? There are bigger questions but this between song joke exemplified the imperialist cloak of the 'free' market before Ladd scratched and funked his mark as an infesticon (opposed to majesticon).
It was a shame that Drumm didn't get another set before Tortoise did their thing. They did a professional set with much instrument swapping and it didn't really take off until the second half. I think they launched into what seemed like a freeform jam in the middle of TNT (or was it another track its hard to tell with all this lack of words) and Herndon was really giving it some at the drums. It was neat the way they almost seemed to lose control there...
The last trio of songs nailed it. A silence still at their instruments then BLAM! Senceca unleashed that dual guitar duel and the fire and fury was in their eyes and hearts. If only they could make a whole album like that first two minutes of free falling two turning pluck'n'strum'n'drum! Then the much requested Djed was an eye opener that faded like the setting sun as McEntire and Herndon decelerated their vibraphone runs.
Where Drumm had sparked off a cleansing fire and Ladd had the diatribes and plans and notions to free nations, Tortoise were embracing visions of post-apocalyptic utopianism - a new dawn after the flood that will wash away the masters and leave the servants what is left of the world. Ladd was back with a vision to take into the night as the final bars of the Tortoise European leg faded into the smoke.
The meek shall inherit the mirth.
Don't burn the flag, lets burn the Bush.
7396 Hits

Gary Numan

Sadly enough, many people have arrived at brainwashed or are now Warp Records fans because Coil, Meat Beat Manifesto and Aphex Twin have crept into their collection through NIN remixes. What most average NIN listener doesn't realize yet is that Reznor's entire act is derivative from Cabaret Voltaire, Front 242, Kiss, 'With Sympathy'-era Ministry and above all, Gary Numan. Watching this man step on stage to a large club packed with about 600 die hard fans is a rather messianic experience. The man has a career half way through its third decade, a fresh and energetic young band and he looks incredible for his age. Numan has always toyed with the part man/part machine persona, so it comes as no surprise his backing group is a talented array of cyber rivetheads, and while his music over the years has straddled genres, it has never lost its anthemic fervor. The crowd went nuts for every song, singing along with every word, reminding me once again that I need to hear more of his post-1984 material. Of course, when suggested, most people will turn away, lumping Numan into a category with one-hit wonders and nostalgic retrospective collections including Culture Club and Kajagoogoo. So he might play "Cars" live, so what? Listen to me: it's good for you (things really only started making sense to me after seeing his live incarnate, I'll never miss a show of his now). There's nothing cheesy, aging or dated about the killer show and those who doubt are only displaying their ignorance. Live dates are posted at


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By now the group has returned to their quiet Scottish countryside homes, no doubt suffering some hearing loss after this most recent US tour. Tuesday night's stop was their second to last on this brief tour, the band played at the classical-style balcony-equipped Somerville Theatre in Boston to a nearly sold-out crowd. The performance began as most of their music does: calm, quiet, melodic and pretty. Selections included music off their recent EP and LP and their forthcoming "Rock: Action" album, due for imminent release. But be warned, since their last visit the group has gained weight, lost hair and collected distortion pedals along the way. Yes, they're fucking angry this time with a wall of sound lounder than anything I've heard in years. Exercising their volume muscles half way through the show every song began to end on a very loud note, with humming feedback dragging on while the members stood in front of amplifiers just to get -that- much more umph. But wait, just when you thought it was loud enough, the keyboardist emerges towards the front of the stage, guitar in hand, he clicks it on slams a floor pedal and BOOM! The noise suddenly becomes even more multi-dimensional. Much like many of these songs, the show itself ended with a long barrage of distortion stretching at least twenty minutes. Now, while many fans in attendance there were entirely blown away by the experience, I found it rather excessive. People were leaving the show with only one thing on their mind "that was loud!" Indeed it was, but it sort of masked the musical portion of the show. Nobody at this point could remember the keyboardist's flute-playing bits or delicate piano playing, unfamiliar melodies of a forthcoming album or a beautiful cellist that sat on stage right adding a charming color nearly half the night. It was indeed Rock Action - a bunch of teenagers nodding and agreeing with their buddies about how much that show "kicked ass." Are Mogwai to become the Motley Crue of this decade?
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On Sunday, March 25th, Coil played to about 600 people at the Lieu Unique in Nantes, France. We sat right in the middle of the room under the mixing board for the first performance, Charles Hayward. This incredible drummer surprised everyone when he fell onto the stage in a big clash and slowly started creeping towards his drums. I had never heard the Coil and Bill Laswell collaborator before, but his impressive drumming on backing tapes will remain in my memory.
The audience was then asked to leave briefly after Hayward's performance in order for the stage to be prepared for Coil, allowed to return 30 minutes later. On stage, technicians were setting up the gear and dispensing a row of lights, each one hanging from a long rope coming from the ceilings. A big screen was floating high on the wall behind the stage. Someone brought a white chalice and lit the incense inside it. The incense smelled like the kind used in churches, and it slowly started filling the concert hall. On stage were two Dutch-built Fenix modular systems, an EMS vintage synth, an analogue synth, and a digital Kurzweil keyboard.
Right on schedule, a uniformed four-member incarnation of Coil entered the stage, greeted by an appreciative audience. John Balance was on vocals, Thighpaulsandra on synthesizers, Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson performing 'manipulations', and Ossian Sex/Shop (Simon Norris?) was on keyboards. Balance addressed the crowd with a "bonjour", and immediately the opening mantra on Music to Play in the Dark 2 started: something, something, something, something,... The light accompaniment produced a tranquil visual rhythm.
The video show held the audience's interest, perfectly matching the music for the entire night, despite an alleged disappointment from Coil, due to the lack of a professional beta machine at the venue. The graphics evolved in captivating paths, including the proverbial sloth slide show which premiered in September at the Royal Festival Hall. Balance questioned the audience with: "What kind of animal are you?". Later, he informed us at that he was personally a dog!
The set continued with the same songs reported from the London show, including the much appreciated classics "Titan Arch" and "Blood From the Air." Classical percussionist Tom Edwards briefly joined Coil onstage to play marimba and various other percussive instruments, then slipped away just as quietly as he had entered when he finished.
Balance, Thighpaulsandra and Ossian Sex/Shop kept the audience entertained with their stage movements, by either dancing or walking to the row of lights to make them go on. Thighpaulsandra frequently visited the chalice between songs to re-light the incense. When he wasn't singing, John was either dancing, taking prayer poses, moving his hands around his body, or playing with the lights. I feared he would end up burning himself at some point, as their movements were quite unpredictable. Later in the show, Thighpaulsandra jumped on Balance's back, and the two rolled onto the floor, playfully fighting like puppies, strangely reminiscent of John's earlier self-identification with dogs.
An impressive rendition of "I Am The Green Child" was prefaced by John announcing that he was going to assume another personality. Indeed, his voice became decidedly lower as he adopted the 'Green Child' persona. After this finished, "CONSTANT SHALLOWNESS LEADS TO EVIL" flashed on the screen, noise blared, and the lights intensified, creating new patterns. Coil began flashing us with big strobe lights that were dispersed all around the back of the stage. Balance shouted a couple times that he needed it louder. Phrases pulsated one after the other on the screen, such as "GOD PLEASE FUCK MY MIND FOR GOOD," "PERSISTENCE IS ALL," "RESIST THE THINGS YOU CAN NOT FIGHT," and a looped repetition of "COLOR, SOUND, OBLIVION." Around the end of "Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil", John seemed to be experiencing a lot of agitation, smashing his microphone support to the ground and re-positioning it. At one point, the white chalice was struck and fell, the incense spilled out of it into a pretty line of powder on the stage floor. The chalice rolled towards the front of the stage, precariously approaching the edge when John Balance stopped it with his foot. He stood there for a moment, striking a memorable pose.
As the end was approaching, the bright lights dimmed. I wondered how my vision would readjust to the normal lighting of the room. Waves of applause and shouts burst out. The musicians came to the front of the stage and John took their hands. They briefly saluted us and then quickly vanished, visibly happy.
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Nick Cave in new Orleans

Nick Cave is just about to finish his nine-date, seven-city solo tour of the US. It seemed odd that Nick would have started off the US-dates at a place most known for the New Orleans' Symphonies: the Orpheum Theatre. After arriving and seeing the set, though, it was obvious that Cave was going for a very much more sleek, less rock-n-roll atmosphere. Too bad much of the crowd could not grasp this distinction.
Arriving at the show, which was the only date in the country that did not sell out, I was faced with an extremely eclectic crowd: from teenaged goths to swanky yuppies to drunken 40-something assholes. The show started with Kelly Hogan, who had a strange country-esque shoe-gazer style. The highlight of her show was her performance of the Magnetic Fields' "Papa was a Rodeo," though even that was overlooked because everyone wanted Nick Cave.
The stage looked simple: grand piano, drums, electric violin, electric bass, and an accordian. And hanging from the ceiling were four glowing stars set to nice blue curtains. The mood was definitely not hardcore Birthday Party/Bad Seeds rock'n'roll.
Finally Nick Cave came out, put his cigarette out, and sat at the piano. Someone shouted the question "Can we smoke too, Nick?" and he replied "Absolutely not-this is a NO SMOKING venue," and afterwards chain smoked throughout his whole performance. He opened with an assaulting version of "West Country Girl," which he played alone.
Soon he was accompanied by Jim White (drums) and Warren Ellis (accordian/violin) of the Dirty Three and Susan Strenger (bass) of Big Bottom, and played mostly recent Bad Seeds material very low-key styled, though he did throw in an old Birthday Party song, "Wild World," which picked up the pace on drums and electric violin, while Nick pounded harder at the keys and shouted a bit. My highlights were definitely "Stagger Lee," set to a cabaret-style beat with the harsh, shrill ending sounds being replaced by electric violin. The line "I'd crawl over fifty good pussies just to get to one fat boy's asshole." definitely threw aback the uptight old men serving as ushers to the rather unpredictable crowd.
Throughout the whole show you could hear Nick Cave's mental tempo being tapped out by his foot below the piano. With that known, no one could really understand why some fucking asshole kept talking loudly during the first half of the performance. Eventually security was called to deal with him, and to deal with the massive amount of people who ignored the "NO SMOKING" signs because of the "NO RE-ENTRY" signs. It was a strange show.
Along with classics like "The Mercy Seat" and "Into My Arms," he played a few new tracks from the new album, I Sat Sadly Beside Her, including "No More Shall we Part" the great "God is in the House," which is a mock-Christian anthem about a town where they "bred all our kittens white so we can see them in the night, since God is in the House." The crowd responded with a "Hallelujah!"
It was definitely a great performance. Nick Cave's amazing stage presence shined during the encore, where he played "Henry Lee," "the Ship Song," "Loom of the Land," and "Straight to You." Lastly he performed "Little Emtpy Boat" from King Ink II to end the night with a "fuck you" to the audience that left everyone laughing their ways to the exits.


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Friday, March 16th, at the Mermaid Lounge was an odd combination of music that was almost accidentally placed together. Mice Parade alone were originally booked for that particular night, and then, somewhat out of the blue, Kid 606 and Blectum from Blechdom started slowly showing up on the flyers and lists of events as playing on this same night. There was some confusion as to the validity/truth of this amongst New Orleanians, but it turned out to be an interesting show.
First up on stage was local act, Nocturnal Transmissions, which is one guy who fiddled with a 303 for about 20 minutes, making some really nice waves of melodies despite the drunken idiots who danced in mockery amongst the crowd. He stepped off, and then Kevin Blectum (from Blechdom from Blectum from Blechdom...), took to stage with her Wesley Willis-esque styled mock cabaret tunes. She started with a song in which she screamed her love of "BAD MUSIC, BAD MUSIC!" in a truly horrible voice, while her backing laptop kept shutting off at wrong moments and she seemed a little distressed. Despite this, though, her show was highly entertaining and she definitely woo'ed the audience and sold more merchandise than the others because of her hilarious performance skills. Her shining moment was her "love song" to boyfriend, Kid 606, in which she sang lyrics such as "... and it's only getting better, cuz my pussy's getting wetter! ... this sexual sensation is rockin' the nation!" and kept making references to her love for some Kid named Miguel.
Her set ended at about 12:30am, and it took Mice Parade a while to set up, as they had a wide array of unidentifiable instruments that seemed difficult to cram all onto the Mermaid's small stage. They managed, though, and their set began at about 1am, with 6 people on stage, including Adam Pierce and Him/June of '44's Doug Scharin. The instrumentation was beautiful just to look at, with electric violin, a dulcimer looking thing, something that could have been a bouzouki, along with drums and keyboards. Unfortunately, the audience was torn between being really intensely entranced by the nice music, talking about the latest sales at JC Penney's and the new Tortoise album, and wandering out as it got really late.
They ended at a little after 2am, and at 2:20am — late even for a Mermaid encore — Kid 606 finally brought his two apple laptops up on stage to rape the audience's eardrums with killer beats which morphed in and out of flowing sinsister noiseS (note: not noise). The sounds seemed surprisingly tame (much less glitch-oriented) for Kid 606. Although, considering it was about 3am, the audience seemed somewhat appreciative of the slight change. He ended at 3:20am, and all was quiet. The night was over and the audience was worn - but in a good way, like comfortable shoes or sleepiness after a hard night of listening to awesome music for over four hours. - 

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Labradford / Pan•American / Hrvatski / Marumari

Metro Boston residents were fortunate to be treated to two area performances including the first from Pan American and the latest incarnation of Hrvatski. On Thursday night at Brandeis University's Rose Gallery Museum, Keith Fullerton Whitman (known to the world as Hrvatski) began the three-act show, sitting behind his laptop, guitar in hand, creating a film score-like experience.
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Magnetic Fields perform "69 Love Songs"

For two nights in a row, loads of folks made their journeys, some near and some far, through the blistering cold temperatures to witness Stephin Merritt and company perform all 69 Love Songs. Both nights sold out long ago at the classical-style Somerville Theater in the Boston area. On stage in addition to the four core musicians were the three guest singers who appear on the albums. For the first night I witnessed something rather unexpected.

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I think I can finally put my finger on the characteristic of godspeed you black emperor's music which pulls at the emotions of so many people across the musical taste spectrum. Music listeners will have songs they're very fond of, and instrumentation can strike up an intense emotional response with a strong recurring refrain or chord progression. Something grand and beautiful will always be that one part of a song you just wish would go on longer. The Godspeed folks have taken that idea, the thought of a musical phrase itself and extended it, nurturing the sound. The sound becomes one on its own and has its own living and breathing life. They draw the sound out, let it build, color it with the numerous tools (2 bass guitars, 2 percussionists, 3 guitarits and 2 string players sure help) and let it run its natural course, letting it die perfectly without that sound—the riff or hook—becoming too redundant or repetitious. After all is done, an album of two to three tracks comes to a close, you feel satisfied, satiated and happy. The concert opened up with a performance by what was billed as Bonnie Prince Billy and the Marquid de Tren, the lineup was Will Oldham singing and playing guitar, Jim White (from Palace and other projects) on the drums, a bass guitarist and Mick Turner on guitars, loops, harmonica and melodica. The set was quiet yet gut wrenching. The addition of Mick Turner's layered guitar works on top of Oldham's bluesy heartfelt voice was a fantastic match, the bass took the role of providing the low pulse and the jazz-like improvisational drumwork from Jim pulled everything together quite magically. Luckily fans of the set could walk away with their album along with the two similar and fantastic Molasses discs at the merchandise counter. Godspeed's set was marked by a few stellar new tunes which haven't graced an official album yet along with popular favorites from all their commercial releases. The set lasted over two hours and ended with a beautiful encore with band spokesman Efrim playing the xylophone while drummers Bruce and Aidan walked through the audience playing percussives. The show was held in a rather large movie theater with a seated audience, and was sold out before the day of the show, which leads me to wonder where they'll play next time around. This setting was seemingly perfect, where everybody present could enjoy every single note while being close enough to view everything happening onstage. Any more would be less intimate, any less would be too packed.
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