Bull & Gate,
Abdoujaparov + I, Ludicrous + Bransby
|Two years on, the Novelty is not waning.
For the privileged Bull & Gate crowd, this is the first I, Ludicrous gig since May 1998. As 9:15 approaches, the Venue swells, & the drinks flow. There is palpable anticipation, as I, Ludicrous ascend the stage: some gaze curiously as John assembles the Ludicrous machine; others - journalists, night shift workers, stumbling Palace supporters, et al. appreciate, with a practised eye, the main event.
Before my first sip of brandy, the noise rips in: Will launches into a
| Set list:
Get Away from the Rabble
|gritty rendition of "Get Away from the Rabble", featured on the forthcoming
EP. The thumping lyric hits home, driven by a mesmerising guitar hook. It seems to me
the band mean business. The hiatus in their recording career appears to
reap dividends. There is a discipline here that belies the spartan "set",
a simplicity lost to the nervous
smiles flickering in the darkness.
Not pausing for the applause, Will hits his stride in "Approaching 40". John supplies another murderous riff, as the lyric expounds mixed feelings for another 'decade'. Indeed, itís hard to believe the Ludicrous noise has been active for over 15 years. The memories come flooding back, of when I first played "Preposterous Tales" to my nonplussed mates, & failed Humanities CSE. Another new song, "Autobiography" (also on the EP), finds Will again in nostalgic mood, laced with a familiar sharp wit.
Next up is a favourite "Textline". The mundane lyric points to something hollow abhorrent even in our dilapidated business parks, our factories of the mind, a theme in part revisited in the biting "Small Businessman", as the band vent their contempt for the plagiarising leech economies. It is gratifying to discover later that, whereas Textline have suffered ignominious death, I, Ludicrous endure.
Then John unleashes another wave of sound for a surprise cover "Where were You?" by the Mekons (Will saw their first gig) which, despite lacking the Ludicrous Ďdrum & bassí, sits in well with the overall material. Though I am unfamiliar with the Mekonsí catalogue, maybe there is room for a cover(?) on the forthcoming disc.
After a deliberate false start, John continues his search for perfection in "Carter" a track of particular resonance tonite, as "Les" from Carter USM sits uncomfortably in the audience. The band exploit the atmosphere, & deliver an extended version of this favourite, pregnant with a dark humour. The imitators next on the bill (feeble hecklers) look on senseless, & confer between themselves, confusing their po-faced complacency with art, or depth when the genuine article stands before them.
Then the finale: John cranks up the drum kit for an anthemic "Football, Beer & a Cigarette". Will throws down the gauntlet: "Have you worked it out yet?" Some perceive irony, & laugh; others appear angry, unmasked by the nakedness of the sentiment, at odds with their 'agonised' art. The imitators want to be smug, but first they need to understand the genius at work. The music, as ever, ploughs on relentless like a drug, it lends a need & desire for more.
And then itís over, a dream until the next time, to inspire the mundane interval. The band depart with minimal fuss, eager for a drink no doubt, as their devoted fans loiter at the bar. I believe John & Will have ample material for a new album in the mulch of mediocrities, & media-inspired puppets, this original, & still evolving act implores a wealthy sponsor, to deliver them the theatres nay, stadiums - they deserve.
Review by John Bedwell and photos © Gez Wood. More of Gez's superb gig photos can be found at his web site.
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