Multi-Purpose Chemical

Liverpool, Barfly

Start. BangBangBang, Arrgh, ChugnaChugnaChugna. German? Spanish? Popeye?? Beware The Fog! Dddle, Dddle, Dddle. “FUCK YOU”. Hop, Hop, SKIP! Jump Jump, Pinocchio! ‘I Would Walk (500 Miles)’. Eyeliner, now solooo. “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT YOU CANNOT BE FREE?” Grrraaahh. “Thou shall have a fishy on a little dishy…” (I am not making this up). “WAR Heuugh, good god…ABSOLUTLEY NOTHIN’!” Death/Warrr/DEATH/WARRR. Taptaptap, Woooh. Head butt camera, End…Fuck…YES!

By Kenn Taylor

Zombina and the Skeletones

@ Roadkill, Liverpool.

In the not too distant past the music scene in Liverpool was still dominated by half-arsed, I-wish-we-was-The La’s-la bands, content with playing mediocre scouse-rock and slapping each other on the back. Things are much better nowadays, but it took a lot of guts and glory to topple that mulleted hegemony and one of the bands leading the charge were Zombina and the Skeletones.  Bursting outta nowhere and splattering the city with fake blood, sweat and most importantly songs from another universe. A universe where life is like a fucked up, Nick Cave version of Scooby Doo with a  soundtrack of Punk, Ska, Surf-pop, Rockabilly and New wave. Unable to get booked they founded their own club night ‘Useless’, which for its duration became a haven for bands though varied in sound, were united in uniqueness and quality. One album, numerous line up changes and support slots with the likes of The Misfits and The Dammed later, they are playing there first gig for a while at Liverpool’s newish Roadkill venue; a car-wreck wonderland with squashed rodent dolls adorning the walls. Zombina and co meander on, all resplendent in their traditional teenager-on-trick-or-treat makeup, minus lead vocalist Zombina herself, dashing in a leopard-skin print thingy. They launch with ‘The Grave and Beyond’ a chunk of their standard, slasher-movie punk and proceed to thrash their way through a set filled with hard and bouncy little balls of twisted pop energy. Zombina flicks between her sweet/desperate American-tinged singing voice and her more down-to-earth Scouse patter as the collective sweat of the venue seems to drip down exclusively on the band. The crowd tonight however, remains by and large quite subdued beyond the barrier-ramming hardcore. They reveal a new song, ‘Your Girlfriends Head’, a fast little missile, perhaps showing a harder new direction, then along comes ‘Staci Stasis’ a class bit of punk-pop, Doo-wop, barbershop business. While ‘Angel Eyes’ is straight off the Grease soundtrack, if you crossed it with Carrie maybe. They crash down with what is perhaps their best song, the gem that is ‘Nobody Likes You When You Dead’, which for all its horror stylings shows they can have the odd touching moment.

In this scribbling I have had to slam a lot of words together to try and trap the phenomenon of Zombina, but ultimately these kinda cats and these kinds of sounds should be free of too much analysis, lest we ruin. Just don some plastic fangs and pogo, for tomorrow may be too late.

By Kenn Taylor

Elbow

Liverpool, University

22nd October 2008

Elbow arrive on stage with instruments and arms held purposely aloft. This band have slowly been building a solid following since your correspondent was a lad, and now, finally vindicated with big prizes and movie-soundtrack deals, you could perhaps forgive them for a touch of smugness.

But there’s nonesuch from Guy Garvey et al, despite playing to an audience of over 1,500, the between song banter is akin to that in a smoky pub – If pubs were allowed to be smoky anymore.

In the midst of the songs themselves though, Elbow know that they’re here to put on a show, and ‘Starlings’ is a suitable opener, not only managing to be both funky and tingly, but enhanced by the presence of a scantly-clad backing group armed with day-glo maracas.

Elbow also know how to create an atmosphere, one of the most exhilarating The Fly has experienced for some time, and this without the need for pyrotechnic instrumentation. They create peaks and troughs that bring a sigh to your heart and a drill to your teeth. Elbow supply poetry and depth without the self-pity. Emotion is a dirty word these days, but they do it with dignity and pathos.

The lyrics are subtle and the music big but not overwhelming. The bass of Pete Turner puts meat on the bones of what they do, Guy’s voice, with both passion and range, more than carries the emotion, while the combined instrumentation of the rest of them keep the audience tense and pleased.

They promise to return to the stage for an encore providing we, the audience, sing them something ‘local’. The Fly’s suggestion is ‘The Trumpton Riots’ by Half Man Half Biscuit, but Elbow opt for ‘Hey Jude’. The audience are not backwards about coming forward in the singing request though, as might be expected, there’s a quick fast-forward to the ‘Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Nas’, and they seem to go on forever. Still, it helps cement the audience together, which it already pretty much is despite its diversity from freshers to labourers that form the diverse Elbow fanbase.

After they return, ‘Some Riot’ brings us to new heights and we end spectacularly on ‘Scattered Black and Whites’. In the time Elbow have taken to get to this triumphant show at Liverpool University, thousands of next big things have crashed and burned. We’ve always said, it’s best to do it the slow way, and we think Elbow will still be giving us breathtaking music for many years to come.

By Kenn Taylor

Polysics

Liverpool, Barfly.

Red forms flit across the stage-Afro, asymmetric and pigtails respectively. Just ‘HELLO!’ then bonkers juddering squealing beeping banging yelling, pink printed circuit boards on fire, infectious punk pop oomph. Pause for breath, amp fiddle, Asymmetric: ‘HELLO! WE ARE POLYSICS FROM TOKYO JAPAN’, he flexes a muscle, ‘GIVE ME FIRE! GIVE ME FIRE!’ and we give him fire, because we justfuckingwellhavetoo. Red flashes leave the stage, crouch in corner, and back: ‘OH YEAH, OH YEAH, BUY MERCHANDISE!’ Yes, we shall leader. Then ‘de de de de de My My My Sharona…’ Kichigai panku jun, methinks.

By Kenn Taylor

The Longcut

Liverpool, Academy

Much talked about Manchester trio The Longcut, enter without ceremony and fly straight into the first bars of their many-layered force.

They move little on stage, presence coming instead from their concentrated intensity. Frontman Stuart Ogilvie wails with eyes-shut passion, before doing his well-known switch to the drums. Hunched and fringe-hidden guitarist Lee treats his instrument as if it’s an animal he must contain, but is nonetheless impeccable in his janglescatrch fretwork, while bassist John just gets on with providing a brooding undercurrent.

Despite the ferocity of the sound, the audience remain largely still. We’re not sure if this is appreciation, confusion or indifference but The Fly and its associates in a minority moving to the music. Ogilvie jumps back to the front for the long rush of ‘A Tried and Tested Method’ and on ‘Gravity in Crisis’ adds nifty dancing to his abilities. Though he remains a better sticksman than singer, his passion and the way his vocals form an extension of the rhythm is powerful.

And The Longcut are all about the rhythm. It isn’t the kind of pulse that immediately compels you to grind you hips or bounce. Instead it slowly gets into your nervous system and when it’s burrowed deep enough, takes over without your knowledge, on the likes of mesmerizing Massive Attack-with-guitars of ‘The Kiss Off’ and the driving, expanding ‘Lonesome No More!’.

Their songs are loose in structure, taking speedy but long tours before they reach were they heading. In the wrong hands this sort of game can turn into plodding, shoegazing nonsense, but they have the knack to make it a nerve-tingling journey.

As they play the climbing, incessant ‘Spires’ the message seems to finally reach were it needs to in the crowd and led by a single enthusiastic female, the audience begin to shift their bodies. Closing on a blistering ‘A Quiet Life’, which merges an unapologetic dance groove, metallic guitar flicks and Ogilvie’s most clear shouts, finally convinces the majority to shake their booty.

The Longcut’s music is epic, but not ‘big’. Rather than climb mountains, it runs through dark caves lit by disco lights and while not immediately gripping, it is slowly captivating. There seems to remain however, something of a gap between them and the audience. Maybe they need to refine what they poses or maybe it’s up to us to adjust to their settings. They leave without an encore, likely to a bright future.

By Kenn Taylor

The Leftfield of Liverpool

The people behind organising the Left Field stage of the Glastonbury festival in Somerset have headed north, and, in conjunction with local promoters, assembled a quite excellent line up of some of Merseyside’s finest young bands for a gig with a good cause behind it.

The event will be headlined by giddy, surreal pop-purveyors Elle S’appelle, who’ve been causing minor stirs in the music press of late, and the gig at the Carling Academy also features jangly-but-driven Liverpool-based indie outfit Married to the Sea and Southport’s answer to The Libertines, The Daisy Riots. Meanwhile, coming from the Wirral will be The Rascal’s, formed from the ashes of popular local act The Little Flames, and the excellent prog-pop outfit The Seal Cub Clubbing Club.

The Left Field is an integral part of the Glastonbury Festival. Organised by trade unionists and activists, it is committed to combining music with political campaigning. The Liverpool gig is the first time The Left Field has held an event outside their base in Somerset, and, as part of a reciprocal agreement with the Culture Company, all of the bands playing at the Academy will also be featured in a special segment on The Left Field stage at Glastonbury itself this June.

As decreed by Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis, all profits from the Liverpool event will go to Anti Slavery International. Founded in 1839, Anti Slavery International is the world’s oldest international human rights organisation and the only charity in the United Kingdom to work exclusively against slavery and related abuses worldwide.

By Kenn Taylor

Wednesday 14th May,

The Left Field in Liverpool,

Carling Academy,

11-13 Hotham Street,

Liverpool,

Doors: 7pm,

£7.50 adv.

http://www.leftfield.coop

Clinic

In Liverpool’s year of culture, it has been great to see the re-opening of that old arts institution, the Bluecoat. The centre has undergone a radical transformation in the three years it has been shut, and now boasts a purpose-built, multi-function performance space.

The space hosted its debut performance a few weeks ago with a brilliant set by The Steve Reid Ensemble. This week though, sees the Bluecoat turn its eyes to the local scene, by hosting a gig from Clinic. Around since 1997, Clinic have been one the most critically-acclaimed bands ever to come out of Liverpool. Their first release ‘I.P.C Subeditors Dictate Our Youth’ was trumpeted as NME’s Single of the Week, and since then they have released four albums and developed a cult following worldwide.

Noted for their use of vintage keyboards and organs, pounding rhythms, peculiar chord progressions and frontman Ade Blackburn’s intense, acidic vocals, the band have constantly pushed to find original sounds. Yet despite the fact that they have played with The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Arcade Fire, received a Grammy nomination and appeared on the David Letterman show, they remain little known in their home city.

But perhaps this gig, which kicks off a world tour to promote new album ‘Do It’, might change this. In particular as the support act is of the most popular local bands of the moment, Hot Club De Paris, who’ve recently returned to the city having finished recording their second album in Chicago. This meeting of musical spheres is just what we need in 2008.

By Kenn Taylor

Wednesday 2nd April,

Clinic/Hot Club de Paris,

The Bluecoat,

School Lane,

Liverpool,

8:00pm-11pm,

£12

http://www.clinicvoot.org