Saturday, 6 December 2008

A Child Rasputin/ Joe-EE-T/ DJ Fresh/ Loose Kites/ Tribal Brides Of The Amazon @ BBC Radio Stoke Open Centre. SUBCulture Xmas Party. December 6th.

Review and photos
by Danny Hill

he annual works’ Christmas party; a seasonal institution etched into the hearts and minds of many of us. An opportunity for employers to express their well-intentioned gratitude and thanks to the hard-working employees with small gifts and gallons upon gallons of alcohol. In all honesty though, the annual Christmas party, for most of us, is an opportunity to drown ourselves in a deep, dark sea of overindulgence, manifesting itself in highly uncharacteristic and alcohol-induced acts of roguishness and depravity that will inevitably lead to a shameful conclusion and a dressing-down in the manager’s office the following Monday morning. It goes with the territory. Or is that just me?

The guys at BBC Radio Stoke SUBCulture, however, do thing a little differently. Their line-up on Thursday evening read like a glorious selection box of treats from a wide range of musical genres. Matt Lee and Dave Hamer did an excellent job of presenting the event throughout, under considerable circumstances. Set in the foyer of BBC Radio Stoke’s Open Centre on Cheapside, Hanley, the entire event went out over the waves exclusively live. So no profanities please everybody. Please. It was then I found myself wondering, and not for the last time that night, what fun would be had had accustomed potty-mouths Parradox, or The Title’s Guy Davies been invited along. Just as I’d began to imagine the pair tethered and gagged, secured in a remote location around 100 miles from the studio, Tribal Brides Of The Amazon (who, for the sake of literary economy, I shall now refer to as TBOTA) began the show with a blistering rendition of Smokey Pig.

To me, TBOTA have a sound that seems to have built its foundations in blues. Somewhere. A darker, grittier shade of the Blues perhaps. Yet, saying that, their technique shatters any boundaries of predictability with the sheer eclecticism in their rhythm playing. In addition to that, Jim Mycock’s vocals add a further dimension with its wailing and charging melody. Purely infectious. Bob Dylan once said that; “Musical evolution is a snake with its tail in its mouth, forever circling around and around.” Over the past couple of years we’ve seen something of a Blues revival, led from the front by the now mainstream-savvy Kings Of Leon. One can’t help but think TBOTA may have carved something of a niche out in today’s current music marketplace. All that remains for them is their music to be discovered by the right hands. The lads - Jim (Guitar/Vocals) Jake Morgan (Lead Guitar) Jon Cole (Bass) and Michael Walsh (Drums) refer to their style as “melodic Sonic Youth-esque with a Beefhearty twist” and I’ll vouch for that.

Next up, practically bouncing with youthful enthusiasm and instructing affairs from a laptop, Joe-EE-T had the small audience rocking appreciatively to his track Cold Feet. Looking on admirably was fellow Stoke Sounds contributor and artist DJ Fresh, who is good friends with the lad’s father. Joe-EE-T, throughout the evening, showed great signs of promise and not a hint of nervousness, interacting with the crowd and inviting them into his set. I’m sure that with such raw talent, confidence and guidance in the form of seasoned local institution DJ Fresh the lad will go far.

I had been warned of A Child Rasputin’s brilliance as I arrived by Fresh, so I looked forward to his introduction. To look at (and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this) he’s an odd-looking fellow, in his old-fashioned garb, pork pie hat and neatly-trimmed handlebar moustache. But to see A Child Rasputin perform and to listen to his musical ideology is to understand that it’s all part of his truly astonishing act. Acting alone, he adds a whole new meaning to the term “ambidextrous”, using both feet on loop-pedals, fingers on keyboards, hands on two mic’s simultaneously. Did I mention a beatbox? You can also add guitar playing to his instrumental résumé as well, with what looks like a very nifty-looking Fender Telecaster. Phew! And yet A Child Rasputin manages to fit all these different functions in so deftly and artistically that one would think they were listening to three or four people instead of one man. Added to that, he also has a quirkiness and eccentricity in his mannerisms during his act which translates amusingly to his audience. Put simply, he is impossible not to watch. His tunes aren’t bad either. I Want You To Know has an ethereal quality, climaxing beautifully with exquisite vocal harmonies and effects. More please.

If you haven’t yet heard of The Loose Kites, then you really should include them in your “Gigs to attend” priorities in 2009. Already with five residencies across the country, The Loose Kites are a band in high demand. The hirsute acoustic Chester quartet began with Radiation Vibe, the sing-a-long rockabilly-esque engaging immediately with the audience. Singer Si’s gravelley tones set me in the mind of Joe Cocker, and the overall musicianship of the band, with two backing singers, personified significantly by the acapella opening of Roo Bah Bah Now. There’s nothing ground-breakingly original or imaginative about The Loose Kites, and it’s not too difficult to envision which direction any critics would head from. But, to me, that’s just being pedantic. Because for what Loose Kites seemingly lack in innovation they certainly make up for in the likeability factor, ranging somewhere between a basket full of fluffy kittens and extra helpings of mum’s homemade meat and potato pie. They certainly have some very good tunes to their credit, too. The Loose Kites, later on the show, would go on to perform new song Lothario and Devil’s In The Detail. I’d wish them luck for the future, but on the strength of their upcoming tour schedule, in terms of their popularity, I don’t think they need any.

Next up was maestro DJ Fresh, the most relaxed-looking guy in the place, and protégé Joe-EE-T, performing a solid rendition of I Am The Law, the pair melding flawlessly together in their act. This was followed by a nostalgic trip back to the ‘80s with a remix of Synth Train, its lyrics depicting a golden age of dance music and club culture - Old Skool at its gritty, hard-edged very best. The pair will soon be appearing together again with Parradox and Dirty Mundays at The Underground on December 20th. You wouldn’t wanna miss it.

TBOTA returned with their concentrated energy and a few more tracks from their vastly-expanding tune inventory, including fans’ favourite Trippin’ Balls, which ended the show as suitably as they began it. A Child Rasputin also returned with a couple more tracks, including the sensational When Yer 30, transcending from a lush, hymn-like tune to screeching cacophonic proportions, a song that tips your senses to the very brink. In conversation, A Child Rasputin is genial, calmly-spoken and unequivocally modest. He announced a European tour in the not-too-near-future.

Dave and Matt did a great job between acts presenting the show, with only a few minor technical hiccups. There were also a few familiar faces from Stoke’s burgeoning scene in the audience on Thursday night - including The Control, who were included in one of the “Best of 2008” recordings also broadcast, alongside Sgt Wolfbanger’s Elevator Music. For those who didn’t already know, Dave and Matt’s show is broadcast every Thursday night on BBC Radio Stoke, 7-9 p.m. Long may their outstanding contribution to the area’s unsigned artists continue. Xmas party hats off to them.


A Child Rasputin
DJ Fresh
The Loose Kites
Tribal Brides of the Amazon

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