Having been recommended to catch local band Gleam’s video ‘Believe’ on YouTube, Brum Live felt duty bound to check them out live. Said video is a moody noir set piece dripping with anthemic atmospherics with the added bonus of a pixie-chic lass waving a sparkler about. The signature five-note vocal riff supported by a choked-up chainsaw chugging swagger gets catchy – very brain-wormingly catchy. Also featured are Miss Marple’s lounge standard lampshades, which we have not seen the likes of since the Trout Mask Replica gatefold. So that’s encouraging.
Psychedelic shoegaze? Well, to a point, and there’s maybe a smidgen of Radiohead stadium ambition? No mistake, they are ambitious, confident and damnibly tight. The problem tonight was that there were three support bands to cram in before an eleven o’clock curfew. Gleam didn’t get on until 10.20 and that was after some tech glitches. Four bands does give local acts an admirable chance to learn their stagecraft but it does leave the headliners chomping at the bit and little time to get tech and stuff sorted. Nobody’s fault mind – especially when describing the stage as ‘compact’ lends it postage stamp arena status. With all this in mind Brum Live are going to catch Gleam in a couple of months time and enjoy a full set and bring everyone up to speed. Strongly recommend the video to be getting on with.
Maybe it’s just the inevitable post Brexit dystopian zeitgeist that is weighing so heavily in the hearts our disenfranchised youth. This might explain the rationale behind the three support bands’ names. Opening act duo, Apathy, are not exactly a gratuitously Goth sulkathon more a drum/guitar effects combo angst attack. An exceedingly handsome, young panda eyed husky female vox and a skins-slick young drummer boy. Think Anna Calvi (bit of a lazy clichÃ© there admittedly) with slacker Retro Romo skater Garage and a twist of Jeff Buckley and Segor Ros. Apathy’s amplified Torch-drone spiced with exotic Arabic tonal tunings distilled through Chris Isaacs’s whammy bar is one to keep an ear out for.
Three piece Oceania take their name from the dystopian superstate in Orwell’s 1984. Might this explain their indulgence with copious effects pedals and tendency to create a mashed up gang-bang of The Cure/Cult & The Stranglers with some frankly obtuse time signature shifts? O’Brien’s closing speech -‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.’ OK lads, we’re all pissed off about Brexit but you know, Man up!
Trippy Dance/Aceeed!/Thrash retro racket rebels? Or is it Brit-Punk Madchester Psychedelic? Whatever, Half Asleep refuse to be confined by the straightjacket dictates of recognisable musical conventions. Further, it’s abundantly evident they draw much comfort and satisfaction from this. Whether this was mutually recognised, let alone appreciated by the majority of the punters remains a matter of conjecture. Again some putters were in sweaty heaven.
About Suki10c. The name rolls around the tongue like your gum hole after a molar extraction — by the dentist from Marathon Man. Likewise it sounds like a pre Wall-Fall, East German angle-grinder that didn’t bother with wussy things like an Earth terminal. But don’t be put off. The venue exterior is a psychic-pureÃ© riot of subdued hippy graffiti whilst the interior is decidedly confined. Whilst not quite matching Trainspotting’s worst bogs in Scotland motif, the Gents might generously be described as Post Modernist Grand Design tiling grouted with Hear Say’s pitiful tears of failure dried by Simon Cowell’s halitosis.
A Peaky Blinder nod to the bar tariff being pleasingly fair priced. Two things though, hello, smoke machine man/woman? — Little is more. And stage lighting? Get some — bands look really stupid holding up their smartphones during a set. Altogether a niche, cool nice venue a stoner’s thrown from the City Uni surrounded by neo Art Deco facades of semi-derelict factories and the majestic sweep of the blue-engineer bricked railway viaduct. Keep an eye on your feta, olives and artisan beers though, the Hipster condo conversion loft brigade must surely be moving in soon. Christ, Hipsters – the Zika virus of credibility.
Gleam’s stage setlist.
Tonight Leave Your Life
Review: John Kennedy
Photographs: Ian Dunn