John Foxx and the Maths @ Leamington Assembly, 13th October 2011

John Foxx and the Maths 17

John Foxx is now known as the man who started Ultravox in 1974, way before the early 80’s chart successes enjoyed by the band’s later incarnation. By 1979, Ultravox! (with or without exclamation mark) had released 3 critically acclaimed albums (a major influence on a subsequent generation of electronic musicians) on the Island record label, but not received the chart success the label required, so were dropped by Island. John left the band and went solo and released his first solo album “Metamatic” in 1980 and followed with 3 further albums up to 1985 achieving modest chart success.

John Foxx and the Maths 14

Fast forward to 1997, and after a long sojourn under the radar, John Foxx returned with 2 albums “Cathedral Oceans” and “Shifting City” the latter, a collaboration with Louis Gordon. Since his return John Foxx has become a prolific artist, releasing over 20 albums of material, some solo and some in collaboration with artists such as Harold Budd, Steve Jansen (Japan), Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)and many more besides. Numerous future projects are in the offing including work with Paul Daley (Leftfield) and others which represents an immense body of work and a fantastic work rate!

Back to the present day; John Foxx and the Maths, John Foxx’s latest collaborative are touring the recently released “Interplay” a predominantly analogue electronic album. Joining John in the band is “Benge” on Keyboards and Percussion, Serafina Steer (Keyboards and Bass) and Hannah Peel (Keyboards and Violin) all artists in their own right.

John Foxx and the Maths 10

Tonight’s show is the First night of the tour is at the Leamington Assembly, not your typical modern concrete box but a beautiful Art Deco venue built in 1926 and after a spell as a Bingo Hall reopened in 2008 as a performance venue. The multi-million pound refit was designed by Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen of BBC’s “Changing Rooms” fame.

The support for this evening is Tara Busch, a Los Angeles and Cardiff based musician and producer who appears on stage surrounded by analogue and digital synthesisers and plays further instruments and has additional percussionist on stage. Its Tara’s birthday and gets a birthday shout out from the audience, which is gratefully received. Tara sings in a hauntingly operatic voice (likened by NME to that of Kate Bush) and plays tracks from 2009’s “Pilfershire Lane” and current EP “The Rocket Wife” a benefit for the Bob Moog Foundation, the standout track being “We Can See Mars”.

John Foxx and the Maths 04John Foxx and the Maths 03

Benge, Serafina and Hannah arrive on stage first to clapping and cheering, followed by John Foxx who receives a louder welcome. A brief nod of acknowledgement and the set opens with Interplay’s lead track “Shatterproof” No projectors, digital screens, video screens or other hi-tech stuff here, harsh lighting and dry ice are the only effects going on. “Shatterproof” is followed by “He’s a Liquid” from 1980’s “Metamatic” and then returns the current album with “Evergreen”. The music is well received by the audience with clapping and cheering but remaining fixed in their seats.

The gap between the front row and the stage is some 15-20 feet which seems impassable and even taking photographs for the show felt intrusive and exposed. This is unusual for a John Foxx gig which are usually crowded, standing and often sweaty affairs.

With barely a nod from Foxx, the set continues with No-One Driving (Metamatic), followed by The Running Man (Interplay) which is heavily strobe-lit to accompany the driving rhythm. As a taster for the forthcoming John Foxx and the Maths album “The Shape of Things” new track “The Shadow of His Former Self” gets a good reception. The set is packed with early Ultravox material (but only from “Ha! Ha! Ha!” and “Systems of Romance”), classic solo Foxx from the “Metamatic” album and all but two of the tracks from the current “Interplay” album.

John Foxx and the Maths 01

As the set goes on, Foxx lets his guard slip and brief acknowledgements to the band members are becoming evident, but still no discourse with the audience, although the band are obviously warming up. By the time “Catwalk” begins, the barrier at the front of the stage is gone as a few members of the audience run down to the front and begin dancing, clearly enjoying the new material.

“Summerland” follows, and then the pace slows down with “Just for a Moment” a slow heartbeat paced track accompanied by Hannah’s violin, (the final track on 1978’s “Systems of Romance”) and then lifts again for “Burning Car”, the set closer. John ends the show with a “Thank you and good night”
For the encore, the audience have filled the space in front of the stage for “The Good Shadow” and set closer the solo classic “Underpass” with plenty of dancing, camera flashes and there’s even a video camera capturing the final throes of the show. With a final “Thanks for having a good time” from Foxx, the band left the stage for the last time.

John Foxx and the Maths 06John Foxx and the Maths 13

The show was a classic mix of new and old material, and even now Foxx still has enough influence to get the new generation of artists on side to produce great new electronic music. Long may it continue.
After the show, I got a few words with John Foxx before the band set off for Poland to the next gig. By John’s own admission the set was still too long as evidenced by the set-list handed out which showed “Cross Fade” an Ultravox “B” side from the single “Quiet Men” and a slightly different running order.

– Shatterproof
– He’s a Liquid
– Evergreen
– No-one Driving
– The Running Man
– The Shadow Of His Former Self
– Hiroshima Mon Amour
– A New Kind Of Man
– Plaza
– Watching A Building On Fire
– Dislocation
– Interplay
– Catwalk
– Summerland
– Just For A Moment
– Burning Car

– The Good Shadow
– Underpass

Review & Photos – Ken Harrison

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *