With five acts, and a pre-11 o’clock curfew, all credit due to the four support bands: The Heist, Little Wing, Lakota Sioux and Flatline Stereo respectively, for adhering to the essential stage-craft etiquette of keeping to their set-list time slots. Their youthful exuberance, admirably supported by families young and old (excellent inclusive door policy, Academy!), was reflected in their breathless determination to give it their all.
Some of them might re-consider the option of doing ‘cover’ songs. Firstly, it reflects on the confidence in their own material. Secondly, punters might go away remembering the ‘cover’ songs, not their own. And, thirdly, there may, just may be, a talent-scout who would judge them based on the former observations. And when you mention all the Twitter/Facebook/Myspace connections – make sure you tells us, the punter, who you are! Finally, let’s face it, you can’t do sex and drugs with your mom and dad there. And they would have scoffed the back-stage rider whilst you were on-stage anyway. Nevertheless, we should celebrate and embrace these nascent, urban anthems from blooming youths with curious optimism.
Debuting songs from the long in gestation, now born to a grave new world, album, ‘Muzzle for the Masses’ This Burning Age, aspire to, and unquestionably achieve their stated quest in empathising with Nabokov’s philosophy in that, ‘(Their) loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty and soft music.’ Indeed, noble sentiments and ones, as broad-church inclusive rock ‘n rollers, we heartily embrace.
‘Muzzle For The Masses’ is the sometimes dark, aesthete, conceptual star-child of the enigmatically named, Friday, whose composition and multi-instrumental/vocal solo (co-produced) album, is a prodigious achievement and a work of singular imagination. His homage to Phil Spector/ Steve Albini’s production values being self-evident. Live, this formidably skilled band of intuitive, dynamic-driven musicians are fronted by said vocals/guitar, Friday, consumed and compelled to share his impassioned stage-presence. Fine-chiseled, charismatic looks with accentuating eye-liner, dressed in sartorial sombre blacks and grey, he could be some morphation of Morrisey and Prince. Blissful barrages of beautifully heavy guitars, often drenched, but subtly nuanced by pedal effects, samples and loops, created a sensual, consuming feast of aural intoxication.
Listening to the album, post-gig, again and again one becomes embraced by the compelling conceptual ethos that permeate and defines Friday and the band’s exploration of inner-scape psyches and outer-limits/subliminal contemporaneous observations of a fractured, vulnerable, confused modern world. The album, the website and the live performance are an inclusive entity. This could sound pretentious and fey but, citing Friday as the catalyst, there’s an insightful, urgent intelligence at work here demonstrating a richness of lyricism and narrative contexts; accentuated by disarming modesty, complimented by an unshakable self-conviction. What do they sound like? Implacably, and foremost, themselves alone. Nuances of Interpol’s take on Joy Division and Bauhaus’ Pete Murphy’s alternative Goth-rock experimental minimalist vocal atonality – just for starters. Eno, weaving teasing skeins of Roxy Music electronica before his life in the Bush with Ghosts, possibly. Depeche Mode/Gary Numan maybe. You want more? Check-out the web-site’s ‘Commonwealth’ family-tree of influences with citations comprehensive enough to guarantee a Doctorate in all things muso cool. But no J.G. Ballard, H.P. Lovecraft or Amon duul?
The set opened with ‘The Last Day’ that, on the album, opens with the ghoulishly pragmatic voice-over advice from the ‘Protect & Survive’ 1980 propaganda campaign on how to cope with a nuclear attack – except that you won’t. Not prominent in tonight’s mix but then the whole evening rippled with sub-sonic, sub-textual cyphers and cryptic ambience. Sideways glances at things not quite not there. About the band: on our stage right were the ones with HAIR! Seriously, Daily Mail apoplexy inducing post-hippy hirsute mayhem with new member, David Bennett, on far-out groovo-sonic bass with tattoos and dreads that might explain why he’s just only just come above-ground after The Battle Of The Beanfields. Lead-guitar, Jon Farrington’s granny must weep at the length of it and sent him a 50p postal-order to buy conditioner and, on the condition, he gets it cut before the family wedding. Stage left is seasoned, co-lead guitar, Russ Harris. A studied lesson in letting the mad ones cut loose whilst the more sanguine elaborate the most beguiling fret textures of minimalist charm.
New drummer, Tim Wilson’s, feral machine-gun beats were a consummation of atomic-clock accurate timing. Closing song is the Byronic, romancing ‘Honey’ that intros to a sparse guitar/vocal that recalled both Wreckless Eric’s ‘Whole Wide World’ and U2 circa Joshua Tree, inevitably exploding in to heroic guitar slabs of divine grandure. Surely, theirs is the second coming Age of Burning new contours across our sonic synapses. A band, hot-wire locked in to a future-shock contra-fusion of unlimited possibilities. Name-check for sound-man, Adam, whose sympathetic attention to the bands’ rapid equipment change-overs and adroit mixing was a study in professionalism. And, not least, the beautiful Faye on security, who is Brumlive’s darling for smooth, official guest-list access at numerous gigs.
Setlist: Last Day, Nothing, End Game, Stronger, Faster, Fitter, No Surrender, Human Condition, Conceal, Panic, Honey.
Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Ian Dunn