The Thurston Moore Band @ The Hare & Hounds, 19th May 2015


It isn’t often you get to see a legend of the alternative music scene in a small intimate venue such as the Hare and Hounds, however, tonight is all about the founder of Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore. Before he takes to the stage, singer and guitarist Hannah Lou Clark entertains the gathering sell-out crowd with her Sharon Van Ettenesque vocals and simple guitar lines. I only manage to catch the final three tracks of Hannah’s set in which she intermittently uses backing tracks to add more weight to the performance.  She has the essence of a number of vocalists that have risen to prominence of late yet without any of the distinguishing features such as the distinctive raucousness of Angel Olsen or the unique aloof drawl of Courtney Barnett.  The audience are incredibly attentive and clearly enjoying her set, personally, I didn’t feel there was anything different enough for me to warrant purchasing any of her music. Saying that though, listening to her some of her tracks on Youtube post gig which include a whole band do add a different slant to the music which may entice me further.


Slightly ahead of schedule, The Thurston Moore Band take to the stage and, without acknowledging the audience, pick up their instruments and set the tone for the evening by unleashing various sounds and feedback throughout the small venue whilst Steve Shelley keeps a repetitive beat.  After a few minutes of well-orchestrated cacophony, the noise develops into a bass driven riff, constructed by the talented Debbie Googe, which signals the introduction to Forevermore.  Thurston Moore has a particular talent for creating effectively monotonous music that draws you in and takes you on a mesmerising journey.


On occasion, he stands at the front of the stage with his head raised and eyes closed showered in simple blue lighting allowing the photographers to get a decent shot of the experimental musician. Unfortunately the vocals are very low in the mix, something that is rectified after Moore questions whether anyone can hear him, even though the vocals are not very long they are key to the song’s development.  Forevermore ends abruptly with all of the musicians in perfect timing with each other, resulting in a comedy shout from the crowd of “more”.  The harmonic start of Speak To The Wild leads into another clever use of repetitive guitar patterns that subtly alter to provide the listener with a sense of progression.  Throughout the set, Moore and the other guitarist, James Sedwards, swap lead guitar parts allowing each other to explore the use of chord sequences that emulate that of the recording, whilst the rhythm section maintain the core structure of the song before returning back to the opening harmonics.  There is a brief pause before the vocal line also makes a comeback before another concise and tight ending is presented.


It is at this point that Thurston Moore addresses the audience to ask if anyone has a five pence with which to tighten his microphone stand and jokingly notes that he is not The Pope so can’t saint people. He continues conversing with the crowd, first of all by introducing the band followed by claiming that he is never sure whereabouts in Birmingham he is as he always plays different venues around the city.  Moore requests that the lights are brightened so that people can see the musicians’ hands because that is what he wants to see at a gig.


From there he continues playing tracks from his latest album, Best Day, this time with the pacier Germs Burn which has a punkier edge.  The use of distortion is far harsher than in the previous tracks and enhances the more aggressive impact of the song and in line with the title and lyrical content.  All of the songs are of a significant length, which provides the band the space to explore dissonance without creating something that is unlistenable or incomprehensible and also explains why they were apparently physically thrown off stage in Brighton.


Moore has the ability to take simplistic ideas and sensitively produce a truly unorthodox piece of music as demonstrated in the title track of the album, Best Day. As this enchanting set draws to a close after a ten minute encore, the focused audience lavish their applause upon the band and rightly so, as The Thurston Moore Band has delivered an outstanding lesson in alternative guitar-based music.


Review: Toni Woodward

Photographs: Katja Ogrin



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