Wharf Chambers, Leeds, 12th October 2012.
I was wondering whether my appetite for Power Electronics and Noise was waning. I pondered the thought as I drove in to Leeds where for three hours or more my hearing would receive a decent shellacking [and I have an auditory test at work next week which should prove interesting].
As I type this my ears are still whistling quite loudly. My hearing is already damaged and I suppose a little more abuse wont do it much harm. To add insult to growing old misery I’m already going blind and need readers as thick as washer doors so the hearing aid will become just another appendage to my dotage.
It was indeed very loud. The PA set up at Wharf Chambers accommodates the kind of bands that like to wander into the noisier end of the spectrum, its something that venues of a less dedicated nature shy away from thus depriving the noise artist of his main weapon of attack. As I arrive I’m told that I’ve just missed a very good Digitariat set which upsets me a little. I feel I have an affinity with Paul Knowles live work having witnessed his very first gig many years ago [under the Dachise guise and coincidently supporting CON-DOM]. His anti capitalist rants go down well here at Idwal Towers so I don’t get to hear him yell ‘You work in a neon Victorian workhouse’ over a coruscating swirl of noise. Maybe next time.
The first full set I witness is Cementimental whose circuit bending shenanigans are brittle and painful. Smashing a gadget held together with tie wraps in to the corner of the table this is full on noise in true mid 90’s Jap style. In your face for the most part with little in the way of respite. I have to escape at its conclusion for some fresh air and pose the Toddmeister the age old question of whether one night of full on noise is too much for those past 25 years of age. Already feeling noise weary I sit out the next act [Cremation Lily] which I’m again told was excellent in a ‘that man was amazing he was contorting his body into shapes that a body should’t go’ kind of way. It was certainly loud even with a solid brick wall as buffer.
Things go quiet for a while as it emerges that Content Nullity hasn’t arrived. After an eight hour drive he does appear and has to soundcheck before smearing himself with what could be soot and delivering a terrific set of classic PE. Resplendent in CON-Dom t-shirt and braces he adopts classic PE stances whilst delivering screaming volleys of anguish aided by stabs of analogue synth and the odd knob. Its an accomplished performance in which he throws himself into whole heartedly. Considering the circumstances its an incredible performance.
As ever, seeing CON-DOM on the bill is in itself a reason to be still alive. Its with no sense of hyperbole at all that I tell you that I think Mike Dando is not just one of the best PE acts ever but one of the best live performers ever, in any genre of popular music you care to mention. Dando’s presence on the stage is one of genuine disquiet. The sight of the the bald headed Dando raging into a microphone, face buried into the audience is one that never leaves you. These are genuinely confrontational performances. A room wheeling with the distinct incessant squeal and chatter of primitively culled noises pound at your hearing whilst just inches away a man stripped to the waist shoves his head into yours and screams and rants and raves. Behind him crude images of evangelic preachers mingle with the sights of everyday folk going about their business. He imitates one scene by taking off his boots and inserting stones, no doubt mocking Job and his Biblical suffering [but I’ll leave that interpretation open to you]. He eventually ends up on the floor still screaming, writhing and pushing the stones into his bony frame, the audience gawp, bent, rapt trying to catch every move.
MK9 rounds off an excellent evening with a chilling Orwellian set that juxtaposes humdrum imagery with that of total horror, despair and revulsion. A backdrop of films shows a man digging a hole, then a town in America ripped apart and blazing from a cracked gas pipe, then some rain on a porch, then a car park with distant passing traffic until finally you get the painful images of American warplane cameras capturing in their crosshairs the last moments of human beings before being blown to smithereens. Using the two-way radio traffic of the gas explosion as soundsource MK9 rages into the microphone about the failure of the gas company, titles appear like Corporate Greed Equals Death a splitscreen shows us unmanned drones seeking their targets in Pakistan whilst being maneuvered games console style by gum chewing females in Nevada. There’s no ear pounding as such just plenty of food for thought.
My ears are still whistling. I dare say they will be for a while but it was worth it.