Monday, November 24, 2014

Smegma, Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock, Snotnosed, Skaters, Vibracathedral Orchestra, Matthew Bower [and probably a few others]. Termite Club. Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 25th April 2006

[even more from the archives]

Hardly has my liver had a decent rest than its back to Leeds to see what state the Undermeister’s shirt is in. The beard is longer, the eyes are redder but the shirt’s still in the same state it was in Glasgow four days earlier. Its good to know you can rely on some things in life. At least he’s smiling, as is main Termite man Mike Dando, the venue is full.

A week earlier I’d seen him taking money at the door of a KK Null/Zev gig at the Brudenell and I almost felt like giving him the Samaritans number. Punters were thin on the ground. The bar and gate ticks on the paying in sheet wouldn’t cover the taxi fare home. It was a depressing sight. But what a difference a few weeks make.  The punters of Leeds have come out in force to sit in a smoky cellar bar and see Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock for the first time in ten years and Smegma for the first time in ever. They’ve also come to watch a football match in the upstairs bar which seems to freak out some of the Americans in the party and isn’t that a Mosque over there? Some things take a little explaining. But at least the drone supergroup amalgam that’s filling the tiny stage don’t need any explaining. The bobbing heads and bow driven electric guitars compete with the tribal drums and effect boxes and its kind of messy and hairy and all over the shop but at least they enjoyed themselves and didn’t carry on for two hours which, if reports are to believed, is the length of time they managed to keep it up for in a private residence the previous evening.

Snotnosed are the light entertainment of the evening. Speeding off his tits the big bald fella’s Hanatarash tribute band begins by destroying a galvanized steel bin using a sledgehammer, then a machete and then his bare hands. He breaks records over his head, dons a Peter Sutcliffe mask [au natural] and throws himself onto the floor screaming and waling and thrashing about like a kid with a Ritalin deficiency. His accomplice sits behind some kind of gadget chain smoking roll ups and looking on like he’s seen it all before. The debris he’s managed to scatter is impressive as are the beads of sweat running all over his cue ball noggin. Performance and exercise. Nice touch. This turns out to be the final Snotnosed gig ever.

Runzelstirn & Gurgelstock bemuse, delight and outrage the Leeds audience with the same show as in Edinburgh. One punter is so freaked by having Joke’s pig mask shoved in his face that he actually pushes him away. He comes and stares at me but I’ve been drinking in Batley and am not scared.

For one number Smegma will play with Herb Diamante. Herb, who I have to admit has passed me by, turns out to be the alter ego of John Godbert an artist and artiste from Stan Laurel country. And after an opening spell in which Smegma really rock the boards with a killer ten minutes noise set, Herb joins in singing in a really fine deep voice. His green suit and red wig mis-match imperfectly his wing backed shades. He fits in well with the Smegma team. I don’t recognize the song but it’s a good one for Herb’s voice and after it’s finished everybody is slapping each other on the back and shaking hands. The audience are whooping and applauding like they’ve not been let out for six months. Breaking their set up into three separate parts Smegma roll about everywhere from loose fifties rock to avant garde bells and tinkles. When voices appear from the crackles on old records everyone backs off to listen intently. Guitars are played with circuit boards, toy keyboards are plugged in, rubber bands are stretched across mouths, trombones, clockwork toys, I’ve never seen a band go through as many instruments. Theremin like structures emit strange bubbles and then we’re off again with a Cramps like stomp.

That Smegma seem genuinely happy to be on these shores only adds to the fun element of the night. Everybody seems to be having a great time; audience, bands and even Steve Underwood who’s sold many a ticket and sold lots of merchandise. The sooner Smegma and R&G return the better.

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