Friday, August 26, 2016

The New Blockaders - Live At The Rammel Club/The Dome

The New Blockaders - Live At The Rammel Club/The Dome
VLZ Produkt. VLZ00043 - CD
300 copies.

Two TNB gigs as recorded in 2012 one of which I attended and got a chair chucked at my head and the other I missed by a day seeing as how, by sheer coincidence, I happened to be in London on the weekend of the Harbinger Sound Broken Flag weekend at The Dome, Tuffnell Park, London.

The Dome gig in question and the Broken Flag weekender that it was a part of, is one not fondly remembered by some I spoke to with tales of egotistical preening and wildly varying performances to the fore. I was there on the Saturday, the middle night of the three with some of those early attendees already fading and fearing the worst. Tales of testing noise sets with not much in the way of respite were common. The venue, a former dance hall, had no seating so you stood and took your punishment like a man. Literally, for as ever these events were male dominated. On the Saturday I witnessed a theatrical Club Moral set, a rare performance by Sigillum S and a less said the better abysmal rock set from Ramleh. I came, I saw, I got the last tube back to Covent Garden and was glad to be on the train home in the morning. When news filtered through that Sunday nights TNB headlining set wasn’t much more than a bout of drunken tomfuckery I felt that I’d missed little and had held my sciatica at bay as a bonus.

Was it all drunken tomfuckery though or is that just the residual memory of those who bravely batted it out for the full three nights only to have The New Blockaders staring them in the face come late Sunday? Having bravely faced numerous three night noise fests its usually left to the loudest and most extreme act to kill off any remaining enthusiasm a three night crowd has left in it. So I treat such tales with caution and wait for the cold light of day to appear before passing judgment myself.

Thus with the benefit of Youtube footage and the audio here I can only see The New Blockaders doing what they do; creating havoc and out of that havoc the most beautifully formed chaos. Out of such cacophony come moments that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

In 2012 they were messy and all the better for it. The Rammel Club set runs to twenty minutes, The Dome set a longer thirty minutes worth. Both begin quietly with the yelp of excited audience members greeting random loud blurts before being drowned out by hammers bashing stubborn metal and saws painfully coming in to contact with extraction fan casings [I’m guessing]. When this kind of provocative, highly visual style of performance takes place but not six feet in front of you by three balaclava-ed unknowns in jackets, shirts and ties the atmosphere soon turns excitable. Which is where the chair comes in. But no damage done. TNB performances aren’t known for their violence but it appears that some members [for once credited on the inner sleeve] just can’t help themselves. It all adds to the allure.

As for The Dome set I can only assume that the high stage and huge floor space must have played its part. Listened to [and watched] in the cold light of day you can understand where people were coming from; the entire thirty minutes worth is a ramshackle mess with TNB personnel wandering around the stage, picking things up, hitting them, twisting knobs on noise boxes and at one stage picking up a magazine to flick through. A huge and ancient Tannoy cone has detritus dumped in it and is driven repeatedly into the stage floor, things are kicked over, people shout, the volume peaks, dies and squeals painfully back in to life, the cone is abused endlessly until its dumped, either out of boredom or frustration its purpose having been served. During a lull in proceedings someone shouts ‘Take yer bins out’ and you realise the same person must have been at both gigs. A true fan.

These recordings never reach the maximalist highs of Live at Anti-Fest or Live at Hinoeuma [and maybe others of such nature that I’m not familiar with ] but they do show The New Blockaders coming full circle and creating sounds that have more in common with their earlier outings. A pity we don’t see much of them live anymore. Saves me getting my head bashed in I suppose.


Anonymous said...

Like some version of the four Tops no doubt on tour as we speak, The New Blockaders is a band in name only, with the Rupenus brothers having long since opted to stay at home and let others smash about for half an hour. Admirable in a way, and having seen the Rammel gig the stand ins make a good fist of it, but whereas when the Blockaders first started it was all wild and unpredictable, now you kind of know exactly what you will get, and though the noise can still jangle the insides it is all a bit safe..?

Anonymous said...

Rupenus was involved with all the TNB (anti-)performances I attended although I can't say for sure if he appeared on stage. Even if he didn't it's still TNB as he specifies (as much as can be) what the participants are to do and he always contributes audio. It's a similar situation with GX Jupitter-Larsen / The Haters, I believe GX isn't always involved but its still The Haters.

Anonymous said...

Re.: ' you kind of know exactly what you will get.' Can't the same be said for most artists? I mean, I can't imagine, for example, AMM doing a Dub Reggae album or NWW a Hip-Hop album. Having said that, apparently Steve Stapleton is a big Hip-Hop fan.

Anonymous said...

Thought a couple of people might rally to the cause and we're not at cross purposes really in that I enjoyed the Blockaders Rammel gig, same one that was an early outing for the Sleaford a la Mods and Storm Bugs. All three were in a way re-enactments. The Blockaders of some gig they did back in the 80s or 90s. The Mods of some bastard offsprings of Cooper-Clarke, and as for the Bugs, well not sure they ever played live but they made it look like it was a sort of greatest hiss set. All good fun but cutting edge no, and Rupenus directing from afar is so not in the spirit of what the Blockaders were all about originally - would serve him right if the subs went on stage and started discoing.