It is quite hard to describe the psychology of going to a gig of a band that one loves, especially when this gig is about the presentation of the band’s latest album. I consider ‘Songs For The Broken Ones to be the best album of The Eden House to date and it has been too long since the last time I saw Monica Richards (who is playing a major role in this album) perform, so this gig had all the ingredients to be a perfect one. Apart from The Eden House whose show was both mesmerizing and beautiful, this was an evening with many surprises, but let me take things from the beginning.

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I had no intention of writing a review about this gig as I was not sure whether I would be there, so I arrived at Birthdays relaxed and without my camera…what a big mistake that was!

KALEIDA had impressed us with the release of their debut album Tear The Roots in September so, the humid and heavy atmosphere of that night, did not stop people from completely filling the basement venue in order to see them live. 20 minutes to 10, the lights were turned off and a caped figure holding a bouquet of white dahlia flowers, appeared amidst the crowd. Christina Wood, the caped barefoot figure, then took her place on stage and started placing some of the dahlias on the edge of the stage before giving three of them to people at the front row. This entrance, had already won everyone over, even before the first song was finished. Christina was dressed in white, while Cicely (Goulder) and Zosia Jagodzinska (cello and drums), were dressed in black suits.

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For some, this was the gig of the year, for others the perfect gig to kickstart the new season after summer. In any case, it was a gig that many people, 600 of them (that is the full capacity of the venue), were anxiously waiting for, since the day it was first announced, several months ago. The gig sold out almost a week before the live date, so two days before, many fans were still looking for a precious ticket. I don’t remember having seen The Garage at full capacity before(it actually seemed as if it might have exceeded that slightly) and at some point, the atmosphere became pretty heavy.

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IRFAN is a band from Bulgaria that does not play live very often but their music and especially the atmosphere they create while on stage, is unique. Audiences had the opportunity and pleasure, to see IRFAN perform at the Schauspielhaus in Leipzig during WGT in 2012.Since then, the band has released their latest album entitled ‘The Eternal Return’ which was closer in terms of style and musical references to the debut album entitled ‘Irfan’ and quite different from ‘Seraphim’. The influences in the sound of IRFAN are many and craftily combined to create a unique sound that has elements from eastern liturgical chant (more prominent in the debut album), eastern folk music and neoclassical/ethereal music.
It is not often that I am impatient about a gig, but this was one of those times. IRFAN is a band whose music style does has an audience in this country but this audience is very rarely given the opportunity to watch such a band play live. Taking this aside, the fact that a band like IRFAN would play live at the notorious (for jazz gigs in the late 40s and for punk gigs during the 70s) 100Club, would inspire someone to write a surreal poem…or that’s what I think. And yet, all these unlikely events happened on a magical September’s night.

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It was during the ‘quietest’ part of this summer that the ‘loudest’ event happened at an old tavern in Greenwich, The Trafalgar Tavern: John Lee Bird’s exhibition ‘One small step at a time‘ accompanied by live music from MADAM. The Trafalgar Tavern opened in 1837 and served as a home for seamen during WWI and as a working men’s club between the wars. The gig by MADAM, was the second part of what seems to be an ongoing collaboration between John Lee Bird and other artists having as a starting point his exhibition of 365 portraits (one for each day of the year), entitled ‘One small step at a time. But let’s take things from the beginning.

John Lee Bird is an artist that creates powerful images. He is mostly famous for his portraits of unique characters, artists, musicians, performers and friends. The power of his paintings is revealed in every stroke and every swirl of the lines that complete each picture. The images are depicting something specific but unlike ‘traditional’ portraiture John seems to ‘intervene’ in the representation and add more texture and dramatic emotions…Take a look at his work here: http://www.johnleebird.com/exhibitions

The exhibition entitled ‘One small step at a time’ was first presented in Mexico city earlier this year and was accompanied by live music, courtesy of Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu who created powerful soundscapes as a response to John’s work. For the second part of this exhibition in London MADAM offered a unique and emotionally sharp interpretation of John Lee Bird’s work through music and a theatrically interpreted text.Verses that ‘cut’ like blades and abundant symbolism enveloped and definitely inspired the audience of this 3-part improvisation at the Trafalgar Tavern earlier this summer.

Blauerosen was delighted to talk to Sukie Smith, the vocalist and one of the five musicians of MADAM about this gig and present the videos from this unique performance. 

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Was he an animal that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for were coming to light (Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis)

It becomes apparent after every gig that it is best not to expect anything in particular from a performance. That way the emotions can get to you with more strength and a certain element of surprise.

Following a brief delay in opening the doors, Autumns a.k.a Christian Donaghey, appeared on stage. With two released albums so far, Terrible Tuesday (Downwards) and Das Nichts (Clandestine records), the music of Autumns follows noisy, experimental, coldwave paths.

The show had no visuals and the sound did not have enough depth to become enveloping and replicate the darkness that we can listen to on the albums. The distorted sounds were quite thin and the music was not as evocative as it should have been.

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A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile, the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral… (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince)

In music as in life, the devil ‘hides’ in the details. In other words, no one can guarantee that a piece of music will be perceived as something more than just the sum of its parts, therefore each time a debut album such as Overture’s ‘Screaming Silence’ breaks through the multitude of releases that see the light of day, by offering music of sonic and emotional richness, we can’t resist supporting it !

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There are few gigs within each year that get my heart racing and this one was one of them from the moment I learned about it in January. I had been expecting a London date for And Also The Trees since last year when I attended both their concerts in Leipzig’s WGT, so I was thrilled to find out that this wish of mine would be fulfilled in 2017. I was also extremely excited to see In The Nursery live again as it had now been, more than 10 years since the last time I saw them in Athens’ Elfentanz festival and anxious to see Cult With No Name for the first time.

First of all the organization of this gig was very good, stage times were respected, the music we listened to between the bands’ sets was very fitting and everything else around this gig was great. These are not obvious things and they are very important.

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This was not a typical gig, it was not even a gig but a real-life experience inside a surreal dimension! The evening had a giant baby, a pink ‘dog’, a (bare assed) bin-man, a terrifying ‘cleaner’, fierceness, darkness, heaviness in sound and many equally important and ‘freaky’ guests. It was none of these elements that was responsible for the atmosphere of the evening on its own, but their interactions and combined effect. But let’s take things from the beginning…

“We’re so fucking loud that anyone who comes to our shows is just subjected to such a level of loudness and occult ideas…that it forces capitalism out of this magic space…” (Taman Shud extract from an interview)

Taman Shud, opened the evening on time and offered a show that was almost shamanic in its atmosphere. The band revealed a unique combination of original elements in the arrangement as well as in the delivery of the vocals. It was neither the passion of each of the four musicians nor their complete immersion in the music that captured my attention. One of the reasons I was so captivated by Taman Shud, was the fact that the lead vocals were coming from the very back of the stage, courtesy of the skilled drummer Nick, while Greg (guitar) at the front of the stage was providing backing vocals! I don’t think I have ever witnessed such an arrangement before and its actual effect could only be fully appreciated after moving to a short distance from the stage so that the sound could completely envelop me and fill the space.

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r-8381428-1460646507-1375-jpegIt’s been a while since I last saw PJ Harvey perform live and a lot has changed since that day at a Rockwave Festival in Athens of Greece. Both her music and her stage appearance seem to have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Her albums are now big productions with more musicians in her band than ever before and her live concerts have become much more theatrical. Compared to the past, PJ Harvey has changed the nature of her movements and the way she responds to her songs 1and this has added more layers to the lyrics. I couldn’t help but notice that her gigs lately give out the impression that one listens to a whole orchestra especially because all the musicians are multi-instrumentalists. Come to think of it, the whole world has changed since the early 2000 and PJ Harvey has proven that she has very strong social reflexes and always finds clever ways of incorporating social critique in her work (i.e. lyrics, videos).

A few days before the gig I received an email from the venue, informing me that there will be no support band(s) for this gig, yet when I arrived at O2 Brixton Academy, I realized that there was also no dedicated DJ for the evening. Doors had opened on time, at 19.00 that was, but until 21.00 when PJ Harvey appeared on stage, everyone was waiting in complete silence…I am sure something better could have been done there.

The time was now 20.40 and the crowd that had completely filled the venue, had started to become impatient (especially because the announced stage time was 20.30) so there was a little bit of shouting, persistent clapping and a shared feeling of excitement. I was kind of worried because PJ Harvey, in my experience at least, has been famous for being punctual and it was now 20.55 and there was no sign of her. By the time I had finished that thought, the lights turned off completely and the deep sound of drums presaged the procession of the band on stage.

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