Ursula, the opening act, sounded not unlike a collaborative supergroup fronted by Rob Dickinson, with members from Ride and Throwing Muses, a bass player filched out of middle era Smashing Pumpkins, oh yeah, and backing vocals by Kristen Hirsch.
They are a nice, easy, slow, overdriven Fender powered, alternative rock band with moments of hysterical wildness.
The only problem they had was one of the drummer’s crash cymbals continually falling off the front of the stage, so after about his third go picking it up he decided enough was enough and shifted it to the other side of his kit.
Outside of that there was nothing to fault them – tight nineties inspired rock!
Mt. Mountain, however, were a different kettle of marine creatures entirely, their setup consisted of a surprising array of instruments, including a flute balanced precariously on the front of a synthesiser – kind of like a who’s who of music equipment.
They seem to be shooting for Mogwai but their aim is somewhat askew and they ended up spending like a blurry Amnesiac era Radiohead.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re not bad… but their reliance on feedback and repetitive riffs alongside lethargic drawn-out lead lines all felt a little too “experimental, because we’re cool” to carry it off.
Their technical glitch consisted of one of their guitar pedals going awry between songs, it sounded like the police had descended (no, not Sting and his mates), sirens blaring, but to be honest it wasn’t all that different from the effects they were using throughout the rest of the set.
On the bright side, the rhythm guitar player looks like a young version of Rivers Cuomo, so at least they have that going for them. Sadly though, they are about twenty years late to a scene which has been done better by many other bands, or perhaps they are just not my cup of tea?
Luckily, the next band were rather more exciting; Swervedriver have been in (then out, then back in) the game a long time.
I first heard them when I was 17, around 28 years ago and have been enchanted by their sound ever since.
Their “return” album – I Wasn’t Born to Lose You hit the world with little fanfare in 2015, it was a massive sound landscape with their original effects driven rock mixed in with the political sniping we know and love.
Then, earlier this year, Future Ruins was thrown at an unsuspecting world – a world whose political climate has gone from bad to worse – and the new album doesn’t pull any punches towards those who have led us into this hellhole we now seem to be living in.
Talking of which…
Mary Winter is the first song from the new album and came on excessively heavy, it seems bass driven was to be the order of the night. Another newbie Drone Lover proved this to be the case with hammering low-end and sparkling guitars as an accompaniment.
Then, without further ado they launched into Never Lose That Feeling which everyone in the room seemed to know and love, and why not, it is one of their most outstanding songs!
Setting Sun slowed things down a bit and even gave them a chance to give the glitter ball a bit of a spin. A quick look round the aging but amiable crowd appeared to confirm that each and every one there was enjoying themselves immensely.
For 99th Dream one of the guitar techs was enlisted and did a brilliant job with a tambourine. A small but important job!
Future Ruins hazed off into happy summers, which is strange for a song about the mess we find ourselves in around the world. Jimmy seemed to be having a lot of fun with a synthesiser/theremin/I have absolutely no idea. For all I know it’s called something like a harmonic transducer!?!
Last Train to Satansville chugged it’s way into your consciousness and had a long, drawn out but powerful interlude where it really did sound like were in a train haunted by bad dreams and serial killers.
The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air in no way faded, it crept up like an angry bear and repeatedly attacked you into submission, then roared at you, leaving a pile of musically chewed up flesh and bones.
Maelström was a surprise, replacing MM Abduction and Autodidact, which they’ve been playing recently, but doing an amazing job of reminding you just what Swervedriver are capable of at the top of their songwriting game, it was a fair swap.
The next two tracks ripped out of the amplifiers like a prize fighter and smacked you round the head until you submitted to the audiophonic battering. For a Day Like Tomorrow and Deep Seat, though wildly differing prospects, seem made to be played together and sung at the top of your voice. Definitely my highlight of the night.
An in-joke seemed to mean that many random tempo changes were scattered throughout Duel, but it survived unscathed and many people seemed amused by the high jinks, myself included.
After leaving the stage briefly, for a swift bout of recuperation, they were hailed back by the crowd’s clapping and cheering and delivered a huge version of Rave Down then, as a crescendo, Son of Mustang Ford finished the night with a bang, a crash, and a high speed pile up.
For many reasons this was a night to remember, but one of the very best things that happened to me was arriving early and actually getting to shake Adam Franklin by the hand and tell him that I love his music.
An awesome experience all round!