nxb3 on tour – Gang of Four at The Brudenell, Leeds

This gig was part of the Recon festival, based in Leeds and Bradford, showcasing innovators and experimenters in music and other art forms. Gang of Four took to the stage at about 21:50 and started with ‘You’ll Never Pay For The Farm’ from their 2011 CD Content. A couple of tracks from their first LP Entertainment followed, the first was an electrifying version of ‘Ether’ with some magnificent Bass playing from Thomas McNeice followed by ‘Not Great Men’. During the pause before the next song new singer Jon Gaolor said how you all doing, alright? and someone behind me shouted out How old are you? which was probably a fair question as he didn’t look much older than his mid twenties. He had plenty of energy though constantly on the move from one microphone to another, diving across the stage to the nearest other mic when he knocked the current one out of position. He kept Al, the guitar tech constantly on his feet sorting the mic stands out, plugging leads back in and untangling cables as both Jon and Thomas bounded round the stage. ‘I Parade Myself’ from 100 Flowers Bloom was followed by Paralysed from Solid Gold and as the intro to ‘Anthrax started some idiot next to me started screaming fairly constantly for most of the track. Andy changed guitars before the start and threw it on the stage and generally abused it half way through the song. A couple of new songs from Content were next, Al put an extra mic onstage which produced the electronically distorted vocals for ‘It Was Never Going To Turn Out Too Good’ which was followed by ‘Do As I Say’ which I liked the best of the newer songs. It was back to Entertainment with their trademark choppy guitar for ‘Damaged Goods’ followed by ‘I Love A Man In Uniform’ and ‘We Live As We Dream, Alone’ from Songs of the free which was followed by ‘To Hell With Poverty!’ and the set closed with another song from Entertainment, ‘Return The Gift’.
They left the stage for about five minutes and Al brought in a (new) microwave still partially wrapped in plastic and put it on a box just to the side of the drum kit. When the band came back on stage Jon had a 2 foot long wooden stick and he started marking time, bashing the top of the microwave as the first encore, He’d Send In The Army’ started. The band had been a little subdued most of the main set but Thomas was jumping around the stage like there was no tomorrow now getting stage lights caught up in the bass lead and dragging them around behind him. He sent Jon’s mic flying and Al was kept busy for a few minutes sorting it all out. By the time Army was finished the microwave door was hanging off and the top was completely caved in, A couple more from Solid Gold, ‘What We All Want’ and ‘Why Theory?’ and then it was the end of the gig with ‘At Home He’s A Tourist.
I really enjoyed this gig, a good selection of old and new stuff and some great bass playing from Thomas. Andy’s guitar was low in the mix at the start of the gig and people were shouting at him to turn it up. Jon was Ok with the vocals and was running round from one mic to another for the whole 80 minutes but the fact remains that a large chunk of the crowd were not happy that Jon King was not fronting the band even though as an MD of an advertising company nowadays he just does not have the time to commit to the band any more. Quite a few people left before the end, some as early as 20 minutes into the set and there were a few negative posts to the bands facebook page after the gig.

Gig Preview in the Yorkshire Evening Post:

Audience recording of the gig:

Gang of Four Facebook page:

Gang of Four Website:

nxb3 on tour – Gee Vaucher and Penny Rimbaud at The Brudenell, Leeds

This gig was part of Re Con festival in West Yorkshire which was to bring pioneers in music, art and film together, both international and underground artists who were doing work in blurring the boundaries between music, art and film.

I was here because of work they both did 30 years ago, with their involvement in the anarchist punk band Crass. Gee was responsible for the graphic and hard hitting artwork featured on the bands record releases and the movies that were played on the banks of TV screens at their gigs while Penny was the drummer in the band. I was a big fan of the band at the time and saw them play live a few times in the early 80’s before they split up in 1984.

The night kicked off with an introduction by Andy Abbot, one of the organisers of the Re Con festival and then a film by Gee Vaucher titled ‘Angel’ The film had no action as such, it was a ‘study in stillness’ which consisted of a young girl staring back at the camera for 49 minutes. The girl was¬†Gee’s great niece, Angel filmed during the transition of moving from junior to secondary school. Angel has an older sister who changed a great deal when she changed schools so Gee wanted the film to capture her before she moved to secondary school and she became street wise and changed forever. Angel was filmed continuously for an hour, her subtle reactions to her sister talking off camera were captured and then a 15 minute section of the film was selected and slowed to about ¬ľ speed before the sound track was added. The film showed the subtle changes in her facial expression, her smiling to clips of bird song, reacting to passing trains and her posture slowly sagging as the film progressed, presumably as she was getting more and more bored with the filming.

Afterwards Gee discussed the film in a Q & A session with the audience, her motivation for doing the film, the process of making the film and audience reaction to the film.

After a 15 minute break Andy Abbott introduced Penny Rimbaud who started talking about the new (second) autobiography he had started writing which he had given the working title ‘A brick wall made of air’. He started reading from the first page with numerous interjections when he disagreed with himself… He then went off on a tangent for a while about a guy on the bus to Kings Cross station that morning who was cutting his finger nails and his dilemma about whether or not he should confront him over it. This developed into a parallel discussion where he compared this to his philosophical writings and his activism for a while until he got bored and then asked for questions from the audience. A wide range of comments and questions from the audience were discussed, dealing with his self identity, whether the media had robbed him of his sense of self during his time in Crass, his philosophical writings, his privileged position (he didn’t like that one!),¬†the legacy of his time in Crass where he motivated people to change their lives¬†and the realisation of his own mortality with reference to his recent serious illness.

He finished off with a discussion of the mass incarcerations of over 2 million people in America and how it related to some work he was doing with a dance outfit from Italy. He played one of the current tracks they have been working on and we can expect to hear some more results of the collaboration when they make an album together next year. By this time it was last orders and the organised event wound down.

Not really what I was expecting but still very interesting and it’s good that he is still involved in making music with both the Italian dance band and the Jazz outfit Penny Rimbauds Last Amendment.