Venue: The Labour Club (Website)
Event: Masters of Budvar present
Location: 95-97 Charles St Northampton England NN1 3BG
The Telescopes Modern psychedelics from the erstwhile Creation band, now working as a duo with guitars, electronics and lush, spacey melodies.
Wilby Classic songwriting from Rosie Wilby and her band. Shades of Chrissie Hynde and kd lang.
Elk Force A harrowing glimpse into the wonderful and frightening world of Scott Millar. Far out and deeply fishy. Well, elky, really.
All taking place for free at Northampton Labour Club on Friday 1st July 2005. Wa-hey!
📝 Pat Says
At about 9:15 three young men take to the corner of the room which, with an arch and knowing wink, we call "the stage". These men, for a whom a small and painfully hip crowd has gathered, are none other than Elk Force. Now, I believe that in my advertising spiel I might possibly have caused some inadvertent distress to Elk Force's hip-hop kingpin Scott by implying that The Force might in some way prove difficult or...I think the word was "harrowing". As he himself put it:
" We honestly didn't know we were traumatic, terrifying and troublesome. We always thought we were more of a mildly left wing pop outfit for the mtv generation. (that was the idea anyway). Just for the record, we in no way support chairman mao - He was a very bad man whose presence still seems to loom large and overshadow China - It's time China faced up to this and moved on."But of course.
To be fair, the Hinterhoff label's latest hopefuls had, since recording their inital manifesto, focussed their - shall we say? - sonic maelstrom with the clever addition of drummer Ben Jackson, last seen round these parts with Saab 77. With Ben driving things along with force and precision, it was easier to follow the intricate and ever-so-slightly mental patterns that Scott and Richard weave with their guitars. Great lyrics well delivered. It's a shame that tune about the Jesus Centre doesn't go on a bit longer. Remix, anybody?
This was the first appearance of Elk Force and they played really well. By the end of the night it was hard to find a punter not proudly sporting their Elk Force button badge. I have no idea as to whether these people are going to do more of this, and I've no idea how to describe what they do. I still think they're mental, but I can see how they might not appear that way to people who listen to modern post-rock type stuff. Somewhere to the left of Pavement, perhaps. (I know nothing about that kind of music. Shows, doesn't it?)
Swiftly following The Force came Rosie Wilby accompanied by Kontra Band's Al Tate on bass and Paul de Gallier on percussion. A much more melodic proposition, the trio made the most of the club sound system with a warm, deep sound that made a perfect setting for Rosie's singing. Still reeling from Glastonbury, Rosie even took on the swelling crowd of hepsters on her own, singing the most delicate ballad imaginable. There is an awful lot of songwriting savvy at work here, choruses that just fall right out at you, like that one on You Amaze Me, which gets stuck in my damn head all the time. And check out Guitar Rosie - she knows all the chords. A warm, assured showing; just the thing for just that moment, really.
When the Telescopes arrived for a soundcheck I was surprised to see that they showed no interest in any of the microphones set up around the stage and that they didn't really seem to have anything that they wanted to plug into the PA. All these charming types from Burton On Trent really seemed to want was tables. As many tables as you've got, really, thanks. Brilliant. On these tables Steven and Lorin set up guitars and various devices which they employ to coax sounds from these guitars. They effectively operate on the instruments, like surgeons. Instead of scalpels they employ ball-bearings, violin bows, portable electric fans, crocodile clips and a seven inch tall metal robot. All of which goes off into a bewildering array of outboard hardware for treatment before barreling on out the amplifiers at you, the punter. Jo, meanwhile, sits on her amp, big old 335 in her lap, rapt in concentration.
By the time the Telescopes were taking to the stage it had crossed my mid that I might as well try to use the three microphones to some effect, so in a homage to the Telescopes' erstwhile producer Rich Formby, I pottered around "sort of" setting up the mics to pick up amps and ambience and broadcast same through the PA. To be honest, I wish I'd done it all a bit louder.
The Telescopes start their set with a lush drone, centred around the soporific beat of a needle spinning on an empty record deck. The drone builds, changes texture, swells, recedes. The surgeons are hard at work on their instruments, heads down. Jo's head is down too. When once she glances up into the crowd it is with a look of icy determination that could stop a speeding truck. People are staring open-mouthed. No beat comes crashing in, no vocal emerges; only the most abstract wisps of melody, conjured from the very effect of the different constituent elements of the drone moving cyclically/seismically together and apart. Some people, it has to be said, are becoming impatient. Most are very quiet. I'm bloody riveted, me.
After who-knows-how-long the initial drone starts to fade and an electronic ghost of a beat begins to pulse beneath the soundscapes. They're into Phase Two of their set and things are getting a touch polarised. There are people actually leaving. Well, it's Friday night and maybe this isn't what they'd bargained for and that's fair enough. Meanwhile back on Planet X, the Telescopes continue to sculpt and shape their noise to great effect. When finally, after about 45 minutes of utterly beautiful music, they achieve a graceful landing, those who have taken the ride along with them give genuinely warm and appreciative applause. With good reason. This is not the sort of thing that you see every day. In fact, the last time I can recall being at a gig like this was the Spacemen's evening of contemporary sitar music at the Watermans Art Centre in Brentford. Frankly and fortunately, the atmosphere tonight doesn't come close to the chilly miasma of misunderstanding, suspicion and thinly-veiled hostility that characterised the event that launched the Dreamweapon. No, China has moved on, so instead it's trebles all round and back to Masters of Budvar Secret Headquarters for afters. Thanks to the Labour Club, Andy, all the musicians and everybody who came out.
Hello Mr. Butcher
I have heard tell that we (Misterlee) are playing on a bill upon which you are also playing as a member of Wilson - in Lincoln, next to Wilkinsons?
Fun in the sun, then all the paint stripper you can carry!
I was hoping to find out a little more about these shows at The Labour Club... We're looking to play in Northampton again and it looks like an interesting night there.
Might you have a couple of minutes to drop me a line with some info?
Many thanks - see you next month,
I loved it. Most of the bands were really good. I loved it. It was good. Most of the bands were rea...oh, i've already said that. I loved it. Keep up the good work. It was good. Good work.