Delaware Road line up roll call

Delware Rd final poster Delaware final backThe line up for this summer’s Delaware Road event at a secret army base in Wiltshire is finally confirmed and Buried Treasure – the label run by Alan Gubby who set up the gig – is dripping out performer names and info over the next few weeks. I’ll add them as they appear – Collect the set! This will not be like any other festival you attend this year. A new dedicated website explains all and there is a bus service you can book to get you to the venue.
Tickets are available here

DR Concretism50892393_2543135199049647_2741597149681680384_n
DR DJ FoodDR Kemper Norton
DR - Alison CottonDR Sarah AnglissDR - Penny Rimbaud

Kraftwerk – Klassics, Kovers & Kurios premiere this Saturday

One of the reasons it’s been so quiet on here this year is because I’ve had my head in the video editing suite for this Saturday’s premiere of my new AV show; Kraftwerk: Klassics, Kovers & Kurios. I’ll be taking this up to Manchester for its initial outing, at The Deaf Institute, who have previously hosted my other AV sets (why should London have all the good stuff first?). Tickets are available here

The show (at the moment) is very dance-orientated with the obvious techno, electro styles accompanied by hip hop, samba, breaks, mash ups and maybe a bit of juke if I can make it fit. Above is a tiny excerpt from one track where I got a bit carried away. The show takes the band’s various eras, looks and line ups and combines them into a 60 track, 90 min+ collage of Teutonic Techno, European Electro & Kraut Crunk together with the visual history of the group. I’ve really dug around for old archive for this one, which is hard on the older material as there is so little and in bad quality but I’ve been collecting this stuff since the early ’00s so have a fair bit. Below are some screen grabs of an Italian performance of Pocket Calculator where the cameraman really wanted to know what they were playing.

PocketCalcInstruments

Bluedot festival

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Very happy to announce that I’ll be playing my Boards of Canada-centric Audio Visual show, ‘O Is For Orange’ at the Bluedot festival this year, on Sunday 21st of July. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, just hope I’m not on at the same time as Kraftwerk! See these links for more details
Website – https://www.discoverthebluedot.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bluedotfestival
Twitter – @bluedotfestival
Instagram – @bluedotfestival
Hashtag – #discoverthebluedot

2018 – a vintage year for new music

It’s the end of the year and reading down the list of sounds that have moved me most in 2018 I’m struck by how much new music there is after years of digging a lot of reissues over current styles. This may well be because the well is finally running dry on a lot of the stuff I’m interested in but more likely that the old adage of great music being made in times of great strife is coming home to roost again. There is no order to the lists below, no No.1 or ‘best’ of anything although they are mostly chronological as I write stuff down as I hear or see it.

Special mentions though for the Castles In Space label that continues to go from strength to strength, the Confidence Man album which got a lot of play despite me missing them live twice. Trevor Jackson‘s beautiful design for his ‘System’ CD and cassette, so good I bought it three times, The Advisory Circle‘s ‘Ways Of Seeing’ LP and the Tomorrow Syndicate‘s excellent ‘Future Tense’ album, complete with Nick Taylor artwork.

Supporting both The The (on several UK dates) and the Art Of Noise was the stuff of teenage dreams and the former’s biography by Neil Fraser is a fascinating read. The Karminsky Experience Inc.’s ‘See Inside’ VR single was a genuinely eye-opening experience and having them and Markey Funk down at Further was a treat. Walking into the House of Illustration‘s John Vernon Lord exhibition to be unexpectedly confronted with the original drawing of his 1966 masterpiece, ‘Beneath The Tree’, was the art high of the year and the People’s Vote march in October restored my faith in humanity for an afternoon. Electronic Sound magazine continues to excel and their first LP release, Jack Dangers‘ remix of Terry Riley‘s ‘In C’, was another disc that saw a lot of play this year.

On Dec 23rd I played a lot of my favourite releases of 2018 on WNBC‘s Out Of The Wood show which you can hear below, complete with mic. fluffs and wrong track listings.

As we go into 2019 I’m dreading the first three months, leading up to the Br*x*t deadline, hoping against hope for a last minute chance to reconsider but bracing for a fallout post 29/03/19 that could see chaos come to the UK. I hope that I’m writing a more positive missive this time next year, if not then at least the music will only get better and better…

Music 2Music / chat:
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside 7″ (Patterns of Behaviour)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gumboot Soup LP (Flightless)
Beautify Junkyards – The Invisible Worlds of LP (Ghost Box)
Basil Kirchin – I Start Counting LP (Trunk)
Bigmouth podcast (Audioboom)
The Turbans – Baba Ganooz 7″ (Mona Tone/Delights)
Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade LP (Duophonic)
The Advisory Circle – Ways Of Seeing LP (Ghost Box)
Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel (single) (Wondaland)
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People LP (Heavenly)
Concretism – For Concrete & Country LP (Castles In Space)
Trevor Jackson – System CD (Pre_)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Future Tense LP (Polytechnic Youth)
Chaka Khan – Like Sugar (single) (Dairy)
Jonny Trunk – OST show (Resonance FM)
Regal Worm – Pig Views / Use And Ornament (Uranium Club)
Meat Beat Manifesto vs Terry Riley – In C (Electronic Sound)
Patrick R. Park – Library Sounds LP (Castles In Space)
David Shire – The Conversation LP (Trunk)
Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships LP (Pekula)
Adam Buxton podcast
Type 303 – The New Ravelution EP (Insult To Injury)
Luke Vibert – 165 303 – from the Gradients vol.2 LP (Astrophonica)
Luke Vibert presents Garave vol.1 LP (Hypercolour)
Kosmischer Laufer – Vol.4 LP (UCR)

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Packaging / design:
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside VR glasses (Patterns of Behaviour)
Chop – CDL 10″ (Drumetrics)
Concretism – For Concrete & Country LP (2nd edition) (Castles In Space)
Trevor Jackson – System 1st & 2nd edition CD + Cassette (Pre_)
Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour Cassette & comic (Tapebox)
Tomorrow Syndicate – Future Tense Regular + Ltd Ed. LP (Polytechnic Youth)
Spider Jazz – splatter vinyl edition LP (Trunk)
Spun Out Of Control vinyl + cassettes
Aver – River of Ice Cream 7″ promo flexi disc
Listening Centre 5″ lathe cut picture disc (Polytechnic Youth)

Packaging design

Books/Comics:
VS – Ivan Brandon / Eric Ribic (Image)
A Year In The Country ‘Wandering Through Spectral Fields’ – Stephen Prince
The Adventures of Jodelle – Guy Peellhaert (Fantagraphics)
Batman – White Knight  – Sean Murphy (DC)
Orla Kiely – A Life In Pattern (Octopus Books)
Electronic Sound magazine
Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music – David Hollander (Anthology Editions)
House Industries – The Process Is The Inspiration (Watson-Guptill Publications)
Sculpture – Nearest Neighbour comic (Tapebox)
Proxima Centuri – Farel Dalrymple (Image)
Doomsday Clock – Geoff Johns / Gary Frank (DC)
Saga – Brian K. Vaughn / Fiona Staples (Image)
Long Shadows, High Hopes – Neil Fraser (Omnibus Press)
Judge Dredd – The Small House (Rob Williams & Henry Flint) (2000AD/Rebellion)
Lawless  – Dan Abnett / Phil Winslade (Judge Dredd Megazine/Rebellion)
Pete Fowler – Decades of Lead (Unbound)
Diary of a Bookseller – Shaun Bythell (Profile books)

Books + comics

Film/TV:
Inside No.9 series 4 + Halloween special
The Inertia Variations documentary
Flowers series 2
Avengers: Infinity War
Yellow Submarine 50th anniversary remaster
The Karminsky Experience Inc. – See Inside VR + packaging
Bobby Gillespie on Newsnight
The Clock – Christian Marclay, Tate Modern
Bros: After The Screaming Stops (BBC)

Film3

Events / Gigs:
Art of Noise, British Library
‘O Is For Orange’ premiere Archspace, London
The The, Albert Hall, The Troxy, London, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
The Crystal Palace Festival afterparty @ The Paxton Pub, Gypsy Hill, London – one of those gigs where every track flows and lands just right.
The Indie Label Market, Spitalfields, London
The People’s Vote march in October
Jane Weaver at EArtH, London
The Soundcarriers, Gloria and Strange Majick @ The Victoria, London
Dirty Fan Male at the Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, London

Gigs

Exhibitions:
Sister Corita Kent – Ditchling Art & Craft Museum
Orla Kiely – Fashion & Textile Museum, London
Aphex Twin posters – Elephant & Castle underground, London
The Shape of Light, Tate Modern, London
May The Toys Be With You – New Walk Museum, Leicester
John Vernon Lord – The House of Illustration, London
Peanuts – Somerset House, London
Daniel Mullen – Lisa Norris Gallery, London

Exhibitions 2018

“Another year over and what have I done?”
Designed Peshay‘s ‘Reflections’ LP for the De:Tuned label
Created a 3 minute spoken word collage for Penguin/Random House‘s Voices event at the London Palladium on World Book Day
Supported the Art Of Noise at The British Library
DJed multiple times at Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner
Opened for The The at several of their UK gigs including the Royal Albert Hall, Brixton Academy, Glasgow Barrowlands and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Further at the Portico Gallery with Pete Williams, Markey Funk and the Karminsky Experience Inc.
Designed a nine disc set for De:tuned‘s forthcoming 10th anniversary releases
Mixes for Solid Steel, 45 Live, Brokers, Rat Records, Out Of The Wood, Diggers Dozen and radio show appearances for Resonance and Soho Radio
Overhauled my Openmindesign.uk website

DJ Food gigs

RIP: France Gall, Ken Dodd, Stephen Hawking, Matt Dike, Lovebug Starski, Jabo Starks, Tom Wolfe, Aretha Franklin, Orla Kiely shops, Carlos Ezquerra, Paul Allen, Stan ‘The Man’ Lee, HMV, June Whitfield.

Looking forward to: The Delaware Road 2019, Keith Haring retrospective at Tate Liverpool, the Wobbly Sounds book, Further at the Ace Hotel, Sister Corita Kent at the House of Illustration, De:tuned‘s monthly 10th anniversary 12″s, Avengers: Endgame

Happy New Year!

The Delaware Road 2019

Delaware Rd 2019Tickets are already on sale and the line up is being drip feed out over the Xmas period for The Delaware Road‘s third incarnation next August at a secret military base somewhere in Salisbury. This promises to be the biggest and most ambitious version yet, and those who were present at the first two will know that there is nothing quite like them. I’m very pleased to be asked to play for a second time and so far the whole line up is looking like a who’s who of the leftfield electronica/radiophonic/hauntology scene. Put August 17th in the diary and get in on the early bird tickets before they’re gone.

“A unique festival of music, theatre, film, sound & light inside a secret military base near Stonehenge.
Featuring an incredible line up of artists, DJs, video producers, sound designers, record labels, speakers, writers, illustrators & agitators. Gathered inside the austere military complex of New Zealand Farm near West Lavington, artists will perform work inspired by landscape, myth, broadcast propaganda & the transformative nature of sound. 
Performances start at 5pm Saturday evening & end at 3am Sunday morning. Licensed bar, food & merch stalls.
Overnight camping & parking. This event contains adult themes & strobing effects. Under 18s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.”

The line up so far:

THE SEANCE / FRONT & FOLLOW / KEMPER NORTON / THE SLOWEST LIFT / EMBLA QUICKBEAM / ARC SOUNDTRACKS / DJ FOOD \ SARAH ANGLISS / CLAY PIPE MUSIC / SIMON JAMES / REVBJELDE / CASTLES IN SPACE / THE TWELVE HOUR FOUNDATION  / CONCRETISM  / POLYPORES  / PSYCHE TROPES / SCULPTURE / HOWLROUND / MERKABA MACABRE / A’BEAR / DOUG SHIPTON / NICK TAYLOR / ALISON COTTON / IAN HELLIWELL / RADIONICS RADIO

Tickets : https://fixr.co/event/839412645
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Further 3 at the Portico Gallery – by Warm Glow Photo

Further 15th Sept-logoWarmGlow
Many thanks to West Norwood local, Anna Hindocha of Warm Glow Photo for coming down at the last moment to shoot for us at on Sept 15th at the Portico Gallery. She managed to capture the ambience of the night in still form and convey the luminescence of the slides perfectly. Pictured below are Markey Funk, myself and The Karminsky Experience Inc. amongst the projections at various stages during the night.

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Further preview radio show

It’s less than a week until the next Further at the Portico Gallery, and i’ve has put a special preview together of the acts playing for the Out Of The Wood radio show on WNBC.London.


The first hour consists of a primer for special guests The Karminsky Experience Inc. and Markey Funk followed by a selection of Boards of Canada – the subject matter for my ‘O Is For Orange’ audio visual performance. Finishing with the kind of eclectic set co-host Pete Williams will be spinning in the last half hour, you get the gist of the sounds going down this Saturday 15th in West Norwood.

Add copious amounts of retina-singeing visuals, the Karminsky’s giving away copies of their new VR glasses (see above) and tasty local food on sale via the Pimento ’62 people (see menu below) and you get the idea about what to expect. Final batch of tickets for Sept 15th available here.

DJ Food – Welcome To The Dark Ages – Invisible Wind Factory 25.08.17

WTTDA DJ Food

Finally, my 3 hr set at the Welcome To The Dark Ages Graduation BallInvisible Wind Factory, Liverpool, 26.08.17

Originally thought lost after only a recording of the final 11 minutes could be found on my laptop after the gig, the remainder of the set was hidden as an untitled file, found months later during the Christmas TOTP special of 2017. Re-edited back together with the odd touch up, I present the full set played after Badger Kull‘s debut/final performance.

Contains JAMs/Timelords/KLF samples and sources tribute / acid house classics club set / winding down to 3am with occasional attempts to clear the dance floor (didn’t work, the diehard stayed until the end).

For my fully illustrated ‘diary’ of the events of ‘Welcome To The Dark Ages’ check here
Part 1. / Part 2. / Part 3. / Part 4. and my post-happening comedown Chill Out tribute mix at Emotion Wave the day after.

UPDATE: I recently also found my notes for this mix with a rough outline and potential other sections that I could have played including a ‘Liverpool bands’ medley and ‘money’ section that never made it. Bill Drummond had sent me a scan of the page from 2023 that lists the performers at the Xmas Top Of The Pops so I could cram a lot of things into the set list that would later be relevant. Of course, all this stuff is well and good in theory and in the safety of your studio but in the heat of the moment you have to judge what will work and what might not with a crowd in front of you. I was passed a USB stick by Phil Blake on the day of the gig with two fan-made tracks featuring badger samples (Little Fluffy Badgers…) that I threw into the line up at the 11th hour too.

DJ Food JAMs set list

O Is For Orange AV set for Glasgow

McChuills flyer
Glasgow friends, I’ve finally managed to sneak in a performance of my ‘O Is For Orange’ AV set in your fine town, during the two days I’m in Scotland with The The next month.
I performed the 1st AV mix – Selected Aphex Works – last year and Glasgow was one of the best audiences ever.
This is the 2nd and if you like Boards of Canada then this mix is for you…
Sept 4th, McChuills bar, limited tickets here

Further 2 at the Portico Gallery, November 2017


Seeing as I never got round to posting these at the time (I moved house the week after) and with a new event upon us in a month’s time, here’s a quick look back at the last Further at the Portico Gallery, November 2017 with guests Sculpture and Simon James (The Simonsound). Photos by Martin LeSanto-Smith and myself

Simon James at the Buchla 200e Electric Music Box


Here’s a film of Simon’s performance by his brother, Curtis James

Simon James Buchla 200e performance at Further from Simon James on Vimeo.

The record and merch stall was kindly provided by Michael and Dorian from the local Book & Record Bar



Sculpture at soundcheck and during their performance

Tickets for the next one – Sept 15th, 2018 with myself, Pete WIlliams, The Karminsky Experience Inc. and Markey Funk (Delights) are available here.

Further returns Sept 15th

Further 3 Portico poster

Further returns to its spiritual home at the Portico Gallery for another night of Light, Sound & Design.

Markey Funk flys in from Jerusalem to present his take on the heavy fuzz and psych sounds coming from his Delights label.
I’ll be bringing my AV ode to Boards of CanadaO Is For Orange – to the big screens with exclusive visual extras.
The Karminsky Experience Inc. grace the decks with their selection of swinging library, soundtrack and beatnik grooves.
And just when you think you’ve heard it all, Pete WIlliams pulls out those special audio treats he’s been hoarding for just this occasion, all accompanied by the sensory overload of the Further slide, oil and video projections.

Delicious food will be available from Pimento ’62 Catering and a fully licensed bar.

V. ltd. early bird tickets available here now!

It was 30 years ago today

PE Nation of Millions coverAnother anniversary post, this occasion being three decades ago that Public Enemy released their second LP, ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’. This post isn’t entirely about that though but about their debut London gig as part of the 87 Def Jam Tour, supporting LL Cool J at the Hammersmith Odeon, the November before. Also on the bill were Eric B & Rakim (notice the spelling below – and the upcoming Bad News live show posters) and the whole thing was being recorded by the BBC for their ‘Fresh Start To The Week’ rap show.

Hammermith Odean Def Jam Tour 87
Keen-eared listeners will of course know this from the opening lines of the album, MC’d by Fresh Start… host, Dave Pearce, “Hammersmith Odeon are you ready for the Def Jam Tour? Let me hear you make some noise!”. Parts of the gig were interspersed throughout ‘Nations…’ courtesy of The BBC who had already broadcast it by the time the album dropped the next year. Somewhere in among the hollering and whistling were my friends and I as well as many others I would later go on to meet along the way. But first some context:

This was PE’s first trip to the UK, their debut, ‘Yo, Bum Rush The Show’ had been out a while but they’d also released the iconic ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ on the B-side of their last single, ‘You Gonna Get Yours/Mi Uzi Weighs A Ton’. They were supporting LL Cool J on this trip alongside Eric B & Rakim (who were having their own hits like Paid In Full). PE rose up the ranks with incredible speed though. Their first single, ‘Time Bomb/Public Enemy No.1’ was a real oddity, the album dropped in February ’87 and was even weirder but was released on Def Jam so was given perhaps more time than an unknown. When they dropped ‘You Gonna Get Yours’ with the crazed Terminator X Getaway Mix and ‘Rebel…’ on the B side, it was a done deal.

‘Rebel’ was an instant classic – a summer anthem – and more of the same followed. In the autumn, ‘Bring the Noise’, (from the Less Than Zero soundtrack) proved they could do it again and once ‘Nation’ dropped to unanimous acclaim, they were premiere league. By the time they came back to the UK they were either headlining or co-headlining with Run DMC who were still riding off the back of their world-smashing ‘Raising Hell’ album and easily the biggest rap group in the world apart from the Beastie Boys, who still looked like a novelty at that point. But Run DMC’s star was fading and PE – arguably – replaced them.

Winding back to November ’87, they were still the new kids but they’d put quite a show together to make a good first impression. Before we even entered the venue, the unexpected happened, Chuck and Flav appeared outside – behind a barrier and escorted by S1Ws – and chatted with fans. At first they were hesitant but there was such a clamour that they embraced it for a bit, well, Flav did as you can see below.

Chuck + S1W outside
Flav signs autographsFlav + fansFlav + fans 2

Kev + Flav London 1987

That’s me above on the left in the black Kangol hat, what you can’t see is the black body warmer I had on over my leather jacket with a hand-painted Public Enemy stencil logo on the back. This was back before the band even had merch for sale. Chuck was impressed. Below is the concert ticket with a message from Flav scribbled on my train ticket. In hindsight, I think they were perhaps a little overwhelmed at how the UK embraced them on that first tour (remember, ‘Yo, Bum Rush the Show’ was their current record, hence the faded intro on the opening segment on ‘Nation…’). But once the second album dropped, with its BBC recordings and copious thanks to DJs and artists from the UK alongside PE’s US peers, it seems that we made as big an impression as they did.

DefJamTourTicket+autograph

Public Enemy were on first – the stage was packed, there were air raid sirens and the enormous PE logo. Terminator X flanked by two gun-toting, S1Ws on pedestals either side, Professor Griff stalking in the shadows with Chuck and Flav in bright white, bounding all over the place. It was a full on, high octane experience from start to very quick end (about half an hour I think), a scrappy, stop-start show that didn’t let up, and if it did then the whistle and foghorn posse just filled in the gaps as can be heard on the recording.

PE arriveChuck+Griff+S1WFlav+Griff+S1W+ChuckGriff + S1W S1W TerminatorX RocknRoll

Above is the ‘Terminator X!’ moment from ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ which the crowd went absolutely nuts for.
You can see actual footage of the gig on the DVD, ‘The First London Invasion 1987’.

In the middle we had Eric B & Rakim who seemed dwarfed by the huge stage with Eric B largely static, high up on his DJ pedestal and no backdrop graphic, leaving only Rakim to prowl the stage for visual entertainment. I’ve actually cropped more off these photos but wanted to show the enormity of the space they occupied. The sound was poor and Rakim called for more volume a few times.

Eric B + Rakim 2 Eric B + Rakim

After this slightly underwhelming middle act it was LL’s turn and at this point he was the bonafide star of the show. At the top of his golden era hip hop peak with his second album, ‘Bigger & Deffer’, out and the forumla-breaking but uneven ‘Walking With a Panther’ yet to come. His intro blew nearly everything before it to pieces. Set in a mocked up Farmer’s Boulevard street scene (his home, referenced on countless numbers of his rhymes), bookended by two DJ booths, a huge, flashing mothership of a boom box descended from the ceiling to the theme tune of ‘2001’ as his DJs, Cut Creator and Bobcat, scratched over the Original Concept’s ‘Can You Feel It’ until the ‘legend in leather’ walked onstage.

LL Boombox descends

Oozing youthful arrogance, you could see why there were a LOT of women in the audience there for him, here was your first young hip hop heartthrob, only just out of his teens. He was in amazing shape too (see bottom photo) and knew exactly how to work the crowd with a choreographed set involving both DJs (Bobcat even played hype man I seem to remember). His one misstep was to do ‘I Need Love’, the soppy, skip-it-please-ballad from the second album, and he was booed mercilessly for it by a large proportion of the crowd from where I was standing, eager to get back to the high-testosterone beats and cuts. At that point, love ballads had no place in hip hop such as this but the joke’s on all of us as LL and Def Jam had seen some sort of future where RnB would slowly blend with rap so as to become one. James Todd Smith can claim to be a pioneer of that scene, for good or bad, (he didn’t do too badly out of it).

LLCoolJ arrivesLL Cool J 1LLCoolJ 2LL Cool J shirt off

It was 20 years ago today

AAApass

June 23rd, 1998, Brixton Academy, London, UK. A date I’ll never forget, the day I was part of the support package on the London date of the Beastie BoysHello Nasty tour. Pretty mind-blowing, humbling and scary-as-f**k.
The warm up were the Invisibl Skratch Piklz (Mixmaster Mike, Q-Bert and Shortkut) and Money Mark featuring Kid Koala. Mike acted as compere between acts as I recall and we hung out backstage with him, Kid Koala and Money Mark before the show whilst MCA quietly ate at a nearby table. The Beasties were the main attraction of course and played a 30+ song set which I couldn’t completely enjoy because I was so nervous about playing afterwards.

This was no ordinary gig (because The Beastie Boys, who else?) so there was a full-on party DJ roster afterwards too, kicking off with Rob Swift and Total Eclipse from the X-Ecutioners, then Ollie Teeba from The Herbaliser and myself on 4 decks, followed by the original Scratch Perverts (Tony Vegas, DJ Primecuts, Mr Thing and DJ First Rate) all topped off by Alec Empire to clear the place out (which he did in fine style). What a line up! Playing at ‘home’ there were numerous friends and such in the absolutely rammed venue and walking out after the X-Ecutioners was pretty daunting, even though Ollie and I had been practicing our set for weeks. It all flew past and before we knew it we were being hustled off for the Perverts to rip it up.

BeastieBoys Backstage supportAbove: backstage shot, clockwise from top left: Q-Bert, Mr Thing, DJ First Rate, DJ Primecuts, Harry Love, DJ Ollie Teeba, myself, Tony Vegas, Mista Sinista, and Kid Koala centre left.

The few photos I have from that night are pretty terrible but the show poster, complete with guest pass, has hung in my home for the past two decades.

BBBrixton poster
Below: Rob Swift on the decks.

RobSwift

The The’s comeback tour in Leeds and London

Leeds soundcheck
It’s been quiet on here for a bit because I’ve been so busy I’ve not had a minute to put things together. After last week I really had to sit down and write something to summarize what’s been going on though. It’s very hard not to gush over being asked to support The The for three nights in London for their comeback concerts but the experience was a unique one that I’ll never forget. I’ve known Matt Johnson now for about 15 years, we’ve done a few things together and when he asked me to spin a set of cinematic ambience from his back catalogue before each show it couldn’t have been any more of a dream job.

Mattx3LeedssoundcheckMatt is a very astute character, virtually everyone I met during the past two weeks was either a friend, relative or had worked with him in the past at some point. Surrounding himself with such people brings something unique to the events that I’ve not experienced since the early Ninja Tune days. Everyone was top class in their field, approachable, friendly and relaxed. There was no ego, pecking order or division between the crew, everyone ate together and mingled after the shows and I felt accepted very quickly and easily. Matt especially was extremely attentive to everyone’s needs despite having to deal with the awful news of his dad’s death the weekend before. That he pushed forward and went ahead with the shows is a testament to his character and resilience, lesser men would have crumbled.

TheThe Leeds soundcheck
Leeds was the first show, a ‘warm up’ or ‘public rehearsal’ on a Sunday at the end of May, and I was nervous dropping into the middle of a crew after they’d been on the road for a couple of days already. Despite this I knew a couple of people already, Vicki Bennet aka People Like Us and her partner Peter, had put together the video backdrop for the show and were traveling up to preview it. James Eller, the bassist, I’d met the year before and he’s one of the nicest people you could ever meet; calm, warm and funny, a rock solid person and just what you need in a band such as this. Kate Wilkins, the production and lighting designer whose work gave the gigs more of a theatre mood than rock concert, was immediately friendly and welcoming as was Levi, the road manager and the tech crew.

TheTheLeedscrowd

Stepping out onto the small stage in Leeds was pretty daunting, the place was full with hardcore fans and I’m sitting in the middle of the stage playing a collage of samples, edits, loops and atmospheres from nearly 40 years of The The productions. Some were obvious, some very obscure and I quickly realised that a lot of subtlety was lost in the live setting with people talking. The support slot is an odd one, no one is there for you, they’re waiting for the main event and you’re really just filling time, treading water until the clock ticks round to the time the band take the stage. For anyone paying attention I hope I at least filled the gap with something interesting for half an hour, a duration that went by in a flash, having only played half of what I’d prepared.

BrixtonSoundcheck

The band are quite the revelation, Matt’s voice is as strong, clear and commanding as I’ve ever heard it, James’ basslines never wavering. Earl Harvin on drums, a reserved but warm person to chat to, told me that he cannot speed James up or down in tempo if he tries, once he’s locked in that’s it.

JamesEller-Brixtonsoundcheck

Harvin is a killer drummer, whether lightly wielding brushes on ‘The Beat(en) Generation’, pounding out ‘I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow…’ or simultaneously playing the beat AND the percussion to ‘Infected’ with separate hands, I never heard him drop a beat in four nights. DC Collard on keys is a friendly, hilarious character whose star turn on the solo during ‘Uncertain Smile‘ is a set highlight and crowns him man of the match every night. I had to wait until after the first gig to meet ‘Little’ Barrie Cadoghan properly, a red hot guitarist with the unenviable job of filling Johnny Marr‘s shoes who rapidly felt his way into the set and banished any such comparisons by the end of the first run.

RAH soundcheck

The set list is far from an obvious collection of crowd-pleasing hits, with a couple of relative obscurities from Matt’s solo ‘Burning Blue Soul’ debut alongside cuts from the excellent but overlooked ‘Naked Self’ album from 2000. There were a lot of ‘Dusk’ era songs (six!) which were well-judged as the crowds seemed very familiar with them, but only three apiece from ‘Mind Bomb’, ‘Infected’ and ‘Soul Mining’. Notable exclusions were ‘Perfect’, ‘GIANT’ and ‘The Mercy Beat’ but it was a treat to hear ‘Flesh & Bones’ – a ‘Soul Mining’ era compilation track – thrown in near the beginning. Highlights for me were the more uptempo numbers; ‘Armageddon Days…’, ‘This Is The Day’, ‘Infected’ and ‘Uncertain Smile’ and by god DC’s reinterpretation of that piano solo was great EVERY night.

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I’ve Been Waiting For Tomorrow…’ is a challenging number to play as the bass parts waver between four and six bar runs against the original 6/8 drum track which seems to have its own random arrangement. At the end, just as you think they’re done with it, there’s a huge snare roll from Earl and the band drop into a funky jam where Barrie gets his chance to shine. For a taste of the sound of the new band you can check out their recent session on BBC 6 Music for the next month including an interview with Matt where an unexpected link between his and interviewer Steve Lamacq‘s childhood is revealed.

DJFoodRAH-Le@l_n0tePhoto: Leo @l_n0te

RAH panorama

I’d forgotten what a beautiful and intimidating building The Royal Albert Hall is, having not been there since the early 90s, huge but with fine acoustics, it was the perfect setting for the comeback proper. For this gig, Tim Pope filmed the show and I got to watch from the center, back behind the mixing desk. It took ‘This Is The Day’ to get the crowd completely on their feet but it was a fine show.

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DJFood-RAHsoundcheck-PeterPhoto: Peter Knight

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Photo: Nancy Brown

The Brixton Academy was a lot rowdier and I was asked to play on longer as hundreds of people were still outside, presumably thrown by the band’s 8.30pm stage time and the summer weather that day. Things got a little tense as the audience already inside got impatient, there’s nothing like being on stage, having to tread water when thousands want to see and hear the main event. The band had real trouble with the sound on stage with this gig, although you’d never know from their performance, but apparently it was bouncing around all over the place for them.

BrixtonAcademyfromthedecksDJ Food-Brixton-PaulNoblePhoto: Paul Noble.
Matt bought his youngest son, George onstage at the start of the Academy gig, it was the first time he’d seen his dad on stage and did a great job of breaking the ice immediately.
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The Troxy was new to me, I’d heard all about its Art Deco interior and it didn’t disappoint. Neither did the crowd – a hugely appreciative lot who sang along to everything and even applauded after another extended set from myself as more latecomers were squeezed in.

Troxy crowd
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Johanna St. Michaels‘ documentary, ‘The Inertia Variations‘, is now available to watch online and it’s well worth checking out if you have a passing interest in Matt’s history and want to find out where he disappeared to for all those years. I could have watched another hour of it easily as there are so many competing threads left hanging so tantalisingly. Next stop will be Neil Fraser‘s official biography, ‘Long Shadows, High Hopes’, just released this weekend, to fill in the gaps. This is all starting to sound like a huge advertorial so I’ll stop here, honestly, you wait 16 years and then all the buses come at once! A fantastic comeback and I’m so glad people are finally hearing Matt’s songs live and on daytime radio again in the present day. I’ll be supporting again at the Newcastle and Glasgow dates in September…

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DJ Food supporting The The on forthcoming UK dates

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It gives me great pleasure to announce that I’ve been asked by Matt Johnson to open for The The on selected UK dates for their comeback tour this year. Matt didn’t want a conventional band support in the slot but asked if I would prepare something cinematic and ambient, incorporating his music from the last four decades. Fortunately this is exactly the place my head’s been at over the last few years and the chance to do this with Matt’s back catalogue is the stuff of dreams. Expect an improvised ‘cineolascape’ to greet you on arrival for the gigs, different for each night.

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I’ll be joining the band – who have video accompaniment from Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us and design by Kate Wilkins – on
May 27th – Leeds, LMUSU
June 5th – London, Royal Albert Hall
June 6th – London, Brixton Academy
June 7th – London, Troxy
Sept 3rd – Newcastle, Newcastle University
Sept 4th – Glasgow, Barrowlands
Sept 5th – Glasgow, Royal Concert Hall

Also just announced: the new band line up (see above photo by John Claridge), the long-awated biography by Neil Fraser release date and more screenings of The Inertia Variations documentary at the ICA.
Go to https://www.thethe.com/ for more info…

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Posted in DJ Food, Gigs, Music. | 3 Comments | Tags: ,