Within the rontunda magnificence of this splendid north London venue, Happy Mondays delivered two special Christmas shows, their fourth and fifth in the capital this year following their recent reunion of the full original lineup after more than 19 years.

With the addition of singer Rowetta, the band, featuring its 1980 personnel of brothers Shaun Ryder (vocals) and Paul Ryder (bass), Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboards) and Gary Whelan (drums) alongside dancer/percussionist Bez, opened with club mix ‘Hallelujah’ and chart classic ‘Kinky Afro’; their trademark keyboard and guitar chimes pumping out.

The majority of the setlist was selected from their 1990 chart topping album, ‘Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches’, with performances of ‘God’s Cop’, ‘Loose Fit’ and ‘Step On’. Bez’s mutant robot dancing was popular with the audience as always but he remained offstage for most of the show, leaving lead singer Shaun bemused to his whereabouts until he later returned to the set.

Shaun babbled during and inbetween songs, his vocal style being slightly tainted in similarity to that of fellow Mancunian musician and frontman of The Fall, Mark E Smith, although maintaining a level of clarity. The band’s musical style, which influenced the rave and acid house cultures following in the wake of the Madchester scene, takes its own inspiration from funk and soul when stripped to the core.

There were dry patches when less known songs were played and the dance atmosphere had to be quickly revived. The plaudit banality of ’24 Hour Party People’, made famous on the soundtrack of the film of the same name, was followed by two songs off 1988 album, ‘Bummed’, with the band finishing on ‘Wrote For Luck’.

With next year’s upcoming release of the band’s sixth studio album, the first by the original lineup in more than 20 years, and international tour dates in the pipeline, this Happy Mondays reunion is strongly signalling it may be around for some time to come.

19/12/12: Happy Mondays @ Roundhouse, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Following a tour earlier this year with Officers, Gary Numan returned to The Forum on his ‘Dead Moon Falling’ tour to showcase special remixes alongside new songs from his pending album, ‘Splinter’, due for release in the summer of next year.

Submerged in a colourful fog for most of the night, Numan transformed the venue into a rave nightclub with reverberating bass, strobe lighting and the odd fans holding glowsticks. He opened with ‘Films’ from his 1979 number 1 album, ‘The Pleasure Principle’.

Unfortunately, Numan performed heavily off his latest album, ‘Dead Son Rising’, with remixed tracks such as ‘Dead Sun Rising’, also premièring two new ‘Splinter’ songs, ‘We Are Dust’ and ‘We Are The Unforgiven’. The nauseous heavy trudge and darkwave industrial of the setlist was only interrupted by delicate wailing synth in music producer Andy Gray’s remix of ‘A Prayer For The Unborn’.

Officers, who were supporting Numan again on this tour, are promoting the recent release of their collaboration single with the musician, ‘Petals’, and joined him on stage to play the song.

The show came alive at its end, with Numan robotically performing his 1979 number 1 Tubeway Army classic, ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, and his first solo single, ‘Cars’. He also sang ‘Replicas’ fan favourite, ‘Down In The Park’. A good finish to an otherwise mediocre night borne out of a setlist soaked in unimaginative new material.

07/12/12: Gary Numan @ The Forum, London.

Photo © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Having last performed in London as guests of The Kinks’ Ray Davies at Meltdown festival in 2011, The Sonics returned for their only UK show this year, parading their blown-out-of-all-proportions Pacific Northwest garage rock to a full house.

The Tacoma five-piece, still going 52 years later, consists of three classic members and two newer ones with Freddie Dennis (vocals/bass) and Ricky Lynn Johnson (drums) replacing the band’s co-founder Andy Parypa and original drummer Bob Bennett. They played as they once recorded: with a mixture of their own tracks and cover songs.

‘Louie Louie’, one of the most recorded songs in music history, was a slight disappointment in vocal audibility – the Richard Berry composition that made famous The Sonics’ Portland contemporaries, The Kingsmen. But this was brilliantly followed by its A-side, ‘Cinderella’, with Dennis doing the vocal medley of fairytale and sinister tones. The Wailers’ ‘Dirty Robber’, recorded by the band for their debut album, ‘Here Are The Sonics’, was a reminder of their mentorship under Kent Morrill and Buck Ormsby which granted the band its big break.

One of their most famous and well known cover versions, ‘Have Love, Will Travel’, another Richard Berry song, was sung by original lead vocalist, Jerry Roslie, before Dennis resumed his wild mic duties in furious R ‘n’ B Little Richard song, ‘Keep A-Knockin’ ‘, the B-side to The Sonics’ first record and 1964 single, ‘The Witch’, which was also performed.

The danceable addiction of ‘Psycho’ and ‘Strychnine’, with Roslie’s antique vocal sound still intact despite his inability to scream much these days, was unfortunately interjected with Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’; a strange choice for a band more accustomed to covering ’50s-’60s R ‘n’ B and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Whilst they’ll never replicate the sounds they were jutting out back in the day for an abundance of modern equipment, The Sonics are still ‘maintaining their cool’ canon-drop drum beat, vocal raspiness and monosyllabic guitar chords.

30/11/12: The Sonics @ The Garage, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Within the grand chamber neighbouring Islington Town Hall, Dr Feelgood delivered an evening of ’70s Canvey Island rhythm and blues grooves from a band at the forefront of more than 40 years of pub rock history.

But the untimely death of frontman and vocalist Lee Brilleaux in 1994 meant that current singer of 13 years, Robert Kane, and a lineup consisting of Brilleaux’s remaining bandmates, Steve Walwyn (guitar), P H Mitchell (bass) and Keith Morris (drums), really had their work cut out.

Dr Feelgood’s blues rock twister with slide guitar moments featured ‘If My Baby Quit Me’ and ‘Standing At The Crossroads Again’ alongside classics ‘Milk And Alcohol’ and ‘Roxette’, the energy and rhythms still somewhat alive, with Kane as good a frontman as could be hoped for, as he gymnastically kicked his legs into the air.

But by the time ’89 and ’83 recruits Walwyn and Mitchell were sweating out guitar and bass duets in ‘Down By The Jetty Blues’, there was at least one hardcore fan heckling that it just wasn’t Dr Feelgood. Nevertheless, the musicianship was respectfully diligent whether or not it could live up to the Wilko Johnson, Sparko and The Big Figure original phase of the band.

Despite being tipped as the group that inspired a host of punk musicians with its unabashedly slick R ‘n’ B swings, and with similar timbre in songs like the 1977 harmonica spiced ‘Baby Jane’ and its fast bassy beat, there’s too much repetitive rhythm that makes it a bit of a sick pill for listeners accustomed to those in its wake. Punk stole the electricity but left behind much of the thickness of ’60s blues, favouring a more nasal rock ‘n’ roll without the frills.

They finished on the timeless ‘Lights Out’ and the matador sweep of Kane’s scarlet lined coat in ‘Bonie Maronie/Tequila’. Dr Feelgood, in accordance with Brilleaux’s dying wish, has continued the spirit of the Canvey Island blues into the modern age, but where more varied experimentalism is favoured over jivey rhythms, it doesn’t quite cut it.

02/11/12: Dr Feelgood @ Islington Assembly Hall, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Celebrating 20 years since the release of their debut album, ‘Spartacus’, The Farm successfully delivered their rescheduled anniversary show with a few very special surprises along the way. The half empty venue was testament to the underrated achievements of a band that played their own part in defining the music capital of the north.

The Liverpool baggy band consists of the original ‘Spartacus’ personnel, with Peter Hooton (vocals), Keith Mullin (lead guitar), Carl Hunter (bass) and Roy Boulter (drums), whilst second guitarist Steve Grimes was replaced for the show due to a bereavement. They played in succession every track from the number one album, which turned 20 years old last year, topping things off with amazing special guest appearances.

Being part of the Madchester scene which gave rise to successful north west bands like The Fall, New Order and Happy Mondays, The Farm united funky basslines with disco and dance rock rhythms sparked from The Haçienda nightclub, maintaining links with their influences whilst reaching out into contemporary rave and acid house culture.

Utilising backing tracks throughout in the absence of Happy Mondays second incarnation keyboardist, Ben Leach, The Farm opened with B-side ‘Stepping Stone’ – their cover of Paul Revere & The Raiders’ ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’ – before working through ‘Spartacus,’ from their 1984 single, ‘Hearts And Minds’, produced by Madness frontman and vocalist, Suggs McPherson, to the early ’90s indie rock England Euro 2004 anthem, ‘All Together Now’. The guitar riff at the beginning of ‘How Long’ sounded fresh off the strings of fellow Liverpudlian Will Sergeant’s Telecaster, before the funky interburst and dance rhythms took over.

Perhaps one of their best tracks, taking huge inspiration from Happy Mondays’ dance mixes, is top ten chart single, ‘Groovy Train’, which personifies the laid back, casual Madchester culture, with its psychedelic scattered guitar riff intro and Hooton‘s “baggy jeans and long blonde hair” lyrics.

The Clash’s Mick Jones, one of the band’s special guests, appeared on stage to perform ‘All Together Now’ and a couple of his own songs to finish the show. Jones is no stranger to The Farm, the band being integral in his performance of Clash numbers for the first time in nearly 30 years as part of his Hillsborough appeal band, Justice Tonight, a cause also commemorated by other musicians such as The Housemartins founder and ‘Spartacus’ producer, Paul Heaton, and in The Justice Collective charity cover of ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, instigated by The Farm and favourite for Christmas number one. Jones’ return gesture performance of ‘All Together Now’, which uses Johann Pachelbel’s ‘anon’ chord sequence, had the whole capacity dancing, with Hooton even singing Sister Sledge’s ‘We Are Family’ inside the song. The La’s John Powers also guested, with Jones joining him occasionally on vocals to sing the reggae grooves of The Clash‘s ‘Bankrobber‘. They ended on a slightly jumbled performance of Jones and Joe Strummer’s ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’.

The Farm carry more credibility than the indie dance rock that popularised the scene, notably The Stone Roses, who are unreasonably showered with praise as having started something huge. But the Madchester movement truly belongs to all those who inspired it and fleshed it out, and it shouldn’t have to take widely recognised musicians like Mick Jones and his proud musical association with The Farm to realise this. If you haven’t heard the sonic blueprint in The Farm’s music ring out loud, you’re patronising the entire historical archive.

28/10/12: The Farm @ O2 Academy Islington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



With the release last month of his first solo studio album since 2005, ‘Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood’, John Cale returned after two years to the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall as part of its Ether festival, his last show there being a performance of ‘Paris 1919’, arguably his best solo work of all time. Since the release of the ‘Extra Playful’ EP in 2011, there has been much anticipation for his latest solo album – and it does not disappoint.

Dressed for the occasion in a fanciful pink jacket and upturned collar, Cale dedicated a third of the setlist to the new songs from his 16th solo studio album, with another third consisting of older varieties, now performed by a younger band comprising Dustin Boyer (guitar), Joey Maramba (bass) and Michael Jerome Moore (drums/percussion), most of whom Cale carried through from ‘blackAcetate’. They opened with the gothic creep of ‘Captain Hook’ from live 1979 CBGB album, ‘Sabotage’, before moving onto newer material.

‘Extra Playful’ songs appeared prominently, including the stripped down Ray Johnson rap, ‘Hey Ray’. Cale then played off the new album with ‘I Wanna Talk 2 U’, the studio recording of which features American musician and producer, Danger Mouse. The clunk of ‘Scotland Yard’ and dark electro-industrial of ‘December Rains’ were interwoven by rockier classics ‘Guts’ and the show stopping 1975 song, ‘Helen Of Troy’, elongated with roughened guitar saw.

After an acoustic guitar swap technicality following which Cale performed further on the instrument, he returned to keyboards, featuring the angular off-key ‘Satellite Walk’. The two hour show came to an end with new and old: ‘Nookie Wood’, the eponymous track off the 2012 album, contrastingly stashed up against ‘Gun’ from the 1974 album ‘Fear’, which merged into Cale’s Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers cover of ‘Pablo Picasso’. With his fresh and creative instrumentation penetrating into the modern age, John Cale is celebrated for his exceptional songwriting and production skills, which were most deserving of the standing ovation he received as the night came to a close.

13/10/12: John Cale @ Royal Festival Hall, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Following his first live reunion with Keith Levene in nearly 30 years earlier in 2012, jazz lover Jah Wobble detoured back to his other projects, returning for the second time in a year to Dalston’s Vortex Jazz Club as part of his UK tour with The Modern Jazz Ensemble.

Comprising Sean Corby (trumpet), Marc Layton-Bennett (drums), George King (keyboard) and Jah Wobble (bass guitar), the band delivered a first set of jazz fusion reminiscent of the Miles Davis 1969-71 ‘electric period’, clearly taking their inspiration from his ‘In A Silent Way’, ‘Bitches Brew’ and ‘A Tribute To Jack Johnson’ albums, as well as Wayne Shorter style improvisation.

There were also heavy flashes of Donald Byrd, Art Ensemble Of Chicago’s avant-garde jazz-funk and Weather Report, but the band of course had their own compositional sounds and snippets of songs such as ‘9’ from their 2011 album, ‘7’, based sometimes on spiky mixes of rhythm section and melody as Wobble shouted out for the rhythm transitions.

The second set saw the rest of the seven-piece on stage and a Japanese jazz and woodwind focus, with Shakuhachi specialist Clive Bell (flutes/melodica) and Japanese musicians Keiko Kitamura (vocals/strings) and Emi Watanabe (vocals/flute/percussion) on traditional Koto, Sanshin, Komabue and Binzasara instruments. They performed an agricultural, medieval Japanese folk melody, with Wobble at one point playing loose upright bass.

Kitamura then introduced a supposedly depressing number, ‘Cherry Blossom Of My Youth’ – “I sing of the cherry blossom of my youth and I become melancholic” – before the band launched into a dubbed Koto structured track with Watanabe’s mystical Komabue flute solo at its centre. Bell did another solo on Shakuhachi, after which they diverged back into jazz fusion with ska piano keys, melodica and trumpet improvisation for the infectious reggae grooves of Marcia Aitkin’s 1977 single, ‘I’m Still In Love With You Boy’. A refreshingly explored twist for the ex-PiL dub musician.

28/09/12: Jah Wobble + The Modern Jazz Ensemble @ Vortex Jazz Club, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Renowned Swedish free jazz saxophonist, Mats Gustafsson, and former Sonic Youth guitarist, Thurston Moore, played a sold out two-day residency at Cafe Oto for an improv evening of experimental, industrialised noise mess.

The two musicians, previously of the Diskaholics Anonymous Trio and numerous other collaborations, were also joined by guitarist John Russell and keyboardist Pat Thomas of improv group, Mopomoso, for three sets of rash free-flow instrumentation on the second and final night of their unique residency.

The first set saw Russell on an acoustic guitar without much in the way of pickups, string plucking his instrument like a violin with Moore savagely attacking on electric, producing a wirey, squeaky glass-drop like a thriller mashup scrambling to and fro between tempo changes. They resourcefully used every part of the instrument going, as Russell jabbed away at the bridge.

This was followed by another set on a much more surreal level, with a duo between Gustafsson and Thomas. Whilst Thomas was on synthesiser producing drilly, reverberating earthy rumbles, Gustafsson strained every muscle in his upper torso as he wrenched electronics plugged into an amp, creating a screechy, whirring white noise. There was no agenda, just randomised struggles against order.

All four musicians then united for a quartet: Gustafsson blowing disjointedly into ancient, squeaky baritone and soprano saxophones, Moore whammy bar fidgeting, Russell rubbing the body of his guitar and Thomas dipping into the grand piano strings. An unconventional jamming session, with clattering notes warped and sucked into a vacuum, colliding into crescendo.

They finished on a fully blown duet of grating radio distortion and chainsaw frequencies between Gustafsson and Moore, with the latter using a steel file on his glassy guitar strings and feedbacking against the amp. After a final set of half an hour, exhausted from their efforts to bend solid objects into contemporary industrial noise, the pair retired off stage with a simple “Thank you.”

23/09/12: Mats Gustafsson + Thurston Moore @ Cafe Oto, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.




For the first time in 26 years and for their first joint UK tour in history, The Cult and The Mission combined forces for special co-headlined shows, the first they’ve done together since 1986. The two gothic hard rock bands share close ties, with The Mission’s original and current bass player, Craig Adams, having previously played for The Cult.

Up first were The Mission: spawned from the breakup of Andrew Eldritch’s ’80s gothic rock band, The Sisters Of Mercy, they delve into a gothic hard rock hashed out with bits of Ian McCulloch’s Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Murphy’’s Bauhaus and The Cure’s synth darkwave.

The Mission’s co-founder and vocalist, Wayne Hussey, alongside the band’s other original members, Adams and guitarist Simon Hinkler, are still touring together after more than 25 years and successive lineup alterations. They played primarily from their first four studio albums, featuring ‘Beyond The Pale’, ‘Naked And Savage’ and ‘Sacrilege’, and also included the 1990 single, ‘Butterfly On A Wheel’, taken from the band’s best-selling album, ‘Carved In Sand’.

Hussey’s interchange between power choruses and dark murmurs was teased by the haunting chime of Hinkler’s guitar. The synthy instrumentals of ‘The Crystal Ocean’ sounded like they belonged in The Cure’s ‘A Forest’, and yet there’s a freshness about The Mission’s unique sound that means it remains contemporary beyond age.

They ended on ‘Tower Of Strength’, having played for over an hour following Killing Joke being dropped from the bill amongst much controversy, after a fan pretending to be lead singer, Jaz Coleman, posted an ‘official’ statement on Killing Joke’s Facebook page displaying hostility about the tour. Coleman, AWOL at the time, stated he had been in the western Sahara desert and cleared up confusion by dissociating with the post, but somewhat confirmed that his band would no longer be doing the tour.

But this tour was really all about The Cult anyway. Formed with original members and songwriters, vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy, they shot in with ‘Lil’ Devil’; a blast of huge contrast to their tour partners with countrified, cranky, sawing guitar riffs and an old rock school feel, before moving into fan favourite, ‘Rain’, interwoven with gothic strands and taken from the highly acclaimed 1985 ‘Love’ album.

There was still a bit of gothic post-punk within the slices of guitar structures, such as in ‘Nirvana’, which were then gradually obscured by heavier rock. And the introduction to old song, ‘Horse Nation’ from ‘Dreamtime’, even sounds suspiciously like a cheeky replica of Joy Division. The band, who this year released their ninth studio album, ‘Choice Of Weapon’, included a select of new songs in the setlist. ‘Life>Death’ was one of these songs; richly steeped in thick romanticism with rock noir.

Despite boos filling the arena as Astbury paid homage to regular tour abandoners, Killing Joke, he was quick to defend them, citing the late Paul Raven as having been a close friend of his. The band finished on a duo of Cure-like ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’, with Astbury throwing tambourines into the crowd only to replace them with new ones.

Although this band has dissipated much of its post-punk upbringing for a heavy rock swap around ‘Electric’, there’s still some ’80s enzymes remaining in their gas tank (also seen in some of the new album), solely down to gothic jewels in Duffy’s guitar parts preventing them from disappearing into the raw rocking sunset.

16/09/12: The Cult + The Mission @ Hammermsith Apollo, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Patti Smith and her band returned to London to play a sold out date at the Troxy theatre on a night of ‘power to the people’ extravaganza. Her band, made up of original Patti Smith Group members Lenny Kaye and Jay Dee Daugherty aside Tony Shanahan and her son Jackson Smith, also joined her onstage.

Following the release this summer of her eleventh studio album, ‘Banga’, Smith dedicated the night to subjects ranging from the personal to the political, including Pussy Riot’s right to “pray any way [they] want” as well as tributes to Amy Winehouse (‘This Is The Girl’) and her late husband, MC5’s Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith.

Although the setlist included newer tracks off the ‘Banga’ release, such as Smith’s latest single ‘April Fool’, it was busier with oldies wisely chosen to compliment her more recent basing in poetic rock ‘n’ roll variance, with ‘Dancing Barefoot’, ‘Pissing In A River’ and ‘Ghost Dance’, though her power rock rhythms returned as she spat and pumped out to ‘Free Money’.

While Smith left the stage to greet the fans she is so consciously connected to, guitarist Lenny Kaye and the rest of the band delivered a medley of cover songs from his ’60s psychedelic garage compilation album, ‘Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era’, in this, the 40th anniversary year since its release.

Smith had the entire venue capacity singing “Glooorrriiiaaa” before she finished on ‘Rock N Roll Nigger’, with her character Johnny from ‘Horses’ contemporised to enter today’s “outside of society”, then funnelling back into ‘Gloria’ for a final house blast-down. Smith left her fans with her own contemporary mantra: “Be clean, work hard, don’t be afraid…and pray the way you fucking want!” Powerful, blunt, but beautiful is she.

13/09/12: Patti Smith and her band @ Troxy, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.







Following their reform five years ago with the addition of a new drummer and bass player, Zounds have been regulars on the tour bus, last year releasing their second studio album, ‘The Redemption Of Zounds’, a staggering 30 years after debut album, ‘The Curse Of Zounds’.

A lot of evolving and redefinition has taken place over that time with the band increasingly touring in Europe, but the feel of their anarchic “Crass family” status has changed too. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the membership of Steve Lake, original Zounds vocalist and founder.

Newer members, Paul O’Donnell and Paul Gilbert (both formerly of The Evil Presleys), are now integrated mentally and musically into the band, especially Gilbert, whose rhythm time is exceptional. But Laurence Wood (original Zounds guitarist), who was hiding in the audience, is very much missed in the guitar section of the band, as Lake himself joked.

The frontman has taken Zounds in a different direction in the new album, replacing anarchic punch with frail instrumentation and jingling mellifluousness to the point that there’s little that solidifies them with anarchy at all. Live performance of older tracks somewhat maintains its rawness, albeit poorer on the night due to Lake being out of tune. Interestingly, only one song from the new album featured.

They missed off ‘Can’t Cheat Karma’, the B-side of the 1980 Crass records EP which bought the band its recognition. ‘Dirty Squatters’, ‘Target’ and A-sides ‘War’ and ‘Subvert’ were definitive substitutes with Lake’s shrieking and rumbled poeticism inbetween, although being out of tune left ‘Subvert’ a shadow of its former self.

Anarchic mentors Crass were eventually sunk for fear of becoming their own tribute band. But for those who want to carry on, the secret of survival usually lies in writing and playing material that satisfies both older and more recent times, yet the gap between these anarchic counterparts in recording and live performance couldn’t be bigger.

14/09/12: Zounds @ The Lexington, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Big Sexy Noise comprises guitarist James Johnson (Gallon Drunk/Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds) and drummer Ian White (Gallon Drunk) playing alongside the queen of no wave herself, Mama Lunch – a reverb garage-grunge loosely rhythmicised to a temptuous sway, upset by heavier rock owning to its punk rejection dissonance.

The former Teenage Jesus & The Jerks and 8-Eyed Spy singer typically lubricated the night with the full flavour of her crude gritty sexual feminism, such as in ‘Your Love Don’t Pay My Rent’: “This love song is about those mornings when you wake up after you just got done for screwing the brains out of some beautiful young man-child and you still think, ‘What the fuck for?'”

BSN is a noise combo of White’s cymbal crash and Johnson’s deep techno-tone guitar, which in ‘Ballin’ The Jack’ created a low funky bassy dub against the rapping vocals of Lunch, even more prominent in ‘Doughboy’. Lunch slowed down the pace with the dingy hum of the “swampy, sexy, stinky” song, ‘Trust The Witch’, before applying characteristic red lipstick and performing ‘Collision Course’ and ‘The Gospel Singer’, the latter co-written with Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth).

They finished on an encore of the 1974 ‘Sally Can’t Dance’ Lou Reed cover, ‘Kill Your Sons’, with the audible stripping down of the vocalesque and low dub riff ringing out like a throbbing tribal call. BSN, so different and unique to Lunch’s previous projects, is purified New York no wave, back-to-basics no nonsense noise, sexualised and membranal.

01/07/12: Lydia Lunch’s Big Sexy Noise @ Islington O2 Academy, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



In the 35th anniversary year of ‘Damned Damned Damned’, original Damned guitarist and drummer, Brian James and Rat Scabies, following numerous collaborations together in recent years, commemorated the first British punk album release in history. Utilising the help of frontwoman Texas Terri and Austen Gayton (Flatpig), they played the record in full at The 100 Club with a few bonus extras, giving a twist to ’77 punk tri-decade-nce.

Texas Terri, of Texas Terri Bomb! and former lead singer of The Killer Crows, guest appeared on vocals to provide an energetic rush that put a heavier slick on the originals. Breaking in with ‘Neat Neat Neat’, The Damned’s second single – amongst hints of the subtle joke of having a woman replace Dave Vanian – Texas Terri may have not been everyone’s cup of tea, but her wild stage schisms and crowd surfing was a dusting device to the slab riffs curled out from Brian’s guitar, as Rat jittered away on drums.

Typical Damned songs, ‘Born To Kill’ and ‘Fish’ were reeled out against the matt darkwave tones of ‘Feel The Pain’, which were further perturbed by the sludge of James and Scabies’ ‘You Take My Money’, off second album ‘Music For Pleasure’. The Beatles’ ‘Help!’, from The Damned’s 30th anniversary box set release, sided with other rare collections, including the ‘Stretcher Case Baby’ limited single from 1977.

But the best was last. Texas Terri handed out a bouquet of red roses for the first punk single ever to be released in the UK, ‘New Rose’, bringing the night to a close with Brian’s famous-above-all-others riff crackling off fretboard frenzy. A different kind of celebration of an album that is better refreshed than reproduced, and more ingenuous with The Damned’s co-founding fathers at its helm.

07/06/12: Brian James & Rat Scabies + Guests @ The 100 Club, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.




A few years ago, if someone had said there was going to be a Buzzcocks reunion, many people would have laughed. If someone had said that Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto would have done anything musically together again, even more people would have laughed. Yet there it was – Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle, Steve Garvey, John Maher and Howard Devoto, reunited after 33 years, as they took a bow before fans at Brixton Academy.

For two nights only, in Manchester and London, the Buzzcocks reunited for “Back To Front” special shows featuring three sets for three different lineups, spanning the history of the band by beginning at their most recent recordings through to the 1977 ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP, which they performed at Lesser Free Trade Hall opening for the Sex Pistols, 36 years ago.

Following the first set, which for the most part was unappealing to much of the crowd and agonising for those more interested in the classic lineup, the second set finally got underway, opening with 1978 punk track ‘Fast Cars’ off the band’s debut album, ‘Another Music In A Different Kitchen’, a song which Devoto co-wrote with Shelley and Diggle. ‘Autonomy’ and ‘Fictional Romance’ soon followed; poppier in their choruses but instrumentally closer to what the Buzzcocks were at their prime – a punk influenced, romanticised pop-rock band.

They then moved onto their later albums, playing ‘Sixteen Again’ and ‘Promises’, although the Oasisesque taint of the vocals and elongated empire rock chorus lines of encore track, ‘Harmony In My Head’, were thankfully extinguished by ‘Orgasm Addict’, the band’s first single, also partly written by Devoto. But the two classic tracks ‘What Do I Get?’ and ‘Ever Fallen In Love With Someone?’ were Buzzcock staples that sweetened any distaste from the rest of the setlist.

The characters of the original lineup were still in full bloom – Diggle on guitar, who cursed profanities after being spray painted with beer early in the second set, was clearly enjoying himself as he failed his arms; John Maher bashed out a drum solo on his elevated platform as part of a quick detour back to the early reputable track, ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’.

But the third set was something completely superior. ‘Spiral Scratch’, the band’s first record and one of the earliest punk releases, and the earliest independently released one at that, was played in its entirety with its original frontman, Howard Devoto. Shelley used his Starway broken-off guitar which was used in the EP recording to provide the knarky, hashy sound as much as 36 years could allow for.

The best SS EP track renditions were ‘Time’s Up’ and ‘Boredom’, the former of which Shelley gnarled away with Devoto on vocals, touching nasal in order to attain punk paranoia. On the encore they had a surprise track, ‘I Can’t Control Myself’, The Troggs cover from Devoto collaboration demos released on the rare ‘Time’s Up’ LP bootleg. Devoto’s personal artistic touches, which feature heavily in his true musical and artistic expression, Magazine, were his use of a man with an overcoat rushing on with a mirror, in which he checked himself and applied sunglasses.

Although there had been mistakes in the Manchester set, the second night in London had been unfathomably precious, not a mere nostalgia trip, but an emotional revisit to one of the most successful English rock bands, albeit at the price of punk experimental sacrificials, there was something remarkable about seeing them back together after this long.

26/05/12: Buzzcocks @ O2 Academy Brixton, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

©Ayisha Khan.



Prior to the release of their second album, ‘Noise and Revolution’, The Bermondsey Joyriders showcased their entire new track listings from start to finish at Soho’s cabaret and burlesque nightclub, as the first copies of the album went on sale ahead of its general release this week.

The record is a world apart from the band’s eponymous debut album – Gary Lammin’s black bloosy rock and slide guitar are still prominent, but more fervent is the embrace of full blown out rock ‘n’ roll elements aside a range of genres that reclaim what got lost from punk heritage between the ’60s and ’70s.

But let this be no blindfold to the angry punk rock molten core that is immersed under ironic visual exteriors; the band’s theatrical value in bringing across a very serious point about the decay of static but changing society. Anyone who thinks blues rock ‘n’ roll isn’t a part of punk is seriously mistaken.

The band entered the stage in their jester tartan dress code; Lammin and Martin Stacey bashing and kicking the life out of their guitars in an Andy Gill Gang Of Four moment, amongst a ravage of Blitz air raid sirens and firework sound effects, before writer-musician Charles Sharr Murray took to the mic to act as spoken word substitute for John Sinclair, one-time manager of Detroit punks MC5 and narrator in The BJR’s Marvel Comics styled allegory about a rock ‘n’ roll band that sets out to change the world.

‘Society Is Rapidly Changing’, the first song on the new album, is abrasive guitar and classic ’77 punk vocals shouting about the turn of modern day societal destruction. Dave M Allen, record producer for new wave acts including The Cure and Depeche Mode, has also induced variation on the album in catchy songs like the Kafkaesque ‘Creepy Crawler’ which, although a few alternative tones softer than punk, are blisteringly realistic in cornering the grotesque delinquency of social disrepair, also evident in ‘Proper English’ and the noise guitar track, ‘Tru Punk’.

New drummer, Chris Musto, having replaced guest drummers The Damned’s Rat Scabies and Keith Boyce, can’t be anymore befitting, coming from the same expansive musical mindset through his rich portfolio of artist collaborations, including Glen Matlock & The Philistines, Joe Strummer and Johnny Thunders.

Lammin’s slide guitar, with its country and blues twinge, was accompanied by Charles on harmonica for ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Demon’, the song that encourages bold and fresh ‘thinking outside the box’ attitudes, which could teach a thing or two to their sterile so-called punk critics. ‘Noise and Revolution’, the track that shares its name with the record, finished their live album showcase before the encore welcomed back ‘Football’ and ‘Who R Ya?’ off the debut; more street-chained to their Bermondsey roots. If there’s anything punk rock can learn, it’s from this band.

24/05/12: The Bermondsey Joyriders @ Madame JoJo’s, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

©Ayisha Khan.



After a long stint away from this underground punk haven, the metallurgy street punks were welcomed back to perform at a packed-to-the-rafters sweat fest following their return from touring Japan. Frontman Charlie Harper was quick to pay homage to Converse for saving the venue three months earlier, with the band appropriately decked out in footwear to match.

Amidst the stifling heat, the band thrashed out early favourites such as ‘Rockers’ and ‘Down On The Farm’, aside newer guitar-winding hysteria track ‘Creation’ off their ‘Work In Progress’ album, with the next instalment in their alphabetised records, ‘XXIV’, currently in the recording process and due for release soon.

The UK Subs have constantly maintained a huge and loyal following, in which the secret of their success lies and sees fruition in addictive classic chorus lines featuring the repetitive communal lyrics of songs like ‘Barbie’s Dead’ and ‘Warhead’. Strappy walking basslines that belong in a heavy metal lineup are monotonously audible over reeling guitar rock ‘n’ roll solos, adding more flavour to the puerility of some of their contemporaries.

Charlie, who turns 68 today(!), remains the undeterred grassy vocals aside an animate backing, most distinctively featuring Jet’s delirious guitar in its uncontainable and deranged form. As the mosh pit swelled and the room sweltered, the band finished on ‘I Couldn’t Be You’ and The Sonics’ ‘Strychnine’. With a great turnout jammed into the bowels of The 100 Club, the Subs shattered the silence for a welcome back to the city where it all began.

17/05/12: UK Subs @ The 100 Club, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Mark E Smith and his Mancunian enigma have returned to tour, playing their debut capital city gig of 2012 to the packed out south London Coronet Theatre. Following the release of their ‘Your Future Our Clutter’ and ‘Ersatz G.B.’ albums over the last couple of years, the band has managed to hermitise its old school roots of post-punk wilderness and deafening basslines imprinted with MES’ paroxysmal vocal scramblings, while embracing their speedy rockabilly and Krautrock influences.

Opening with ‘Damflicters’ and ‘Nate Will Not Return’, the latter stretching its repetitive riff crash succession over 10 minutes, MES resumed with the usual amp twitching and screaming out his muso incomprehensibles before doing a cover of ’60s garage band The Sonics’ ‘Strychnine’ with “Brrrrrr!” substituting the proto-punk wails of the original.

They played ‘Psykick Dance Hall’, a familiar to the setlist from the synonymous ‘Dragnet’ album, before returning to their later work with ‘Cowboy George’ and crowd pleaser favourite ‘Bury Pts. 1 + 3’; Elena joining on vocals to shout, “I’m not from Bury!” and doing the key tones for surprise mix ‘Cab It Up!/Jack The Ripper’, as well as keeping hold of MES by the jacket before he fell off the stage during ‘White Lightning’, in this, her tenth year anniversary since joining the band.

With the set sounding brilliantly charged for the ‘coherence within incoherence’ bludgeoned noise mess and frequency convulsing output, and the mosh pit fights raving, the band finished the night on ‘Mr. Pharmacist’, MES letting out a few drunken smiles and muttering something about his retirement before shifting off the stage. Unchanged but constantly evolving through the eminence of its creator, any assembling line-ups can wax and wane, but MES remains constant in the wake. The Fall cannot possibly be leaving us quite yet, surely.

11/05/12: The Fall @ Coronet Theatre, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.



Flipper were back in the UK for the first time since 2006 as part of their European tour, this year marking the 30th anniversary of their debut studio album, ‘Album – Generic Flipper’. Six years prior, they toured with Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, now relieved of his duties by new bassist Rachel Thoele of girl band Frightwig. Original members Bruce Loose (vocals/bass), Ted Falconi (guitar) and Steve DePace (drums) are still the backbone of the San Francisco punk noise rock band.

Although the show was slightly marred by poor turnout and audience lethargy, Flipper’s sound was unhesitantly unimpeached by the maraud of time that has elapsed since ‘Sex Bomb’ was first released on the world back in 1981. A hypnotic gritty noise rock that disjoints punk to a slow rocking motion, creating a mesh of wirey repetitive seesaw guitar riffs from which it can’t escape.

The band, known to have influenced Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and the Melvins, opened with ‘Life is Cheap’ and ‘Shed No Tears’ off ‘Generic’ before moving onto their newer ‘Love’ album with ‘Why Can’t You See?’. Bruce lacks the grainy clarity he once had (possibly enhanced by the irritating mic feedback; perhaps deliberate but at times unwanted), but his stage presence remains unstilted, even when someone in the audience shouted, “Fuck you Flipper!”

More hardcore tracks ‘Ha Ha Ha’, ‘Hard Cold Old World‘ and ‘Get Away’ picked up the tempo against the drudgy crawl of ‘Sacrifice’ and ‘The Way of The World’, arguably some of their most distinguished songs. They finished on ‘Sex Bomb’ with Rachel interchanging with Bruce to scream out the lyric, “She’s a sex bomb my baby, yeah!” The core relationship between vocals and bass that has always been a part of Flipper is still a patented fabric of its existence. Flipper remains a compound of noise rock and heavy hardcore flashes, its sonic DNA is a mark of its West Coast upbringing, and its influence as a band before its time has gone further to shape those in its wake, be it musician or mere mortal.

10/04/12: Flipper @ XOYO, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.