THE JIM JONES REVUE Ruby Lounge 9/10/13
October is usually the busiest month for gigs and this is certainly true in Manchester 2013. No need for some urban festival, I had my own four day live music extravaganza courtesy of entirely unrelated musical evenings at Ruby Lounge and Band on the Wall.
If the eleven bands I saw over those four nights all got into a fist fight its quite likely that the Jim Jones Revue would win. Fortunately that isn't what happened, they're too busy rockin' and rollin' and have the rock'n'roll gang style down. As such they were the perfect band for Ruby Lounge, a venue resembling a mafia strip club. They have the moves and they know they're cool. If your idea is musical heaven is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds playing toughened up Jerry Lee Lewis covers then the Jim Jones Revue are a band to die for. I wouldn't go that far but I admire their showmanship and Jim Jones' good humour, tempering the machismo of many of their songs. The main set consisted of nearly every song from their most recent and best album "The Savage Heart" (produced by Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos), the most memorable being the percussive "Seven Times Around the Sun" where Jim and the other two guitarists abandoned their axes in favour of shakers. After the fifties dream ballad "Midnight Oceans and the Savage Heart" which was as close as they came to mellowing out, they were off to towel off some sweat and swig some beer before returning for some singalong requests that had many clapping along, including "Fish 2 Fry," "Shoot First" and "High Horse."
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE Band on the Wall 10/10/13
Cleft are a duo playing drums and and guitar who must surely be heavily influenced by Don Caballero. The bespectacled guitarist pulled the Jon Nash Cowtown / Devo stance and often looped his pickings with a pedal to multi-track the guitar, which made up for their lack of bassist. As a support to Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO they were a pleasant warm up, not that guitarist Makoto Kawabata needs any help raising the temparature with hi pyrotechnic guitar slinging. That's slinging quite literally, as he hurled his guitar and up onto his overdriven Marshall amp to end several cosmic trip-outs with short bursts of feedback. The current five man line up has been stable for a few tours now and this shows in how they seem to unbelievably get better each time around. Co-founder Hiroshi Higashi was there playing keyboards of course, alongside Mitsuru Tabata on guitar, Atsushi Tsuyama on bass and Koji Shimura drumming. Tunes from their new album "In Search of the Lost Divine Arc" built to ecstatic crescendos. Their eternal standard "Pink Lady Lemonade" popped up a couple of times, first time mellow and hypnotic, second time around with Kawabata unleashing his most fiery soloing of the evening."Space Seed Suicide" is a propulsive instrumental that conjures the image of an asteroid hurtling into a sun.
MUGSTAR / HAWKLORDS Band on the Wall 11/10/13
Mugstar, in the same venue the next evening, played a set propelled by similar momentum albeit with less abandoned chaos than Acid Mothers Temple. "Ouroboros" recalls a rocket ship rather than an asteroid, with keyboardist / guitarist Pete Smyth yelling with the horrified glee of a man on a rollercoaster ride to destruction who has just had a dose of universal infinity that has blown his mind. Luckily it didn't blow his keyboard, as happened at their Gullivers John Peel day gig. They were back to their regular four piece formation following a trio performance at Leeds Brudenell Social Club psychedelic all dayer, which allowed Pete the freedom to go a bit wild on guitar, especially on the last number "Bethany Heart Star"which took them closer to Hawkwind than I've ever heard them before. Maybe that could have been a side effect of supporting Hawklords? Pete often switches from guitar to keyboards mid-song, as on the opening track "Sunburnt Impedance Machine." With so much t do it's no wonder he huffs and puffs like the little bad wolf trying to blow the three big pigs' house down. It's funny that despite the fact I've seen Mugstar play more gigs than almost any other British band, I'd never before noticed that Jason Stoll strums the bass Lou Barlow / Dinosaur Jr style, all four strings at once just like a regular guitar. He makes it look so effortless, as does drummer Steve Ashton whose floor tom / bass drum tribalism on "Black Fountain" was so heavy I had to retreat from the stage. Thankfully they didn't crank up the volume to the punishing level they played their previous Manchester gig at Soup Kitchen, and made a few new fans. Later a minor synchronicity kicked in as Hawklords sang, "We are wise to the rhythm of the drum," I turned around to see Steve Ashton, Mugstar drummer standing just behind me.