gig

So did you enjoy it then?

Report from Melody Maker, 20 April 1991:

808 State/N-Joi
Brixton Academy, London

808 State

WHAT I would like to see one of these days is one of these purposely-built dance bands cutting free and going full out for it. Hell, heaven knows rock is dead now and all that, and 808 State put on about the best stage show I’ve seen since that delirium opus from Madonna last Autumn, but both 808 and N-Joi are still too rooted in rock tradition, too hidebound by the conventions of the last four decades to attain mythical status yet.

Both bands (collectives? No. And that’s somewhere else they fall astray- I mean, those other chaps you have in your gang may be great blokes and all that, Graham, but aren’t they somewhat limiting?) still resort to the tired old mannerisms of having someone front them. Sure, I love it when that guy waggles his fan round his and, boy, aren’t those keyboard players sexy when they punch the air and blow their klaxons between each segment, but is it really necessary? Aside from such distractions, both the stage-shows of N-Joi (lasers – bright green ones, which splatter their name all over the Academy’s front) and 808 State (lasers – banks and banks of them through which Massey and Pricey stride as if through fields of corn; crystal balls used to scatter effect; cumulus cloudbanks of smoke) are truly hypnotic, the music likewise. And what’s worse is they bring guests on to sing.

Why? The mesmerising pulse and repetitive drone of “Nephatiti” is enough to induce instant paralysis in 95 per cent of the jubilant revellers here, the sensual sweep of the synths on “San Francisco”, by rights, should stop the world in its tracks. Show me just one rock band who’ve ever released three such diversely brilliant singles in a row as “Cubik”, “In Yer Face” and “Ooops” and I’ll show you my resignation (done!-Ed).

So why spoil the effect by introducing human bluster and male braggadocio halfway through the set in the shape of the intensely annoying MC Tunes? I mean, “Tunes Splits The Atom” and “The Only Rhyme That Bites” are certainly wicked tunes, man, but MC Tunes seems determined to fill in every last space of 808’s stroppy backbeat with pointless verbiage impossible to hear. Surely it’s these very spaces and jerky electro-pulses which give 808’s sound its allure? And what’s all this crap air-punching? The KLF is one thing, but this brings to mind no one so much as U2.

N-Joi

Likewise, with N-Joi. Often they’re very stunning indeed – big, chunky-knit rhythms, gaps you could lead a camel through, but when they introduce she-who-sings-just-like-her-out-of-Black-Box to sing their two chart hits, “Anthem” and “Adrenalin”, plus that other one whose title escapes me right now but sounds identical, they lose it completely and the revelling pretty much stops. And also, unlike 808, they don’t innovate, they merely follow. Otherwise, I see no evidence to refute Paul Lester’s rather grandiose claim that 808 State are now bigger than Jesus. Worship certainly falls their way; whistles blaring, teeth gnashing, everyone lazily wagging their bums and lifting an arm every other second -all those accolades the kids lavish only on those they love the most. The set passed as if in a trance- one-and-a-half hours becomes 90 seconds – and the insistent beat never ceases.

And everyone was participating, raving, dancing till six in the morning! Beat that, you tired old thing called rock’n’roll, you.

EVERETT TRUE

Jesus Jones Pop Will Eat Itself And The Wonder Stuff 19th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire

Jesus Jones Pop Will Eat Itself And The Wonder Stuff 19th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire
We’ve been asked a few times why we feature indie music on this site. Although it’s mainly about house hardcore and techno oldskool you’ll see we have a specific indie tab on the main navigation as well. The reason is simple – there was a pretty big cross over in music tastes as well as styles, especially in 1991 and 1992. We know plenty of indie kids who also went to raves, plus everyone had a copy of cross over albums such as Screamadelica and Chill Out. We also know plenty of people who were indie kids in 91 and 92 and were to be found at The Ministry, Basics and others a few years later. We were very lucky to have had two such strong genres emerge into the mainstay at practically the same time. So although we love Carl Cox, Sasha, Loftgroover and N-Joi, we were also stage diving to PWEI. If you look through any copy of Melody Maker (RIP) or NME from the early 90’s, as well as their dance music sections you’ll also see album and live reviews of dance groups, and even some of the big raves. Groups such as EMF, PWEI and Jesus Jones all used dance music as staples in their own music so we cover them here.

Jesus Jones 20th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire

Jesus Jones 20th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire

And on that point last night Jesus Jones opened the Sleigh the UK tour at the Shepherds Bush Empire. We’d never seen them before although we like their first two albums Doubt and Liquidizer. Both the Wonder Stuff and Jesus Jones were outnumbered in the t-shirt wars by PWEI but by the end of their 40 minute set they had got quite a few people dancing. Not classic indie gig moshing, but definitely moving. Despite all being 40 plus their energy and enthusiasm was obvious, real stagecraft. Many other bands who look bored should take note (including later the guitarist from the Wonder Stuff). Good rapport with the crowd, and throwing instruments around (especially the keyboard) – just as it should be. Real Real Real, International Bright Young Thing, Info Freako and more were all given an airing. They even played Zeroes and Ones, although sadly not the legendary Prodigy Remix . We’d definitely be up for seeing Jesus Jones again. In many ways they were badly marketed, in a similar way to EMF, with the fun and energy overshadowing the decent tunes. When the initial euphoria did away they became deeply unfashionable, which in hindsight was unfair. Their cartoony image, with the glove hats, shorts and primary colours were all very 1990 but on this evidence they had plenty more to give.
Pop Will Eat Itself were always our favourite indie band. After splitting up in 1996, and a couple of Reformation gigs in 2005, they resurfaced in 2011 with only 1 original member – Graham Crabb. We didn’t go to the first of their new tours, so were a little nervous about tonight. Their new material is a slow burn despite being very punky – give it a whirl here . However the PWEI faithful were out in force. This shouldn’t be a surprise with active forums such as PWEInation still around. For some of the PWEI back story read ex member Adam Moles amusing anecdotes as he tries to sell off his memorabilia to fund a new camper van. Personally we were very impressed with seeing both several of the legendary PWEI Club Mondiale t shirts, one of which recently sold for £350 on eBay, and a Very Metal Noise Pollution T shirt from the 1989 tour.

PWEI 20th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire

PWEI 20th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire

They opened with Search and Destroy from the new album then it was straight into 3 classics and the mosh pit was in full force. Perhaps it was the fact that there was a little more room than normal, or the 2 blokes in particular who were hammered, but we can’t remember seeing such violent mosh pit back in the day. Two lads almost came to blows, there was a lot of pushing and grabbing but it just about settled peacefully, and there was even an old skool twirling round dance we haven’t seen in years. The music psyched the crowd up, it was full on aggressive poging. It was brilliant. The new MC alongside Graham may look like a PE teacher but he knew both the words and how to hype the crowd. The other new band members looked like PWEI veterans and overall it was very tight. Highlight? Probably Their Law, from PWEI Mark 1 originally with the Prodigy, Graham even crowd surfed, no mean feat for a man of his years ;-).

Some of the more genteel Wonder Stuff fans looked horrified by both the crowd and the music, which is just as it should be. We are looking forward to more from PWEI both on the road and in the studio.
The Wonder Stuff were supposedly headliners, but PWEI had won both the t shirt war and the biggest crowd approval, so they were always on the back foot. Starting with the latest single is always a risk. As already mentioned the guitarist looked bored, and although PWEI have proved that new members can be a success, we weren’t convinced by the new violinist. In fact it reminded us why we always preferred listening to the Wonder Stuff at home in short bursts rather than live, although we do have a vague collection of seeing them 3 nights in a row back in 1991. The crowd sang along, although the mosh pit was much safer. We left when Size of a Cow came on.
Sleigh the UK continues at various venues around the UK this week, and is already taking bookings for next year. We will see you there.