Touring with Roy Harper #3: I’ll See You Again

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A perfect late summer day welcomed us to London’s vibrant South Bank for the gig at the Royal Festival Hall. The artists’ entrance is hidden away at the back of the building, and backstage has the atmosphere of a library, a studious refuge from the circus of noise issuing forth from the food stalls and street entertainment outside. The walls are lined with framed photos of musical legends from the jazz and classical genres,  peering down at you over their glasses in quiet contemplation as you pass.  The dressing rooms have upright pianos, heavy soundproof doors, trouser presses, showers and lightbulbs around the mirrors, reminding you that this is a place where world-class classical performance goes down.  No pressure then.  I bumped into Roy in the corridor, pacing about a bit, trying to settle himself down into the right frame of mind for a big London gig, gearing up for the big fight.

The concert stage at the RFH is both familiar and daunting. I have played there many times, most memorably with Vashti Bunyan when she performed for the first time in thirty-five years. It was so quiet onstage I could hear my heartbeat. I think I could hear hers too. She was terrified. We were all terrified, myself, Adem and Kieren Hebden, trying not to let it show.  Despite all this, it went well, which is what you have to remember when you’re in the grip of terror.  I was much less nervous for Roy’s gig because we had a few good performances under our belt, but there were still events occurring beyond our control.  Unfortunately a family medical emergency meant that our french horn player had to pull out of the gig, so we rehearsed a dep in at soundcheck.  Session musicians are amazing creatures.  Imagine getting a phone call on Monday morning “Hi mate I can’t make the RFH gig tonight, can you do it?  It’s solo. Yeah. Roy Harper. The music will be on the stand.  Black casual. Good luck”.    We rehearsed the relevant songs until everyone was comfortable, then we scattered off to get fed and watered.

I went to the green room to grab a beer five minutes before the show and encountered Jimmy Page loitering by the crisps.  Did I say I wasn’t nervous?  Now I was.  We took our seats on stage.  A violinist colleague once described working with Roy and his music as “herding butterflies”, which is exactly what it feels like, trying to anticipate exactly where his delicate downstroke might fall, and Roy was definitely a bit more nervy than usual at this gig, picking up the wrong guitar at one point, and fluffing a couple of lyrics.  It felt a lot more like hard work than Manchester, but the music prevailed and the songs rang out. Roy sang incredibly well.  There was perfect rage and venom in “The Hangman”, supported by Bill Shanley on guitar and Beth Symmons on bass. “Cricketer” was particularly beautiful.  The audience was mesmerised and the reviews were great.

Planes, trains and automobiles were taken up to a sunny Edinburgh for the final performance on 17th Sept at the beautiful Usher Hall.  A more relaxed air flowed through the building, and the onstage sound was warm and welcoming from the minute we started to soundcheck.   We were all in celebratory mood because it was the last gig of the run, and Roy was on fine form, having successfully fought off a migraine with a pie.  When the time came we took to the stage feeling good.   The Usher Hall is the smallest and oldest of the venues, dating from 1914.  It has a more intimate, almost theatrical feel, with dark red velvet seats and several tiers of balconies.   Roy’s last gig there was in 1969.  I wasn’t born yet.  My violin was already 250 years old.   Time is strange. Or temporary.  Or irrelevant.

The hall’s acoustic is fantastic and the hecklers took full advantage of this. “Shut up and play a fucking song” was one of the less charming shouts of the tour.  “I will not bow to your pressure, sir”, said Roy, to rapturous applause and much laughter.   Then we played a song anyway.   Roy shared some personal history with the audience, explaining that he and Tracy got married in Edinburgh fifteen years ago and enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon at The Witchery.  “Overpriced” shouted another gruff punter, but warmth and support came from the majority of the crowd, and when we finished with “Cricketer” they stood and cheered for a long time.   It was a great night and a fitting close to a very special tour.   It has been an honour to perform with such an intelligent, sensitive and witty musician, whose talent enables him to express his poetry and general humanity with an honesty rarely witnessed these days.  The ensemble didn’t want the night to end and to prove it we were still drinking and dancing in Harry’s Cellar Bar at 3am.  We will go our separate ways for now, but you can catch Roy playing with Bill Shanley at St Lukes in Cork on 29th September, and I hope that some of us will be able to join him onstage again soon.

DOOMSQUAD announce UK/EU Tour in November

Canadian psychedelic, electronic dance quintet DOOMSQUAD are set to bring their desert party back to Europe this November with a run of live dates, including a headline show at London’s Waiting Room on 9th November:

Friday 4th November – Iceland Airwaves Festival
Tuesday 8th November – Café Video, Ghent, Belgium
Wednesday 9th November – The Waiting Room, London (tickets)
Thursday 10th November – Oakford Social Club, Reading
Sunday 13th November – The Old Pint Pot, Manchester

Monday 14th November – Komedia Studio, Brighton
Tuesday 15th November – Het Depot – Leuven, Belgium w/ Peaches (tickets)
Wednesday 16th November – Hafenklang, Hamburg, Germany (tickets)
Thursday 17th November – P8, Karlsruhe, Germany
Friday 18th November – TBC, Zurich, Switzerland
Saturday 19th November – TBC, Leipzig, Germany
Sunday 20th November – Urban Spree, Berlin, Germany
Tuesday 22nd November – Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wednesday 23rd November – Vera, Groningen, Netherlands

United by their love of rhythm and exploration, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve has also reworked Doomsquad’s Pyramids on Mars, listen below:

Having formed in 2012 siblings Trevor, Jaclyn, and Allie Blumas soon began to explore trance and electronic beat making. Their shared fascination with dance culture, rhythm, and the unknown, along with their lifelong immersion in the arts, began to manifest as a collective ethos. Before long, DOOMSQUAD had mushroomed into a full-scale art project.

Inspired by some of their favourite artists — Georges Bataille, Richard Tuttle, Tanya Tagaq, and Genesis P-Orridge — DOOMSQUAD travelled to the New Mexican desert to write and record Total Time, creating dark, pulsating beats interspersed with hypnotic, incantatory jams. Upon returning home the band continued to draw inspiration from the Toronto arts community, their friendships and connections led to some fortuitous collaborations, including one with Canadian avant-garde legend, Mary Margaret O’Hara, whose otherworldly vocals grace ‘The Very Large Array.’ The driving, dirty bass lines and analogue layers of effects come care of Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck), who produced and mixed the album.

The record features a number of other contributors: Mike Haliechuk of Fucked Up plays guitar. Industrial noise experimenter David Foster aka HUREN offers vocals on ‘Russian Gaze.’ Colin Fisher and Brandon Valdivia of free-jazz duo Not the Wind, Not the Flag bring instrumentals. And galactic twins Josh and Jesse Hasko, who perform as North America, are also a crucial part of Total Time and are now members of DOOMSQUAD’s live act.

Pavo Pavo share video for “Ran Ran Run”

Today Brooklyn experimental pop band Pavo Pavo—whose stunning debut album Young Narrator in the Breakers will be released on November 11th, 2016 through Bella Union—are pleased to share the video for track “Ran Ran Run” Via BULLETT

The video offers a striking and artful display of whimsy through a series of staged scenarios. It’s wondrous and aesthetic, an effortless compliment to the airy resonance of the track. Vocalist Eliza Bagg elaborates: “‘Ran Ran Run’ is a song about the joys and sorrows of growing up, the awareness of impermanence and change — “time is a hole in my waterbed”! In the video we pass through some kind of portal into a completely manufactured reality — a space that is intense but also playful, full of stark contrasts and extremes (of color, texture, mood). We’re somewhere between children and adults, literally dressing up, playing, play-acting, trying on the guises of who me might be. Actually a theme throughout this record is that the whole prospect of becoming an adult involves a little bit of fantasy — reaching for a possible world or possible self, and aiming for magic, for something over the top, fantastical.”

The band started writing together while studying music at Yale University and since then its members have worked closely with indie and classical heavyweights such as Here We Go Magic, John Zorn, Dave Longstreth, Porches, Olga Bell, Lucius, Roomful of Teeth, and San Fermin. Hailed by Stereogum as “weightless pop music that sounds like it was beamed down from a glimmering utopian future”, Pavo Pavo is a mind meld of five songwriters with a shared vision for creating new, expressive worlds of sound while using meticulous ears to evoke the feeling of bygone eras.

Pavo Pavo is Eliza Bagg on violin, synthesizers, and voice, Oliver Hill on guitars, synthesizers, and voice, Nolan Green on guitars and voice, Austin Vaughn on drums, and Ian Romer on bass. The group borrows its name from the southern constellation, Pavo, Latin for peacock – an elegant and spectacular link of cosmic dust.

Co-produced by Danny Molad (Lucius) and Sam Cohen (Yellowbirds, Apollo Sunshine), Pavo Pavo’s music moves with symphonic elegance. Guitar stabs, washed out harmonies, and rumbling synthesizers come and go like the tides of the ocean. The music on Young Narrator in the Breakers describes the magic and panic of adult life; a breaker is that wave whose potential energy is being transformed into turbulent kinetic energy.