If you want a review that tells you what was played and in what order, look elsewhere. If you want a review that tells you which guitar was used and what effects pedals were pressed, ask the guys who were taking photos of all these things at the end of the gig after the band had left the stage. If you want a review that simply tells you to get off your lazy ass and experience the best live set I have seen in five years, then this is for you.
I have to confess to being slightly concerned when a lectern appears on stage. I still have recurring nightmares of Lou Reed mumbling words from a lectern whilst Metallica tried to humour the curmudgeon by pretending they loved The Velvet Underground all along. It was a fucking racket and Lou was tied to that lectern like the whiplash girl child he wrote about decades before. Thurston Moore is as much into the sonic possibilities of a guitar as the Metal Machine Man himself. The opening song begins with five minutes of gently teasing ambient notes to the extent you are never sure whether he is tuning up or toying with sonic frequencies. When he is satisfied, he launches into a ferocious riff which his superb band complement. I would estimate the opening song to be between fifteen and twenty minutes long but who cares: by the midpoint I am grinning like a loon knowing that this sonic Bedlam is the place for me. It’s not until the second number I suddenly realise the bass which is reverberating throughout my body (this gig is LOUD) is being played by Deb Googe of My Bloody Valentine. It’s only midway through the gig I realise the drums are being played by Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth. You see, dear reader, I am ignorant, so ignorant I am sure I should know the second guitarist but, alas, do not. All I can tell you is he complements the delicacy and assault of Moore’s guitar heroics perfectly. This is a band so tight James Brown would never be fining a single member. There isn’t a set list taped to the floor for the band. They fucking know this set backwards. I can’t remember a band this tight since, well, Sonic Youth in their prime. I have no idea what blackmailable material Thurston Moore has over them but, suffice to say, the way they played tonight, it will never surface. Cocteau Twins, contempories of Sonic Youth (and by all accounts equally as loud) used to be cited as ‘great shagging music.’ I couldn’t possibly comment but Thurston Moore’s music tonight is like the greatest sex you can have – building and building and building until that orgasmic release.
At one point tonight a wag from the audience asks if the band know any Abba. The response from Moore is as laconic as you would expect. “Yeah we do actually but don’t know how to play it.” He lied. This is high calibre pop music – sonic pop music.