Live Review

Primavera Club, Barcelona, Thursday 24th November 2011

Try to imagine Camden Crawl curated along the lines of ATP…

Here at DIY, we like to think of ourselves as intrepid. You know, willing to go that extra mile to bring you, dear reader, the scoops, the goss, what’s hot, and what’s not. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. And that “job”, this time, involves four consecutive nights trailing the Primavera Club festival around Barcelona, watching (and shooting) some of the finest, most important independent and alternative music around. Lest you be confused, this is no mainstream, landfill indie lager-fuelled sing-a-long. No Sir, you won’t find the likes of Florence or The Ting Tings clogging up this schedule (although there does seem to be a surfeit of chiffon and polka dots). Instead, try to imagine Camden Crawl curated along the lines of ATP – indie indie, made by artists who couldn’t give a hoot about ad jingles or demographics.

In the interests of journalistic integrity, I should point out that its not really Day One, but Day Two. Sadly, the vicissitudes of modern life – and contemplating the insanity of five consecutive nights on the lash – meant that I missed the inauguration party. Which meant I missed Veronica Falls. So it was with mixed emotions that I lined up for JEFF The Brotherhood, chief among them “This better be fucking good”. Thankfully, Jake and Jamin Orrall didn’t disappoint. Scraping away at a three-stringed guitar routed through a bass amp, this was raucous garage punk-rock at its finest – hard, fast and primal. Their rather shabby aesthetic – sleeveless tee, making up the setlist as they went – belied some razor sharp musicianship, something not derailed by Jake playing half a song in the crowd, or a broken string on closer ‘Heavy Days’. The formation of a moshpit and some very enthusiastic crowd-surfing added to the sense of mayhem, and left me convinced there may yet be some mileage left in stripped down guitar’n’drums combos.

Speaking of mileage left on the clock, we shuffled off to witness the Angry Old Men of The Pop Group put the world to rights one more time. Post-punk pioneers and forefathers of the Bristol Sound, they’re yet another bunch of “survivors” to jump of the reformation bandwagon. Now, far be it for me to criticise, but it’s not very punk to rely on a music stand full of print-outs of your lyrics, is it? What with guitarist Gareth Sager doing his best impression of someone trying to swat an invisible wasp, and bassist Dan Catsis wearing wraparounds and a baseball cap, it was a thoroughly surreal performance, not helped by singer Mark Stewart’s constant requests to “turn the fucking lights down on stage PLEASE!” Maybe his cataracts were playing up. “We’re All Prostitutes” was at least reminiscent of their heyday, but it simply served to highlight the paucity of everything else they did.

Did I say survivor? Look what we have here. Topping the bill tonight was none other than Lo-Fi Godfather and living legend R. Stevie Moore. Feted by the likes of Ariel Pink and Jack White, the words “prolific” and “eclectic” don’t even come close to describing his output over the years although interestingly, they perfectly describe his performance, which was by turns amazing, rambling, inspiring, and downright bizarre. Looking for all the world like an escaped mental patient – check out those mismatched, novelty pyjamas – he nonetheless held everyone in the palm of his hand, coaxing strange sounds and rhythms out of his guitar that, just occasionally, veered into genius. Truly, shambolic never looked so cool, especially during a 5 minute “rant” that culminated in a request to “Bring me the head of Jack White!” while “Act II” of the set saw Moore joined by a drummer and extra guitarist – surreally wearing nothing but a doctor’s lab coat – and a return to more standard fare, relatively speaking. Still, he made growing old disgracefully look like a lot of fun, and who doesn’t admire Grandad when he gets his boogie on at a wedding? Life is for living (except, of course, when it’s time for bed).

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