Mark Gardener, formerly of seminal 90’s band Ride and playing a mixture of old and new material, is donning a twelve-string acoustic to an attentive crowd.
It’s no hunch that a fair portion of the audience knows the catalogue and Gardener does his best to meet expectations, albeit without a band that is needed to drive the songs home.
The sound is tinny from the twelve strings and at some points the numbers suffer from the lack of variety and dynamic known in these songs.
Above all this though, he still shows just why the music he makes is well loved, his voice well maintained over the years, and who can say no to a great performance of ‘Vapour Trails’?
His new songs sound promising too and if he can get a band behind him we’ll be seeing more of him soon.
I can only suspect that the opener has been personally invited out to play some dates, and the night has a certain hurrah to those heady years of the 90’s, some being treated with a chance having never seen it themselves, myself included.
I never got to see Sonic Youth, and the prospect of seeing Debbie Goodge (of MBV otherworldliness), Thurston Moore back again with Steve Shelley, alongside James Sedwards of Nᴓught, is an anticipating prospect.
It’s not long before the band comes out and it’s straight into a cut from Moore’s very recent release The Best Day, the crashing and surging ‘Forevermore’.
Having not heard the album (largely due to an internet winter), I’m immediately hooked, and all the elements one could imagine from this rhythmic cosmic pairing beforehand are actualised pretty quickly.
Goodge’s big, thundering bass chords twine with the virtuoso playing by Shelley all adding to the sprawling march.
Here over this whirl, we make out ever so slightly foreboding lyrics, that under slight examination could read quite type with all the subsequent press pertaining to the marital separation of the accused (I kid, I kid), but all spirits seem to be jovial tonight, Moore making good talk with the crowd and as the set goes on I find myself particularly honed in on Sedward’s sharp and crafted guitar, his style adding to the overall drive of the songs.
The racket of ‘Germ Warfare’ appeals to my more personal affection for this side of Moore’s songwriting: loud, fast and harking straight out of the record collection of a hardcore punk fanatic, it reminds of his previous outing Chelsea Light Moving, but also raises a chuckle at the blatant homage in the title, referencing one of punk’s most notorious pioneer bands.
The overall sound, touched by little variants of experimental workings, mostly in dynamic and structure, recall Youth on Washing Machine.
It’s obviously hard not to make comparisons (especially with the accompaniment of Shelley), but there is a sense of a new direction, it may not be a million light years away from the band he spent the majority of his life playing in, but that’s only expected.
Judging from the shrewd recruitment and the impressive and solid performance, I’d say we should be expecting to see a lot more in terms of output as Moore pursues his personal vision, and I’m left leaving excited and curious to see what the statesman produces next.
Words: Matthew Thomas
Photos: Warrick Beyers