Monday, November 20, 2006

Espers in Bristol

I was up in Bristol yesterday to see Espers at The Cube.

Arrived early enough to catch a manifestation of The Cube Orchestra (Ale, et al.'s improv collective) playing in drummer Richie's front room, as part of the Front Room Totterden Art Trail. A saxophonist called Nick Sorenson, quite majorly involved in the free improv scene, was playing with them, added a huge amount to an already impressive sound. They played an hour's set. Excellent drumming. The only other member I recognised was Barry, playing electric guitar, who was part of the crew I jammed with at the Sunrise Festival last summer. I had my saz with me, but wasn't intending to play - but Ale suggested I did. I declined the offer, as there were already enough players, and I had no amp. A next door neighbour present then went and got me his Roland MicroCube anyway, so I plugged in and played a bit of unintentionally overdriven saz during the last piece. I don't think it added a lot, but it was nice to be part of the event.

Also on display in the front room were some paintings by American artist Nekolina Griffin, and (on a loop) the video cut-up masterpiece Cutting Up My Friends by Cube collaborator Mr. Hopkinson.

Espers had sold out, I was troubled to find out, but by the time I'd come to accept this (Ale and I were planning to just meet up with Melski and have a music session), Melski got in touch to say she'd somehow got hold of the last three tickets...exellent news.

Espers - photo from
Espers - photo from

We missed the first act, caught Starless and Bible Black (a curious Mancunian trio with stylish French singer, tasteful acoustic guitar and far-out 70's analogue synth weirdness) who did an excellent rendition of Billy Childish's "The Bitter Cup", and a nu-country (or whatever) singer called Edith Frost. Espers were excellent, although a bit shy, and they didn't play "Rosemary Lane" or "Black is the Colour", which I would have loved to have hear...The set leaned more in the heavy direction, with excellent versions of "Dead Queen", etc., and the cellist just shredded throughout (I hadn't realised how many of the abrasive sounds on their records were made by a cello)! They expressed their heartfelt appreciation for the appreciative, attentive audiences they were encountering in the UK and Europe, something they're not used to in the States, and clearly were very happy with The Cube as a venue, so there was a very warm, contented feeling coming from the stage.


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