Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boot Lagoon + Zoo For You in Whitstable

The East Quay, Whitstable, 27 December 2010

An appropriately excellent end to an excellent year of music.

It's been a bit too icy for cycling, so I got the bus in to Whitstable, got chips and wandered along the beach to The Neptune. I wasn't expecting anything, it being a Monday night, but I'd forgotten that it was a bank holiday. There was music coming from the pub — rock'n'roll and R&B standards, Beatles, Stones, all played and sung exceedingly well...at one point the whole pub was singing "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" — proper Whitstablian seasonal cheer! Only at the end was it announced that half of this duo was Jim Leverton (who I can only imagine is the Jim Leverton who's been the bass player in Caravan since the mid-90's). Joel from Syd Arthur was down there, along with his dad — they'd been out celebrating younger brother Josh's 21st birthday (Josh being drummer in Zoo For You). We talked about the death of Captain Beefheart, the ever-evolving saga of the "coming soon" debut Syd Arthur album, and about the big changes going on with Furthur Productions and plans for the future (of which you'll no doubt find out more here at some point).

Joel's been playing bass with the Happy Accidents lately — this is a quirky local band who've been going since the 80's, involving both Graham Flight and Brian Hopper (former Wilde Flowers). He mentioned that Brian Hopper's taken an interest in my Canterbury Soundwaves podcast, suggested a willingness to do some kind of guest slot/chat/interview...that would be nice.

Speaking of Beefheart, this was the first thing I put on when I heard the news, my favourite track off Trout Mask Replica:

Joel also mentioned that The Boot Lagoon were supporting Zoo (the first I'd heard of it), and that the two bands (plus he and Liam) were planning a finale of the Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless", that mighty piece from Remain in Light. I carried on down the seafront to the East Quay, not wanting to miss anything. Nice to see some of the Furthur crew and entourage who I'd not seen since the summer. There was also a small Deal contingent there, with Nicola and Bill from Cocos Lovers plus a couple of others.

The Boot were excellent once more. They're audibly relaxing into their sound, and despite the precision and tightness of the playing, there was something less mathematical and more soulful about it all. Their set (which tends to flow from one piece to another in the Canterbury tradition) just seemed to pour out of them. There were also a couple of pieces augmented by a tenor sax player (I couldn't see too well from where I was, but I think it was one of the Zoo horns). But where's that heavy fuzz bass sound gone?? Bring it back, Cameron!

I wasn't quite sure about Zoo For You's set at LOTF this summer — great party music, but I felt that it was at the risk of losing some of the abstract depth I remembered from the band's earlier days. This time they seemed to get it just right. Still great party music, raw, funky, edgy and yet DEEEP. Saxophonist/frontman Bruno led three cheers for Beefheart (no covers attempted, that would probably be a bit too much to expect at such short notice). And I'm starting to really like the song "Leaf"...

And the finale was indeed mighty: all of ZFY, most of TBL, half of Syd, plus Dawson from Furthur on cowbell and numerous girlfriends on stage. Anything involving so many people on such a small stage would normally be a bit of a mess (however much fun), but we got a surprisingly tight, coherent, exploratory and really quite transcendent "Crosseyed and Painless" which seemed like the perfect thing for this band to be playing. Their sound had brought the Talking Heads to mind in the past, but somehow hearing this made further sense of where they're coming from to me.

Did anyone record this?? Please get in touch if so — I want a copy!


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