Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Zoo rock Wingham

The Anchor, Wingham, Kent
Saturday 9th February 2013

That evening, I was exhausted after a full day of physical work, but knew that this one would be worth the effort (even if it involved getting a train to the middle of nowhere and then cycling miles through freezing drizzle). Someone in Wingham's had the idea of turning the upstairs space above The Anchor pub (timber-framed, beautiful) into a sort of village arts centre, and this was them teaming up with the Smugglers Collective for the first of what may turn out to be many gigs there.


Deal's Kotchin and the King's Evil supported with their usual lively set, including another inspired freestyle from Ollie (a.k.a. MC Kotchin) — he's one of the rare ones who raps from his heart and sounds convincing. The place filled to capacity — friendly faces from both Canterbury and Deal, as well as a lot of locals, nice to see. Zoo For You were back down to their 2+1 horn section (Owen on tenor sax, Thom on trombone and Bruno occasionally switching from his mic duties to alto sax), sounding like a tighly wound spring. We got to hear a couple of new 'in development' pieces ("General Mountain" and what drummer Josh told me they'd been referring to as "the mad one") — very promising stuff...the former has quite a strong early 2000s "broken beat" thing going on with the rhythm, and latter is indeed pretty mad, sounding like it could evolve into the best thing they've come up with yet (twists your rhythmic perception in several directions at once but still manages to get the crowd dancing). Bruno apologised that they didn't have any more of their new material ready to perform, so the set was dominated by the familiar songs they've been playing for the last few years (and which dominate their criminally neglected debut album Fast Dance on a Nail). But no one was complaining, these are great songs, and have been polished to a point where they're now positively gleaming. I swear I left with more physical energy than I arrived with. Much respect to Will and everyone at Smugglers, as well as the Zoo themselves, for all the work that went into making this happen.

I got to talk to Owen beforehand. He'd driven down from Manchester (where he's currently based) for this, so I hope he enjoyed the experience as much as the rest of us did. He's been listening with great interest and enthusiasm to my Canterbury Soundwaves podcast series, was very keen to talk about the final episode (my day out with Daevid Allen), very complimentary about the way I'd edited it together. Podcasting can be quite lonely work, so it's always good to get this kind of feedback. He's one of the first of the current wave of Canterbury-linked musicians to express an interest in doing a guest mix for my forthcoming podcast series Canterbury Sans Frontières, so watch out for that. In the meantime, here's his music blog, The Pocket Trumpet.


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