Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I copped a sly earful from a friend yesterday telling me that this blog is slowly turning into a mouthpiece for my workplace, so I'll try to hold back on the advertising for a bit. I have but one excuse: 90% of the music I have been exposed to in the last year has been work related. I live in a shell, a nice musical shell, and with music coming at me from all angles, I tend to filter out most of it, instead concentrating on what is shoved in my face on a daily basis. So... I'll quickly say that I have absolutely no relation to The Necks whatsoever except for the fact that I have enjoyed their last three studio albums so immensely (that's Aether, Drive-By and Mosquito/See Through) I brought it upon myself to see them play live at the Corner Hotel a few weeks back, the first time I'd seen them in almost a decade. It was the finest thing I've witnessed since Wire blazed through here a year or two back. It may even have been better.

Two sets: the first ebbed and flowed for roughly half an hour, carried mainly by Chris Abrahams' absurdly frenetic piano playing. I was disappointed to see when I arrived that there was only an acoustic piano on stage. Like, where's the wacky keyboard set-up which will replicate all the weird space-rock nonsense from the last few CDs? I was expecting a mammoth multi-synth layout of Rick Wakeman proportions, but was not let down by the boggling display of RSI-inducing madness from his fingers. That's a solid 45-50 minutes which would not let up. So dexterous was Abrahams' noodlings you could see the look on every crowd member's face: how the fuck does he do it? When does he cramp up? The results were sublime, hypnotic and surreal. The Necks ca. the late '90s were good, real good, but never this - dare I say - HEAVY. By the time the trio hit their stride for the last 20 minutes of the first set they'd reached Black Sabbath/Slayer levels of fist-shaking righteousness and head-slamming heaviosity. I seriously considered starting a slam pit, but none of my friends would join in. We simply stood in awe as Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams and Lloyd Swanton bashed the absolute bejesus out of their respective instruments in perfect unison. Dare I be the one and only person to hail a band's set as the perfect combination of Cecil Taylor, Terry Riley and Black Sabbath? Buck, in a rare display of "rock"-style drumming, even went the full Bill Ward route of walloping crash cymbals and that classic kick/snare boom-ba-boom-ba-boom method every "stoner rock" band of the last 30 years has ripped off. When it ended - and it ended on the note to perfect silence - I felt I'd seen one of the best live outfits on earth play right in front of me. For me, that happens once every 3 or 4 years: Sonic Youth ca. 1989, Fugazi ca. 1991, Meat Puppets ca. 1992 (yeah, past their prime, but still great), Boredoms ca. 1997, Testicle Candy ca. 1999 (yeah, Testicle Candy at the Empress, fucking shit up), Love ca. 2003... and a bunch of other shit I forget.

The second set was briefer, more abstract and less 4/4-oriented, though no less inspired. I won't elaborate. I left gushing and blabbering at the mouth. It's two weeks later and I'm still blabbering. Worse still, you're reading me blabbering! Doesn't that say something?! That reaction to a show is so rare I care not to ponder it. When a band is that good, you just relish it. New album out soon, I'll be there the day it's out.

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