I don’t get out to see many gigs these days, what with kids and generally being a bit of an old fart, so when I do I really hope I’ll end up seeing something extraordinary that will transport me and make me feel alive. Last Night I did.
I’d not been to Blade Factory before, basically it was a small gallery-like space with great sound, hidden away in an area that, last time I looked, was all run-down warehouses and dodgy transactions in cars. First band on Plank! were good, a more metallic version of Tortoise they were good musicians and until they started to hit a keyboard seemingly filled with annoying 80’s parping noises, I thought they were excellent. Liverpool’s own celebrated space rockers Mugstar were up next, which is when I found out that the pleasant chap I’d chatted to earlier was their guitarist. Mugstar were a real step up in quality from the openers and they played a good, riff heavy grooving space rock. They were all excellent musicians and I thought their drummer was particularly so. I need to get hold of some of their vinyl pronto and I’d go see them again like a shot. All three bands had excellent sound and really cool projected lightshows.
I positioned myself front and centre for White Hills, but then I would you see, because by that time I was in love. Madly, head-over-heels space-rock-smitten with/by Ego Sensation, who is as well as being a brilliant, fearsome hot-pants wearing bassist of renown, 50% of the headliners (who actually played as a trio last night with drummer Nick Name), a talented visual arts personage, all-round hot chick, blameless object of my largest rock/pop star crush since Alison Goldfrapp and really rather friendly and nice. I know this because she was selling the band’s merchandise between sets and I went and bothered her. Luckily I had too much self control (just) to blurt out, ‘I’ve just left my wife by text so you and I can be together for ever, my car is outside!’, but it was a close run thing. Instead I told her just how much I loved H-P1 and asked if they would be playing much off it. She told me they varied the set and only decided exactly what they would play just before they went on, but I was sure to hear something from H-P1. Ego (I think I know her well enough now to be on first name terms – I’d let her call me 15) also told me that they tour for about 3/4 months a year in short bursts and they were heading off on a tour of the States next*. I bought a cool signed poster and pink vinyl copy of Gnod Drop Out With White Hills II** from her too. Obviously I didn’t mention that I was in fact the 1537, author of a blog that quite literally upwards of 8 people read every day – I wouldn’t have wanted to put that kind of pressure on the band before a gig, it would not have been fair.
It was a good job that I had a big metal pillar to lean against (about 5 foot in front of the stage, believe it or not) because right from the opening drum beats White Hills just blasted us into the stratosphere. Even over this short span of time I’m afraid tracks merge and twist in my poor, limited brain but what I remember thinking throughout the whole gig was just what brilliant musicians all three were and the spacey, psychedelic visuals just rocked. Dave W was sporting a whiplash thin rock star physique, Alice Cooper’s eye makeup and the coolest shirt I’d seen for a very long time. Amongst other bits of greatness we got, ‘Condition of Nothing’, possibly ‘You Dream You See’ and ‘Pads of Light’ from Frying on This Rock, but it was difficult to tell, I just eased myself into the flow rather than stood there making mental notes.
We were treated to an absolutely titanic version of ‘H-P1’ and I withdraw any criticism I may ever have made of this track previously, it was just immense and I found I knew every word. White Hills, on the evidence of last night, just make the decision to go for the throat live; this was a heavy, heavy gig – spacey jams were mostly left behind at the door and they really showcased their rock chops at absolutely punishing volume, I could feel my metal pillar pulsing^. ‘H-P1’ sounded exactly how a 21st century Sabbath should sound. After a brief respite of a few minutes we were treated to ‘Upon Arrival’ as the encore – if any footage of the audience exists from last night then I have no doubt it would show me levitating with joy at that precise point. What can I say? it is simply one of my favourite rock tracks from anyone in the last three years, or so and to hear it played faster and sharper last night made me a very, very happy space piggy indeed. Dave W just played the absolute shit out of the solo, after teasingly make us wait what seemed an eternity for it first. It was a perfect finish to a great set!
Straight after the set finished my new heart throb wallked through the audience and did another stint on the merch, I collected my goodies from her (she remembered what I’d brought!), thanked her for playing ‘Upon Arrival’, told her to come back to Liverpool again soon and went home to Mrs 1537, a very happy man. Very unselfishly I woke Mrs 1537 up at 1.15 to tell her what a great gig it had been and how close I had been to running off with a space rock goddess, she wasn’t at all thankful. Huh, wives!
*Chicago, June 5th, Mr Hubner.
**my feelings for this record are not very platonic either.
^fuelled only by two cans of Red Stripe, this wasn’t a guitar-induced hallucination, it was physics.