Last night I attended the first gig of what is looking to be a busy autumn period for gigs. It was also my first gig at the new-ish Carling Academy, albeit in the smaller Academy 2. And before I get onto the gig, a few observations on the venue. It’s been open for less than six months, and already the carpeted dancefloor (!) is unpleasantly sticky. Add to that the astronomical bar prices (£1.65 for a half-pint of coke, and £3.50 for a vodka and coke), and the additional charges on the tickets for just about anything (hence why I buy tickets for there, in cash, from the box office), and it’s not a great first impression.
When I got into the pretty warm, and impressively busy, venue, second support Flatlands were already well into their set of long, rambling songs heavily influenced by Neurosis, ISIS and Pelican. All technically impressive, and well performed, but after the third ten minute track I was bored out of my mind.
Thank god for 65Daysofstatic, then. Invited to play tonight by the headliners (over the years TMD have always supported 65DoS!), they only had time for a 30 minute set. This was the first time in probably two years that I’ve seen 65DoS, and they haven’t lost an inch of their power live. Opening with a brand new (and presumably untitled) song, that appeared to be continuing their increasing flirtation with electronic elements alongside their more usual “post-rock” sound, it was then straight into a much heavier-than-the-album version of A Failsafe, and then the first occasion of the night for jaws to drop through the floor with the euphoric heights of the Mogwai-esque Retreat, Retreat. Really, as the sample in the track goes, this band is unstoppable.
By this point, we were only fifteen minutes in – so cue a quick speech thanking TMD, and some quick political comment, goodbyes (!) and then it was straight into the impossibly beautiful Radio Protector, which was stretched and extended into a glitch-techno freak-out that finished in a storm of drumming and feedback. This band remain one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and seemingly get better and better each time I see them. And on the basis of the new track, maybe, just maybe, the fourth album may be better than the sketchy third album. Don’t let the decline in perceived quality of the albums deceive you, though – if you get the chance to see them live, go.
The question after that short set, though, was quite how The Mirimar Disaster were going to follow that. They did pretty well – the night being the album launch night, in front of their home crowd, meant that it had the feel of something of a celebration, at least at points. It does seem a bit strange seeing the band without old lead singer Ian Stockdale, though, who left shortly after the first album was released.
Not that this was noticed, for the first song at least – as new track Control. Alter. Delete bulldozed through the venue, with the guitarist who has stepped up as the new vocalist looking perfectly at home in front of the mic. In addition, this track (the heaviest I’ve ever heard them) bore a striking resemblance to Mastodon somewhere in my head.
The near-hour-long set managed just five songs, as TMD stretched out their already lengthy tracks to the limit, but perhaps the most interesting and notable thing was that no vocals were added to the two old tracks played – Persius in particular sounded very odd indeed without the vocals. As a tip of the hat to the present ex-vocalist, it was perhaps notable – but I’m really not convinced this totally works.
Still, otherwise the band have moved on, and developed well – and the positive press coverage they have received for the new mini-album Volumes happily reflects this. The new mini-album is a step-up, and these look to be good times for the band.