Having said I don’t write gig reviews, I appear to be doing just that. But then again, some nights are so infused with magic, it would be remiss of me not to apply some words; the indie kids’ field trip to deepest, darkest Easterhouse, and the quorum of good company, delicious sounds and ripping performances – you can’t ask for too much more.
The Pastels are a special band. As twee as they are eternally ramshackle, the overriding sentiment is one of endearment; you can’t help but smile when you listen to them. They’ve been doing this sort of thing, with a rotating line-up, for near-on thirty years, yet still sound fresh and oh-so-relevant, their sound now bolstered by trumpet and flute but still focused upon the twin propulsion units of drummer Katrina Mitchell, and – standing at the edge of the stage like a fey and laconic ringleader – Stephen Pastel himself.
They’ve been in the studio of late, polishing off a new album (if ‘polishing’ is an appropriate description), and their set was slanted towards stuff soon to be released; further enchanting indie pop to add to their glittering back cat. But to finish – and wow, what a finish – the iconic ‘Baby Honey’, full-on and extended to the point where mass hypnotism was a genuine possibility.
Headline act – by way of Berlin and Düsseldorf – To Rococo Rot, and a confession: they’ve been around for over a decade, and yet only arrived on my radar as their opening chord reverberated around the auditorium. This is clearly and most definitely my loss; clever and infectious krautrock electro (“Grandchildren of Can”, to quote a comrade) that’s underpinned by a live bass/drum combination. This is important, as it’s no mere rhythm section there to dictate momentum. Rather, powerhouse percussion and unorthodox bass licks (that at times head towards lead guitar) add manifold layers of tribal texture to the bleeps and buzzes; a mesmerizing and infectious set list, part dexterous dance music, part Einstürzende Neubauten, and all of it utterly riveting.
I’ve invested a large portion of today listening to their back catalogue; it’s highly recommended that you do the same.
To Rococo Rot / Working Against Time