Having been to an excellent gig at one of my favourite venues just the night before, it was evident that the bands appearing at The Anvil’s psych night were going to have their work cut out if they were going to make an impact following on from that, especially given that my memories of the venue in a former life were somewhat less than favourable.
Indeed, having met our friends and descended the stairs into the dingy basement I wondered if we were going to get a replay of the claustrophobic Robots In Disguise show where the low ceilings and restricted views severely cramped the band’s exuberant and outgoing style to the point where I swore I’d never return there.
However, despite a healthy turnout for the first support band Acid Valley Nomads, the room seemed bigger and I suspect that a duct that once crossed in front of the stage had been removed, affording a better view of the band and thereby opening up performance area if only in the psychological sense.
Acid Valley Nomads turned out to be an excellent local band who played punchy garage rock with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll that occasionally put me in mind of Fat White Family in terms of their sound. As support bands go I felt that they were of the highest order and that I would happily go and see them headlining, which set bar high for the next band onstage, Ouzo Bazooka.
Ouzo Bazooka hailed from Tel Aviv, and took to the stage wearing robes adorned with beads and icons that were entirely in keeping with their upbeat Mediterranean prog/psych sound that put me in mind of Goat and, to a lesser extent, Aphrodite’s Child.
The stand out element of the performance was definitely the wailing, droning keyboards of [name], along with the slightly manic drumming style of [name], whose quizzically amused expression frequently had me grinning along with him. The lead guitar and vocals were stylishly delivered by [name]
For the uninitiated Os Noctambulos are the Paris-based garage rock band fronted by Nick Wheeldon, whose sound incorporates psych, surf and country rock. I remember thinking what a curious and seemingly mismatched bunch they appeared to be when I first saw them at Liverpool Psych Fest three years ago. Those thoughts were not so much dispelled as shattered by the band’s upbeat and attacking style, with Nick (rhythm guitar and vocals) and Valentin (lead guitar) barely restrained by the rhythm section Coline (bass) and Baldo (drums).
Tonight Nick was initially to be found watching both the support bands from the front row, and it was really nice to chat about 39th & The Nortons, Os Noctambulos and the scene in general in between performances. He is a friendly, quietly-spoken chap and the contrast between his persona on and off stage was quite remarkable.
And once again Coline’s confident, controlled bass and Baldo’s studiously compact and deceptively powerful drumming kept the guitarists in check, with Coline often looking beatifically off to the corner of the room as the boys let rip with infectious wailing, penetrating riffs and Baldo studiously thumped his kit in a powerful but compact manner.
As you can probably imagine this was all pretty intense so it was nice when Baldo theatrically stepped out from behind his drums to fix a dodgy monitor, and Coline took a pragmatic step to her left along with her mic stand to avoid Valentin’s eratically swinging guitar neck, as the music took control and he surrendered to it, playing fiercely and adding a dangerous, anarchic layer to every song on stage right.
Over on stage left Nick moved between his mic and his amp, passionately pouring out his songs of displacement, isolation and despair to us, or alternatively absorbing the intense sound of his own guitar direct from the source.
And finally, speaking of the sound, it was uniformly excellent, at no point too loud to be enjoyed, but always loud enough to fill the room and convey the full power of the music without any distortion.
A terrific night!