Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mono, Stereo, Glasgow, Monday 23rd March 2009

After 10 years as a band and nearly 6 years of seemingly relentless international touring, including more visits to these Glasgow climes than you can shake a heartbreaking minor chord guitar arpeggio at, there are certain things one has come to expect from Japanese post-rock titans Mono, and, in front of an enraptured crowd, they certainly don't fail to deliver tonight. As John Peel used to say "it starts quietly, very quietly...", with guitarists Yoda and de-facto band leader Takaakira "Taka" Goto seated heads-bowed on either side of the stage, cradling their guitars over ranks of pedals, true shoegaze style. Still adhering to the quiet-loud dynamic so beloved of many a post-rock instrumentalist, Mono have it honed to a fine art, building epically from interweaving twin guitar lines and subtle bass and cymbal washes to gloriously soaring peaks of ear-shattering noise, complete with diminutive bassist Tamaki Kunishi rocking out centre stage and Taka's stool-toppling, feedback-soaked guitar histrionics. With a set aptly focusing on the cinematic new album 'Hymn To The Immortal Wind', released that very day, the only real disappointment is the lack of even a small string section, which leaves the new tracks feeling a bit empty in places, at least until the band really gets into its stride with a midway step back to earlier times via a rousing version of "Yearning" from the previous 'You Are There' long-player. Followed by a magnificent rendition of the current album's "The Battle To Heaven" and the beautiful "Halcyon (Beautiful Days)" before set and current album closer "Everlasting Light", new musical ground it may not be, but when you do it as well as Mono, that really doesn't seem to matter.

Photos of this gig available here.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Action Beat, Flying Duck, Glasgow, Thursday 26th February 2009

With a host of vigorous young musical oddness in support at this multi-headed underground extravaganza, it's nearly 2am by the time Action Beat make it to the central mini-amphitheatre that counts as a stage here at the Flying Duck. Even at such an ungodly hour, the proudly Bletchley-based multi-piece rock ensemble are certainly not lacking in energy and dedication to the instrumental art-rock cause. Playing tonight in a relatively stripped down 6-man incarnation consisting of 1 bassist, 2 drummers and 3 guitarists (though sadly lacking their occasional violin, trumpet and saxophone augmentation), they blaze through a set of balls-to-the-wall melodic riffage and high-intensity rock action. What they do may be simple, with a heavy debt to the discordant accessibility of early Sonic Youth and the massed instrumental rock orchestrations of Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, but there's no doubting that they play it like they mean it, broken strings, bleeding hands and all, and their passion and well-toured tightly-honed assurance gives an infectious delight in the sheer, simple power of guitar-based rock.

Photos of this gig available here.

Action Beat