Review by Zandra Klievens
Eric Johnson on vocals and guitar places himself to the right hand side of the stage leaving Sanae Yamada to the centre front with her keyboard. The projection on the wall flits about and they both create shadows on the back wall merging with the changing images. I must admit that the shadows are about the only thing I can see as it’s densely packed at the front and everyone appears to be taller than me, so instead I amuse myself by watching the crowd. There are some interesting movement from some who have let the relentless and hypnotic sounds take them. Oblivious to everything else they submerge themselves with the noise making odd shapes. They also seem to be unaware of the Christmas tree, which for most of the night has its baubles twanged to various parts of the room as it’s almost knocked over at least twice.
The sound is healthy, full and rather loud which is helpful, as this music does not work at an average level. Johnson’s vocals are stunning. In comparison to the keyboard, guitar and drum machine, his vocals are like the flour being sifted into the mixing bowl, refined and clear. It’s silky and woody, it’s as if it’s been seeped in time but managed to remain youthful, and they resonate through the music so well, juxtaposed against all the demanding repetition. The deliverance of his vocals are like a separate personality to his guitar. He makes everything look so easy.
Yamada throughout the set persistently moves in a unique fashion. Her riffs are precise and remain unchanged, unlike the guitar playing which is warped by the pedals taking on different colours. The high intensity of the actual music makes it really addictive.
There is never any speaking between songs; instead they have this awful pre-recorded sound that gnarls away from the PA, making it rather refreshing when the songs do start, but maybe that is their intention. ‘Dead West’ and ‘Stumbling 22nd St.’ are highlights.
By the end of the set I’m rather exhausted, time seemed to fly by. Their closing track lasts for twenty minutes and not once did I want the repetition to end. Tonight has been a gig to remember, it’s already got nostalgia.