Unity Theatre, Hope Place
May 6th 2015

Reviewed by Tom Calderbank

What better way to spend the very eve of the General Election than listening to the sound of a Government ripping society's guts out? This was #TORYCORE, a SHATTERING gig, a howl of despair and anger from the soul of a battered country. The flyer describes it as "part metal-recital, part exorcism, combining sludge and doom metal with a variety of words from the Budget speech 2015; a pounding subverbal deathgrowl with text from the blue suits at Tory HQ". Yeah. I'd go along with that. As one of their previous reviews has it, "ANGER…sometimes it's the only rational response."

The gig was a double header with Chris Thorpe's 'Confirmation' preceding it. I missed this first part, but people I spoke to said it was a brilliant and deeply unsettling exploration of white supremacy and the space between us. Chris is also the guitarist with #TORYCORE and must have been bloody exhausted by the end of the night. The rest of the players were Steve Lawson on bass, and the remarkable Lucy Ellinson on vocals. Lyrics by that nice Mr Gideon Osborne and the architects of austerity.

Lucy began by asking the dozen or so of us in the audience to come out of our seats and sit on the floor. She felt like they were Westminster, distanced from we the people. She also warned us that the next 70 minutes were more to be endured than enjoyed. She was right, but there was real pleasure to be had in hearing, seeing and feeling a CREATIVE response to the Coalition horror show.

And so it began, with quotes flashing up on the screen behind, and Lucy reading extracts from speeches and official documents. The first was from the Prime Sinister, David Cameron, from January 2012 "We need to redefine the word fair." You just knew things were taking a turn for the Orwellian back then. There followed extracts from Cameron's leadership bid speech, Thatcher tributes, Atos questions intimidating the disabled, and the 2015 Budget speech. As part of an 'RIP NHS', Lucy listed the Lords who voted for the Health and Social Care Act - that they know about - who are on the boards of private health care providers. The sheer scale of their whoredom is breathtaking. Truly, they are corporate puppets. God only knows what the system will be like if TTIP passes. The words combined with the music created an appropriately menacing and doom-laden atmosphere, which built and built.

Hard to think of it as a 'highlight' (as this absolutely wasn't a gig done on traditional terms, with a turn trying to please the crowd), but the '1 minute rage' for the late lamented Paul Reekie was one. Paul's story is yet another desperately upsetting one from austerity Britain. He was an Edinbrough poet who committed suicide. He left no note, but there were 2 letters on his kitchen table: one notifying him that his housing benefit had been stopped, the other telling him his Incapacity benefit had been stopped. His friends wrote a letter to the Chancellor in the aftermath, then set up a campaign for disability rights in Paul's honour, the Black Triangle Campaign. As Lucy howled with rage, from the soles of her feet, it was really hard to take. I wanted it to stop, just stop. People had tears in their eyes by the end. Lucy seemed dazed and spent. This was pure punk love, a gutteral cry of humanity, a furious lament not just for Paul, but for all the other victims of these evil fuckers.

Whatever we do we must never forget their stories, and use their memories as fuel for our righteous fire.

In its artistic form, it reminded me of the incredible album 'The Fire This Time', which used audio cut-ups against a musical backdrop to create a form of reportage to skewer the lies and illuminate the truth about the first Bush Iraq War. Like that album, tonight fuels a sense of injustice and asks us all basic questions about our democracy.

#TORYCORE will live long in the memory.

But please, please, please, after May 7th, let there be no encore….


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