St George’s Hall, Liverpool
30th May 2017
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
Set the controls for the heart of the sun, here come Mugstar. The band’s philosophy seems to be dispense with the lyric sheet completely in order to get more riffs in per square inch.
The singing bit, when it does appear, seems a bit ad hoc anyway. More howling really, which seems to fit into the scheme of things. The singer then breaks off occasionally to play the organ, whereupon he adopts the persona of Vincent Price (looking demonic).
So, if serious krautrock riffage is your thing kiddies, Mugstar are the band for you. I would say it’s sort of a cross between Neu and Hawkwind, and in what appeared to be just under half an hour of sonic guitar worship they disappear.
And so, in the immortal words of Vince the stoned beat in the cartoon series deputy dawg, what happened? What happened?
And so, we now have the Thurston Moore band. Thurston was the original guitarist in the art rock band Sonic Youth, which started life in the early Eighties in New York, and split up because the two founding members got divorced, Thurston and Kim Gordon.
The Thurston Moore band are playing tonight in the confines of St George’s Hall as part of the ‘Tonight At Noon’ programme, which is a celebration of fifty years since the publication of The Mersey Sound by Liverpool poets Adrian Henri, Roger McGough, and Brian Patten.
So tonight at noon,well just after nine o’clock really, Thurston appears on stage with a book in his hand. This is what it’s all about, I’m gonna read you a poem, and so he starts to read from the Mersey poets book. It’s great really, it’s a total Sonic Youth art rock statement. Everybody has come to check out Thurston and his band and so he decides to read some poems, brilliant.
Give the audience what they don’t want, carrying on that great tradition since Bob Dylan at the Albert Hall and Manchester.
As the band start to play it reminds me of the Bad Moon Rising album which I remember them playing at the Hacienda in Manchester back in the day. The album explored the dark underbelly of American culture, taking in such subjects as the early American pioneers relationship with the native Americans and Charles Manson and the death of hippie idealism.
The songs on the album are quite slow but with lots of intensity and strange guitar tunings. You can see the similarities between the songs, with Sonic Youth mostly drawn from the Goo album and Bad Moon.
After a while, Thurston reads more poetry, Brian Patten this time, which is great.
Then they bang into it again, this time surprisingly entering into free jazz territory. Sonic Youth has always threatened free jazz, but never really to my knowledge, played it on stage. But tonight they take the plunge. The interplay between Steve Shelle and Thurston is great each giving the other the space to improvise.
Steve is the original Sonic Youth drummer, and also one of the best drummers in New York, so it’s great to watch. After a few jazz interludes, they go into the faster material, which is fun, but the free bits were interesting.
The band finish and leave only to be brought back three times. Eventually Thurston, with guitar in hand, waves us all goodbye, and they are gone.
So that was great.
More weird gigs at St George’s Hall please!