Fake Turins & Shattercones – 26 Leake St – May 29th 2019

I am bereft. Just before arriving at 26 Leake Street, I receive a text confirming what’s been on the cards for a short while. 

A great man, the Grandpa to my son, has passed away. 

I didn’t see John much in the latter years of his life. My memories are of a kind, busy man; a witty cynic who had an enduring curiosity for life. He tried hard to convince me about the jazz he loved though I was never sure at the time.

I sit at the back of the Leake Street railway arch on a communal bench and have a private moment. A tear falls. 

 

Shattercones might have to forgive me in this circumstance that I don’t give them my full attention. I see enough from this distant vantage point to know that they’re a band I’d typically like. It’s very Dirty Three; fiddle-led murder ballads played by quiffed men in suits. Their songs build into thrilling, orchestrated climaxes. The higher, arched ceilings in this venue perhaps moot and muffle the overall, intended effect. Regardless, I note their name and resolve to check them out again in months to come.

Fake Turins are headlining tonight. So impressed was I by this sprawling collective when I first saw them (here) it was a no-brainer to choose to see them again a couple of months on. If anything, and this is the highest of praise, they’ve got tighter and more urgent since that initial gig. 

They’re really going for it tonight. When I last saw them, I observed that backing singer, Alex, might have been an expert in some sort of throat singing. Tonight, you can be left in no doubt that his contribution to Fake Turins is considerably greater than that. His harmonies carry the extended jams into different directions; at times, he becomes the tick making this clock tock.

Their Lead singer, replete with red hair tonight, still conducts the rest of the band a bit but the need to do so appears reduced. Each member of this consortium knows their place and there’s a comfort as a whole in the sound being produced. It results in an astonishing array of rhythm; at times, an euphoric, gospel-based rush. 

It’s the drummer’s birthday. Fake Turins draw attention to this and celebrate accordingly. They’ve got kazoos and cowbells; they know how to party even if the audience remain mostly seated and reserved. 

I’m glad I persevered with tonight. Fake Turins provided an ounce of cathartic release just when I needed it most. 

Suitman Jungle – 26 Leake St – March 6th 2019

I have no idea that the Leake St Arches might provide such a vibrant experience when I head there straight after work. The smell of spray-can paint is thick in the air; the juice of creative sorts rampant. Pop-Ups are popping up before the idea has even hatched out of its incubator; yep, down here underneath Waterloo some fine artistic pursuits are taking place.

I stop for a while and pause, pretty much paying homage, at a drying image of Keith Flint. 

I’m here to go to the bar at 26 Leake Street. In a reclaimed arch space, they’ve taken to scheduling gigs a few nights each week. Look to the ceilings and you’ll see two long rat murals, black and white rodents on a red canvas. It’s a Banksy apparently. It all fits with the surrounds. Bands and acts play at the far end of this cavernous tunnel whilst punters (art school beardsters, fashionistas and adventurous tourists) find space at tables to drink the local craft. It’s not as exclusive as I make it sound. I arrive in my office clothes and feel no snobbishness over my lack of effort.

Perhaps that’s because Suitman Jungle is also in his office clothes. Admittedly much more dapper than mine, Marc Pell (who is the Suitman) sports a nifty fitted-blue suit and tie. His hair, neatly combed to one side, tells tales of a man who’s anonymously sat behind a desk all day. Maybe he’s contributed to an office donation or opened up with a few words at a team meeting. But now is his chance for release as he takes to the 26 Leake St stage. 

And what a release it is. Just him, a minimal drum kit and electronic gadgets, he sets the most almighty drum ‘n’ bass into motion. In pauses between beats, he issues wise spoken word segments. This one is all about his walk to work through the ‘jungle’ of suits; and this one’s all about going up and down in the lift. In a break-heavy piece, he waxes lyrical about all manner of work breaks. 

When not riffing about work, Marc samples the voice of his young niece. You can tell why he’s a popular uncle such is his spirit of fun and mischief. 

It’s an exceptionally urban, essentially London sound that’s being created here. The perils, the opportunities, the frustrations and the joys of living here are laid out for all to see. It might only be a Wednesday night but the crowd at the front show every desire to dance their socks off. 

Suitman Jungle – made for the festival circuit, made in London.