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. 

Tetine, Fake Turins and Voodoo Rays – The Shacklewell Arms – March 7th 2019

My working week in London is nearly done. After a training day tomorrow, I head out to the countryside (well, Peterborough and Leicester) for a weekend break from the constant go. I can’t help myself. This is a city that never sleeps and so I oblige by rarely nodding off. It helps that the bed in this Airbnb is basically an instrument of torture.

 

But I won’t grumble. Instead I’ll just make myself scarce and head off to another free gig. Anywhere else they wouldn’t be free but there’s just too much choice in this town. It’s back to the Shacklewell Arms tonight. I enjoyed my first trip there (reviewed here) and this is a chance to see three more bands. 

I arrive just as Voodoo Rays begin. I don’t want to be ageist – indeed, I’m no spring chicken myself – but it’s fair to say that Voodoo Rays have age on their side. It’s something of a surprise then that life experience doesn’t seem to have given any of these losers insight into gig etiquette. They’re not astonishingly awful though I do find myself hoping that somebody will tell them they’ve over-run when they casually enquire ‘how much time have we got left’. They play ‘new ones’ which seems to be code for ones we’ve not fully rehearsed.

 

What really gets my goat – and swings my mind towards slamming Voodoo Rays – (regular readers of Sonic Breakfast will realise this is a rare occurrence) is their attitude post gig. There mightn’t be space to leave kit anywhere at the Shacklewell but it’s just bloody rude to spread yourself out alongside the wall with a shelf – the only place where punters can rest their beer glasses. The drummer excessively and possessively fiddles with kit like nobody else here matters. He’s oblivious to anybody else around him and by the time that he pretty much knocks my beer out of my hand, swinging the bass drum on his back like a snail on speed, Voodoo Rays music has long since ceased to matter.

Fortunately, things quickly take a turn for the better. There’s six, no make that seven, members of the Fake Turins crammed onto the Shacklewell stage but despite the tight fit they’re all more than aware of their personal space and role in the band. There’s no getting away from the Talking Heads comparisons here. Their lead vocalist takes the mantle of band leader in a manner reminiscent of David Byrne as he conducts the rest of the troupes through their funked-up art jams. Intuitively, they know when to build and when to fade. He takes a David Toop novel out of a jacket pocket and proceeds to read from it; the spoken word of the prose creating an effect not unlike that you’ll get from Bristolian stalwarts, The Blue Aeroplanes. Fake Turins are good and they know it; despite unnecessary interjections from recorder and cowbell, there’s more than enough bass, bongo and backing vocal to stop this from being a dud.

 

Tonight’s headliner, Tetine, are from Sao Paolo though I’m led to believe that they spend a fair bit of time in London these days. The duo of Bruno and Eliete originally present as a pretty traditional synth act with added bass. Full of beat and disco excess, they’re never anything but entertaining. Eliete leaves the keyboard to fend for itself and takes centre stage during Mata Hari voodoo, an early set-highlight that begins in contained control but ends with Eliete as a person possessed, speaking in tongues in squat position.

 

I don’t get to hear what the song title is but over the chorus of a disco-pop banger, the words ‘I was falling in love’ entices a couple in front of me, who are clearly in the first throes, to start dancing energetically. My smile is enduring.

Bruno’s bass is discarded with and Eliete again leaves the Roland running for Tetine’s very own ‘Beastie Boys’ moment. Lick my Favela is a Brazilian reworking of ‘Fight For Your Right’. It’s seedy and performed seductively. It’s only later that this correspondent realises that the Favela is not a body part but a slum area in Brazil. One suspects that there’s a political angle to this art and it’s not just a hedonistic party.

 

London’s given me another top night despite the slow start. I splash through the puddles on the way back to the Airbnb without a care in the world.