19th March | The Lanes
Photos: Rob Perham
The algorithms of online media may increasingly limit our spheres, restricting us to our own echo chamber of complementary views and opinions. However, for the web-centric music fan, they can be an avenue to your new favourite band. Trawling YouTube uploads may be the lazy fan’s crate-digging, lacking the personal and financial dedication that comes with going to your local store and buying the record. Yet, it has also been a great resource for those wanting to explore a genre niche, learning of bands whom they may have missed out on otherwise.
Tonight’s headliners, Pink Turns Blue, seem to have benefited from this, although it seems strange to talk of them in the same terms as a newly-surfaced Soundcloud discovery. They’re pioneers of the post-punk subgenres like darkwave and cold wave: extremely influential and one of the genre’s brightest lights in the mid 80s until the early nineties. However, I’m sure more than a few of the younger faces in tonight’s audience are here following a curious click, mid-YouTube binge.
First, of a more local variety, goth-rock quintet, NAUT provide a home-brewed contrast to the respective Berliner cool and legendary air of the two later bands. Looking like they’ve honed their set in every small pub in Bristol, they open up with a tight set of Killing Joke-like tunes, as bemused bowlers dance in the bowling alley entrance stage right.
Following on from NAUT, Bleib Modern take to the stage. All skinheads or slicked-back hair – short of a few bike chains, there’s an air of menace to them (although the drummer’s yellow turtleneck provides a slight deviation). Their three-guitar combo is effective in building slow-burning, atmospheric tracks which instantly give The Lanes the air of an abandoned Eastern Bloc factory. Despite at times wearing a little a thin before switching up the tempo late on, theirs is the darkest set of the night and leaves an impression which urges you to check them out as soon as you get home.
Admittedly, having only the distinctive cover of their debut album as a visual reference, I’d made up a mental image of the band as gothic overlords. Seeing three middle-aged men enter the stage, I realise how easy it is to build up an image of a band that they can only fail to fully live up to.
Although front man, Mic Jowger’s vocals may now sound a little more Bernard Sumner than the apocalyptic voice which stands out on record, the band do not disappoint. They warm into a set which leans on the post-punk of the band’s debut rather than the more boundary-pushing later albums. A headrush of a recital of the simple but effective ‘Walking on Both Sides’ epitomizes the start to the set.
By the time of ‘Your Master is Calling’ the band are in a full swing, the modest crowd fully invested. Closer ‘Michelle’, a standout track from 1990’s Eremite, falls strangely flat, despite there being little issue in its performance. However, this does not detract from a set by a band which I never thought I’d see in the flesh. More than a nostalgic box-ticking exercise, this was an opportunity to appreciate a band not fully appreciated first time round.
Listen to ‘The Clown’ here: