I'd not seen Pere Ubu before, but I have to say I was really impressed. David Thomas is such a cool bloke. I liked the way he would sit down on a chair behind the mic stand between numbers, or during the odd instrumental break, and take a drink from his beer bottle, followed by another from his hip flask! And when he just sat there, mid-way through the first number with its Take Me To The River-like rhythm, and flicked through the pages of what turned out to be his lyric book, it was such a great moment!
D. Thomas, sweating and drinking.
And what a raconteur, claiming that 'that Gallagher' ripped off his moves ("I was doing those when he was still shitting yellow!", he said), writing a song for Kylie, talking about choosing the set-list (basically don't believe musicians who say they put effort into it - 'we choose it alphabetically' - before adding "this isn't sweat, it's passion"). It was great - his chat was almost on a Julian Cope level!
As for the music...well, I'm not a Pere Ubu completist by any means, but they played The Modern Dance, Non-Alignment Pact, We Have The Technology and a cover of the Dead Boys' Sonic Reducer, which I have been politely informed comes from Mr. Thomas' past.
The band were great. The guitarist made all those weird riffs look effortless and the keyboard player came up with some great sounds on his theremin–like contraption.
Apparently it was a steamy night in Manchester, as even the
act of playing the Theremin worked up a sweat!
And I'm a sucker for female bassists, and the bleached blonde woman certainly held everything together beautifully. Meanwhile, the drummer – who looked like he'd be more at home in Cradle Of Filth – pounded away in a futile attempt to sweat as much as the singer. And despite Thomas suggesting otherwise and saying he'd had too much to drink, he was in good voice. And I loved the salesman bit at the end, where Thomas sat at the end of the stage with a box of cds. He didn't say a word till someone eventually asked, "How much are the CD's, David?", whereupon he flogged them to the audience from there. I got Dub Housing and a big shake of the hand from the big man himself.
It was that sort of intimate gig.
The support act was 24 Hours, which is Jez from A Certain Ratio's new band. They didn't blow me away, but they were enjoyable enough. Obviously there was a similarity to ACR, but they were more like New Order to be honest (and the words 'Factory' and 'Benelux' came to mind on more than one occasion!). There was also one number when he sounded like the guy in The Beloved, and another which had a Bo Diddley riff over an almost jazzy backing, which was completed by featuring a trumpet solo. Not an entirely entirely successful mish-mash admittedly, but kinda interesting all the same. There was also a whistle and a cow horn in attendance, though it's fair to say that word 'doomy' came to mind more often that the word 'party'! Actually, I'd be interested in hearing them on record, because I think there could a be a few growers there.
But the star of the night was undoubtedly Mr Thomas. I've never had so much fun watching a big sweaty man. And boy, did he sweat!!