Disappears @ 100 Club

Monday 23 November 2015 – Disappears gig @ 100 Club, London.

Another week and another concert, this is getting a bit habitual, and in a good way too. I have a ticket to one more gig this year, but suspect I won’t be taking photos at that one, I will have to see. A UK Subs gig may be more of an opportunity to jump up and down than take photos.

I have been looking forward to this gig. I have been a fan of Chicago band Disappears for a while and have a few of their albums, Era and Pre Language being particular favourites.

A year ago they were invited to perform at a David Bowie exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. They chose to play the entire Low album from start to finish. It is an interesting album to play for a band comprised of guitar, bass and drums as the second half of the album is pretty much entirely instrumental and most of that instrumentation is synthesiser based.

That concert was recorded and it has just been released on vinyl. Disappears were going to be playing the album live at the 100 Club in London, one of only a handful of release shows. Low is one of El and my favourite Bowie albums so I grabbed us both tickets as soon as they came out and here we are.

Low was recorded in France in 1977 and was the first of three albums loosely referred to as the Berlin Trilogy, recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. The second album Heroes, is one of my favourite Bowie releases and the third was Lodger. With its use of synthesisers and innovative recording techniques, Low is considered to be a highly influential album.

Monday night is not really gig night for me, fortunately the 100 Club is easy walking distance from work, so El and I met nearby, had dinner and a drink and then turned up not long after opening. I have never been to the 100 Club before, it is a true music institution and must be one of a very small number of venues that still exists in its original location. It has hosted so many famous bands and events from the Rolling Stones up to the most current. For me its claim to fame is the 100 Club Punk Festival in 1976 which hosted all the big names in punk rock and pretty much spawned an entire movement of copyist bands and wannabes after. It was one of those classic ‘everyone who was at the gig went off to form their own band’ moments.

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The venue is as cool as I thought it would be, just a lot bigger, not being a sell out show it was not too crowded and unpleasant either. The walls are all covered in framed images of performances and performers who have played the club and it is a veritable feast of amazing artists from all musical genres. Oh to have been a house photographer !

Disappears were supported by Demian Castellanos, who played a set of ambient, droney post rock. Normally a genre I am a massive fan of, but I wasn’t in the mood for it tonight. I wanted to hear a band play!

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I am trying to recall if Disappears played the album in the right order, I am pretty sure they did, but it was five days ago and it has been a busy week. The lighting was the friendliest of all the shows I have been to recently, but the G16 isn’t really up to it. I think I will be saving for a second hand Canon 5d Mk2 or mk3 now…

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They definitely started in the right order, with great versions of Speed of Life and Breaking Glass. I need to go back and listen to Bowie’s original Breaking Glass as I have started to think that Disappears version is better. Sacrilege in some quarters I suspect!

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I am guessing a number of the crowd were just there for Sound and Vision, the big track of the album, it was never one of my favourite Bowie tracks, but Disappears guitar led interpretation was very cool and the track that has been in my head ever since.

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It was the side two instrumental tracks where it got really interesting, hearing the synth track Warszawa played by a band with no synths was amazing. All the technology that has gone in to effects pedals over the last few years has allowed the guitar to make sounds that would not have been even imagined as possible back in 77. I wander what Brian Eno thinks ?

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My favourite track of the night was Weeping Wall, this seemed like a totally different beast played live and on guitars. The drums don’t feature that much on the Bowie track, but tonight the drums, and the drummer were simply amazing. An almost perfect end to the gig. There was one more song – Subterraneans, to be played. The last song on the album and a mellow come down to end the show.

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We both thought the show was magnificent. A wonderful interpretation of a genuinely seminal, inventive and classic album. Bringing guitars to a synth party was a brave, interesting and fabulous move. I particularly liked the bass players faux London Bowie accent !

The album was released digitally a few days ago and I had listened to it a couple of times prior to the show. I had decided to not buy it, it is a live cover album, with no original, must own material. However after seeing the performance and having such a good time (on a Monday as well !) I have decided to buy it after all. Partly to support the band, partly to support the small indie label, Sonic Cathedral, who brought the band over, but mainly as a memento of a great night out!

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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