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Thursday 2 August 1979 concert review

Magazine: New Musical Express (UK)

Publication date: Saturday 11 August 1979

Reviewer: Adrian Thrills


 

WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL ATROCITY EXHIBITION

Fart Squeak Fizzle Bleep!
Contrary to a good deal of popular mythology, those were just about the only sounds not made by any of the bands on a challenging bill put together by independent London gig promoters, Final Solution
That there are still enough people around dismissing most of the so called avant-garde activists so glibly is a savage indictment of the numbing predictability of most of the criticisms such bands have been getting of late
And
 particularly in the cases of the groups assembled here  that is just so wide of the mark it's unbelievable
All four are alive and breathing; pushing tentatively forward in vastly different directions. They are unorthodox but only rarely inaccessible
First up were the two from Zoo
 Echo And The Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes; both share the distinction of having released two of this year's best singles with Pictures On My Wall and Bouncing Babies respectively
Echo And The Bunnymen are three Liverpudlians and a hypnotic drum machine. Playing only their tenth gig (and their first in London) they are understandably unsure of themselves onstage but still impressive
Singer Ian McCulloch, who displays a tartan shirt and a shaggy quiff, strums a semi-acoustic guitar in the centre of the stage. Flanking him are bassist Les Pattinson and lead guitarist Will Sergeant, who spends most of the set buried beneath a paid of headphones operating the drum machine
Their electric folk songs are hauntingly atmospheric with the Velvet Underground and Bowie lurking ominously in the background. They are doomy without ever being depressing apart from on the last song but one, Happy death man, where they begin to ramble on erratically
The Bunnymen are at their best when not being deliberately enigmatic
Teardrop Explodes are probably more my sort of band
Coming on after the Bunnymen, they immediately slip into more accessible pop/rock vein. The songs are choppy and chunky, the rhythm section brittle and funky. But with titles like Sleeping gas, Ha, ha, I'm drowning, Went crazy, and Second hand, the songs suggest something more sinister and disorientating underneath
Introducing a cover of the Bunnymen's Read it in books, singer Julian Cope
 an unruly mop of wavy light brown hair in an open-neck shirt  jibes good-naturedly that their version of the song is "fab and better". I'm inclined to agree, but only just
If I had a flair for understatement, I could say that Joy Division were good too. The truth is they were phenomenal
 the most physical hard rock group I've seen since Gang Of Four
This Manchester band have been allowed to grow at their own pace, uncramped by commercial pressures. The result is they've created a totally distinctive, cohesive sound over the last two years
They recall the sombre power of Magazine and the tribal rhythms of The Pop Group, but take everything a stage further
Each member is equally important. Drummer
Steve Morris is undoubtedly the best 'thumper' since the sadly exiled Palmolive of Slits/Raincoats fame. His style is also remarkable for the combination of ordinary drums and electronic percussion and syndrums, particularly devastating on She's lost control and the Insight encore
Peter Hook swerves and dips on bass like a more menacing Paul Simonon, while guitarist Bernard Dickens remains sternly still beside Ian Curtis who sings and growls as he grimly jerks like a puppet on invisible strings
Their set is paced perfectly, combining the already recorded material with newer songs like
Dead souls, Autosuggestion, Transmission and Atrocity exhibition in roughly equal measures
They have the spirit and the feeling
The unknown pleasures of Joy Division are destined to be brought into the open now
Essential Logic's luck was sadly out tonight
Not only had they the thankless task of having to follow Joy Division, but they were also appeared so late that the majority of the crowd were already drifting off to catch the last tubes home
It is hardly surprising that their set was sorely lack-lustre. I still think Lora is imaginative and talented and writes charming, quirky songs, but the internal chemistry of the
Logic line-up (with the possible exception of second saxist Dave Flash) seems to be wrong
Still, with the Virgin connection now severed after just one single, and an album on their own Logic label in the making, they have plenty of time to get their sums rights