Gig review and photography by Ken Harrison

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It’s Saturday 15th March, and downstairs in the Flapper, it’s a sell out crowd, with an assembled audience from across the UK (and Sweden too!) for the “Ides of March” event (Beware of Julius Caesar references…) organised by Synthetic City Promotions (i.e. Ian Wall/Johnny Normal) with appearances by 5 electronic artists from around the country.

Eurasianeyes, KirA, Sinestar, DeviantUK and Among the Echoes.

The line up has changed from that originally advertised, with Johnny Normal (one of the organisers, along with Ian Wall of Among the Echoes) having to pull out following illness. KirA have stepped into the breach, and DeviantUK (who were guesting with Johnny Normal) now have a slot in their own right. Also succumbing to the curse of the Ides of March, is the original MC for the evening Phil Marsh aka Flip Martian, Radio Happy DJ (along with Johnny Normal, where many of the bands performing are getting airplay) now replaced by Dave Charles, Harborough FM DJ and champion of all things electro with warm-up DJ for the evening, Rob Harvey, of Phoenix FM

Eurasianeyes

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Eurasianeyes is Mel Bell and Paul Russell a synth duo from Sunderland formed in 2012. Although the band have released material, this gig is in fact their first live appearance. Their Facebook page describes them as: “Heavily influenced by the likes of Ultravox, Gary Numan and Depeche’ Mode to name a few, Eurasianeyes have developed their own take on what they believe is classic synth music. A mixture of synth arpeggio’s, electronic bass lines and strong melodies together with powerful vocals have been key to the development of their debut EP “Silent Cries” and their debut single “Far Off Land”.

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Following an introduction by Dave Charles, the band start up to plenty of encouraging cheers from the audience, willing them on. The band play a short set of their own material opening with “Afterworld” which has a very “Love will Tear Us Apart” synth part running through and then “Silent Cries” and a cover of PJ Proby’s “She Cried” which grinds to a halt part way through due to a glitch… apparently unfazed by this, the band restart and carry on with their set to much merriment all round. Perhaps due to a combination of nerves or the stage lighting and Russell is mopping the sweat from his brow through the latter part of the short set. The band have some good synth tunes and are now starting to explore the live performance side with more gigs in the offing.

KirA

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KirA is a male and female synth duo from Somerset, with a style ranging from Ambient to Dance. Described as “…an electronic/synth based duo creating beautifully moody electronica ranging from ambient to dance. Fronted by Kira with her soft, yet seductively alluring vocal style, the act is backed by emotive string arrangements and rich analogue tones. KirA draws on its musical influences… from the likes of Japan and David Bowie to Massive Attack and the Boards of Canada. They marry this range of styles with old and new production techniques to create their unique soundscape.”

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Kira appears on stage with a projection screen upon which various graphics are projected through the show playing a number of tracks from their current album. She has a soft sweet often breathy singing voice which suits the more ambient style of music played. I think a few of the male members of the audience were captivated by her bright blue eyes as well as the vocals. Check out “Stars” for a good techno vibe. KirA will be appearing at the ElectroVault event in Berkshire on June 7th and has contributed to the forthcoming Bluetown Electronica release “Is it Time Yet ?” due out on April 4th. Their current album “Spark of Curiosity” is available via Bandcamp

Sinestar

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Comprising Mark Trueman (Keys and programming), Iain Brownlie (Vox and guitar), Matt Mohangee (Drums), James Skuse (Bass), this Bristol based band formed in 2011 but in a short space of time have garnered quite a following and seem to be the popular choice for a number of the audience. Their website quotes: “…Sinestar’s sound fuses 80’s synth-led sounds with the soaring vocals and harmonies of modern day Muse, with some dance inspired grooves thrown in for good measure. The band take their influences from many different genres and styles from the past five decades to create a sound which is uniquely and unmistakably their own.”

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The band have released two EP’s “I Am The Rain” in 2012 and “Hope and Prey” last year, with their debut album “Singularis” released at the end of 2013 and play a number of tracks from their album. “Locked from the Inside” and “I am The Rain” were particular highlights with Brownlie’s voice clear and powerful on all the tracks played.

DeviantUK

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“We’ve seen the light: Its Black” gives you a pretty good taster for the short, sharp, deep black, shock that is DeviantUK, or more particularly tonight Jay Smith on vocals with partner Cheryl MissDespotic on keyboards for their brief, but captivating 3 song set.

“Since materialising in Manchester in 2004, Jay Smith’s Deviant UK has established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the European Dark Alternative scene. The long-awaited debut album ‘Barbed Wire Star’ was released in September 2006, spawning the anthemic club hits ‘Raptured Saints’ and ‘Access Denied!’. Their unique sound is powerful, distinctive and instantly accessible.”

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Jay moves around the stage with a wild-eyed maniacal expression, and has a very powerful voice, often ”Numanlike” and could easily have blown the roof off the venue. The sound guy did a good job in controlling the sound for this one. Cheryl on keyboards struck an imposing figure even from behind the keyboards at the rear of the stage, with flame red hair catching the eye on the otherwise very dark stage.

Deviant UK will be back at The Flapper later this year for “Digital Darkness” on October 25th. Do Not Miss This Show!

Among the Echoes

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The final act for the night are Birmingham based Among The Echoes, “serving electronica and industrial rock music”, more electronica on the darker side by: Ian Wall (Vocals), Steve Turrell (Synth’s) and Sam Wale (Guitar and Programming).

The band released debut EP ‘Freak’ in April 2013, followed by ‘Midnight’ EP in August 2013 , with “Sin” released the following month and are currently working on an album entitled ‘Fracture” for release, at some point during August, subject to a ‘Kickstarter” campaign to secure funds for its production.

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The band have played a number of gigs locally and are establishing themselves as a good live act. They have supported Toyah, and others and are integral to the Synthetic City events started in 2013. They will be supporting 80’s band “B-Movie” at The Cross in Moseley on 3rd May, and at Synthetic City-2 on 27th September.

The set is opened up by “Heartbeat” and new track “Fracture” from their forthcoming album as well as Medusa” and “Hate” played later on in the set. This is the first appearance of new guitarist Riddell Thomas, following the recent departure of Phil Lockhart. Riddell and the band play tight and work well together on stage.

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“Pure” is a Gary Numan cover, a fan (and band) favourite, which goes down very well. The set is interrupted by a chorus of “Happy Birthday to you” for an embarrassed Mr Wall whose age shall remain unspoken at this point and the band are then are also joined on stage by Kira for a duet with Ian Wall too. The set closes with “Midnight” from the second EP, with great applause from the audience.

The Ides of March at The Flapper, has been an exceptional night of electronica in a small venue with a capacity crowd, who all seem to have enjoyed the variety of sound and styles on the stage tonight. Sound quality was excellent throughout each set, although my only criticism of the night was the limited extent of the lighting, mostly blue and red, which does not make many photographers happy “Oh for a little white light”…

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However, whatever your electronic preference, there was something for everyone in the performances tonight The ticket price was £6 which represents tremendous value and a very cheap night out. I would happily see again, any of the bands appearing tonight. If you like your music on the electronic side (or even if you don’t) you should check out some of the bands on their various sites and have a listen (or better still) go and see it live. ‘Lets’s get electrified!”

Among The Echoes Setlist:

HeartbeatFractureSinPureMedusaFlowersFreakHateMidnight

(See the complete photo set on our Flick page)

4 Responses to “Ides of March Ft. Eurasianeyes, KirA, Sinestar, DeviantUK and Among the Echoes at The Flapper, Birmingham, UK – 15th March 2014”

  1. Ian Says:

    Thank you for a great review and for being part of our evening.

    We look forward to seeing you at Synthetic City 2 in September and Digital Darkness in October…

  2. Ade Says:

    Good review sire! Glad to see some nice shots, though like you I was a tad disappointed by the lighting, the sound however was awesome!

    Ade

  3. Ken Harrison Says:

    Thanks very much for the feedback, I’m pleased we have done the event some justice. See you at the next show:)

  4. locky Says:

    top photographs and gig review lads, very very impressive……shame I couldn’t be there as I was looking forward to watching all the groups , especially Sinestar, listening to the “Fracture” album right now Ian.

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