Gig Review by John Kennedy + Gig Photography by John Bentley

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Never been particularly partial to gigs in The Temple – too pokey, only one entrance/exit and bleeding nightmare lighting for frustrated photographers. Winge over. Support band Splashh with the extra comedy ‘h’ expounded their Sub-Indiedelica/dreamy inner-spaced-out guitar with the additional frisson of weedy 50s B movie sci-fi keyboards. Unannounced closing number segued into an extended tribal bass and drum loop hypno-riffing augmented by some experimental Moog-muse alike noise effects. A brief set but certainly a band worthy of further pursuit.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra: spawned in the hallucinogenic crucible of Timothy Leary’s lysergic legacy one’s immediate response to these antipodean/US wild-bunch renegades is that they continue to bear the torch championing the practice of bathing in the scented vats of unprescribed pharmaceutical indulgences – possibly. It’s as likely an explanation as any other for their cerebral cortex crushing retro/neo-psychedelic freak-out. And, damnably fine it was too. They’ve been garnering all sort of eulogies during this UK tour with Zeppelin/Beatles and crisp, West Coast proto-Acid Beat Pop. The list goes on…and on. Band founder, singer, guitarist and songwriter, Ruban Nielson, is foremost a formidable guitarist whose vocal takes often took on falsetto Soul notably on ‘Bicycle’ that was drenched in wah-wah tsunami tantrums and pissed-off UFO death-ray effects and, yes, oh heaven, didn’t the punters just adore the drum solo.

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‘Strangers Are Strange’ had the pounding insistence of vintage ‘Fresh Cream’s’ Clapton wah-wah guitar overload delirium. Heavenly stuff. A generic ‘Break On Through’ opening riff spilt into hectic Hawkwind with the, principally, instrumental ‘No Need For A Leader’. Sabbath/Zeppelin histrionics segued later in to a cut-throat closing coda with a big thanks from Ruban Neilson for people making it a sell-out show.

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And ‘Jello & Juggermauts’ slow tempo intro perfectly captured Neilson’s canny skill with guitar notation/vocal pitch syncronicity. Imagine Making Plans for Nigel in an Electric Ladyland for ‘The Opposite Of The Afternoon’ in preparation for Neilson letting loose with pure guitar bruising bravado with ‘From The Sun’. Its ‘Sexie Sadie’ guttural grunt leading to a blistering solo enough to have kept a cage-full of Hot Rats squirming in freak-out vermin ecstasy.

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Recent singles ‘Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark) and ‘So Good At Being in Trouble’ were warmly received by the initiated as were covers of Floyd’s ‘Lucifer Sam’ and, well, what a surprise, Can’s ‘Vitamin C’, a last moment’s re-think after they’d scorched it from the set-list fortunately. Outstanding night. Damn fine band – signing albums etc post-gig. Great crowd too – sorted.

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One Response to “Unknown Mortal Orchestra + Splashh at The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 8th May 2013”

  1. John Kennedy Says:

    Big thanks to ‘Scoop’ John B for background notes etc :-) JK

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