Somewhere in my head is a Rolodex of gigs you really had to be at to get anywhere near understanding how good they were, gigs that can’t be described, fragments of what happened can’t be found on YouTube, we didn’t have things like that back then, you had to be there breathing the air and bumping elbows, tasting it, sharing it, sharing those knowing glances that don’t need words. We’ve gone about them here before, by now the list probably means very little to most people, these things are lost now, most of them bands and venues are long gone and mostly forgotten, way before the internet and everything filmed recorded and photographed. Mint 400 at the Sausage Machine over in West Hampstead, or the glorious gloom of backroom of the Falcon in the days before the fly infestation, that few months when Huge Baby first landed and tore places apart with their candle-lit intensity, Saint Silas Intercession that down in the sweat if the Hope and Anchor basement, Webcore switching the other at the Hammersmith Clarendon for that Stonehenge benefit all-dayer that time (how many did they let in that day?”). The other night was almost a throwback to one of those Rolodex nights, a gig and a night when you really did have to be there. There might be some youtubes of this one up on-line by now, that’s what happens these days isn’t it? Haven’t looked yet and if there is, they’re really not going to convey much of what went down in that basement last Sunday. You really had to be there in that Dalston basement, it can’t be explained or described here on electronic paper, pointless even trying.
The United Sounds of Joy made their live debut and performed their new album from beginning to end down in the basement of the Servant’s Jazz Quarters. Now the Jazz Quarters isn’t the greatest venue in the world, the beer is overpriced for a start, I like a venue where you feel you need to wash your hands afterwards, where you need to go home and have a shower, the Jazz Quarters feels like a Pizza Express or something, still, it served a purpose (and the bar drained our pockets). The rather mesmerising Ligeti Quartet were up first, amazing four-headed chemistry, incisely sharp interplay, how do they do that? Sometimes delicately minimal, sometimes bursting with speed and energy, always mesmerising, never wreckless, four classical string players sat is a semi-circle in front of what is essentially a spell-bound rock audience and holding everyone’s attention in such a wonderfully engaging way, Avant-garde classical string players and an inspired mood-setting left-field choice and far more besides, they were brilliant actually, such intricate interaction, such warmth… it would be fair to say they rocked. .
The duo that is United Sounds Of Joy are extended to a four piece live, additional strings and bass to augment the multiples of keyboards and guitars both Alex and Michael J are playing. There really was never a doubt about them pulling off the magic of the album live, they convey all the warmth and beauty that radiates from the recording as they perform the beautiful thing from one end to another. Not sure what the capacity of this basement is, the gig sold out weeks ago, we’re crammed in here, everyone silent, none of that annoying gig chatter and phone waving, everyone transfixed, silent attention, full attention, something rather special happening here, magical, beautiful, something that really can’t be described or “reviewed”. The new album preformed in full, graceful, refined, so alive, so delicately warm, glowing, hopeful.
There’s a a couple of old Dream City Film Club songs tagged on to the end after the Joy has been dealt out, Alex Vlad and Michael J Sheehy made up two of the four parts of that band somewhere back in the last century so there’s some FilmClub numbers tagged on to the end, they bring a smile, some shouting fro Pissboy as we get if I Die, but really they’re things from a long time ago, almost another lifetime and tonight is about the beauty of now, of a rather special new band and a beautiful debut album brought to life on stage with glowing style, these things can’t be described, they’re magical, you had to be there, you had to be there in the moment, silent on the floor, socking it up, there to exchange knowing glances with the others that were, something special happened tonight, something every bit as good as the album, it can’t be described or reviewed, just added to the Rolodex in my head…. (sw)
The Organ United Sounds album review and details are here