Last Saturday, Krankschaft and vert:x offered a perfect answer to life and the universe and everything, with an evening of great music in a lovely venue. The Water Rats is the place where the first UK gig of Bob Dylan took place, but also the first performance of The Pogues or the first London gig of Oasis. It has everything one may demand from a venue: terrace, pub, concert spot and, not at last, a great sound.
I discovered vert:x (all lower cases, vert colon x) almost four years ago, in a radio show on Dandelion Radio, and got addicted their sound instantly. Since then, I managed to find out who they were, I got all their releases, stayed informed with their endeavors thanks to their facebook page and, yes, I even got a vert:x t-shirt. But there was a crucial and quite painful element missing in my fan life: not having seen them live yet. So I had to fix that somehow. When they announced a gig in London, I knew that was my chance. And traveling to London for live music has always been a pleasure. Belgium has a wonderful live scene but seeing a concert in London is a completely different experience, especially when the groups are English as well. There is a special bond between audience and bands there, having to do not only with the feeling of playing home but probably also with being part of the same happening rather than being two different entities, group and listeners, gathered together for an event.
vert:x setlist went a bit throughout their discography, starting off with s.p.a.c.e.p.u.n.k. from probably their most popular album, the mindstealers, which set the audience in motion and had a great response. cube abuse was a hypnotic trip with bass (Neil Whitehead), guitar (Vince C) and plenty of synthesizer reverberation coming from The Other One and Barry Mart. Its final sounds melted into cheers and applause. Delighted to hear lyrics added to this lovely track. Delighted also to hear psychic indicator live, a joyful tonic tune also from the mindstealers and among my favorites. Another song full of stellar flavor was space junk (and, just for the record, besides space punk and space junk, vert:x catalogue contains also a third song with ‘space’ in the title – space ride). Vince C is great guitar player and it was lovely to see him giving life to sounds listened to so many times on the album; especially on space junk.
After some half an hour, Neil W announced the last song, event which created a bit of disappointment among the audience as time seemed to had gone too fast. But when it was revealed that the song would be lasting for 15 minutes, the smile came back on people’s faces. yn ôl y Annwn is also the ending track of their latest album Annwn and it’s that kind of track in which you can get lost in a wall of rich sound and repetitive rhythms at fast tempo.
vert:x is the type of band that won’t leave you indifferent, a band that creates joy and good feelings through their sound, a band that you wish to listen jamming and definitely a band that leaves you craving for more at the end of their show. It is clearly a wonderful project and it seems that there are more bands and projects coming from these people (Red Elektra 69, Vostok, ash magna, just to name a few) which only proves that they know what they are doing and they are doing it so cosmically well.
Rooted in the Hawkwind-related musical legacy, Krankschaft play a highly structured and inspired mix of psychedelic progressive rock with dreamy ambient moments, musical storytelling and lots of jokes in between songs. In fact, their sound-check was one of the wittiest I’ve ever assisted. And as proof of their great spirit, nothing was lost even if the guitar amplifier broke after the first song. Well, an astrology freak could have easily explained such thing as a direct consequence of Mercury, the planet of electronics items, going retrograde this month. But no matter how amusing it would be to image Mercury taking Steve Pond’s amplifier as a tribute, it was Mr Pond’s job to go back to the van and bring another one on stage.
Their setlist (below) seems to give preference to promoting their latest album, Three, but it presented new songs as well. Personally, I liked a lot Sheep for the mix of retro psychedelic and social lyrics.
Behind their humor there is a great professionalism, lots of hard work and a constant care for excellent sound. There was so much going on stage that no wonder their sound is rich, complex and full of energy: Steve Pond playing guitar, doing the lead vocals and handling different electronic effects; Alex Tsentides being an awesome bass player with an impressive finger picking technique creating both melody and rhythm; Kevin Walker perfecting all of the above by drumming either straightforward and simple or in seriously complex patterns.
If you ever go to a Krankschaft concert, expect high energy, high quality music and great humor for the entire set. You can follow their facebook page for the next live sets.
s.p.a.c.e.p.u.n.k. /// cube abuse /// tas /// psychic indicator /// Space junk /// Yn ôl y Annwn
Dark Energy /// Hollow Earth /// Day of the Quake /// Silent Witness /// Our Words are Golden /// Come Fly with Us /// Binary Star /// Moon /// Interstellar Highway /// The Hum /// The Great Precession /// Sheep /// Who What Why? /// Raj Neesh /// Encore: Chem Trails/ Picket Line
Music is the soundtrack of our lives. It is also a cause of tinnitus and hearing loss. If you’re a constant concert-goer, stop fooling around and invest 150 euro in your health with a pair of professional, custom made earplugs. That’s right, the kind all cool musicians, reviewers and conscious music lovers own. There are numerous providers, search for one in your city right now. Hearing does not come back; once lost, music can stop forever.
You can read his review also on Concert Monkey.