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Review: 'Sonic Boom'
'Live at The Powerhaus, Dingwalls Building, Camden'   

-  Genre: 'Post-Rock' -  Release Date: '11.9.21.'

Our Rating:
This is my first visit to the third version of Vince Powers Powerhaus venue, this time in the legendary venue formerly or still known as Dingwallls, a venue I have been going to since 1984 through several owners and a few make-overs, this time they have changed the name only on the door to the gig room every other space in the building is still Dingwalls! which seems a touch absurd but is to do with copyright issues.

The gig was scheduled to run from 6.30 till 10 pm according to the venues website, that was amended to 7-10pm so on arriving at about 7.45 to find firstly they are not using the traditional front door but the side door used by the worst owners the venue ever had things didn't look great. Apparently, there were technical issues that had to be solved and eventually about 8.20 or so the doors opened and everyone got in. Thankfully they haven't mucked about with the interior too much but have re-done the stage.

About 9.30 Pete Kember came on to sit down at his table of machines and announced that he would only be playing his latest album tonight in full, there would be no encores and no old material.

He also told us the first song was about a friend who cured himself from cancer through the power of music and positive thinking while he was getting ready he fiddled with one of the knobs that added some effects to his vocals before he set the machines into motion pressing a few buttons and flicking the odd switch and the lush dreamy sounds of Just Imagine washed over us as healing sounds and good vibes filled the room and most of us swayed along happily as Sonic really sung the lyrics that were encased in layers of reverb.

He adjusted some knobs and crossed some faders as Just A Little Piece Of Me stirred into life and the light show was just mesmerizing enough so it wasn't always obvious that a lot of the time Sonic was singing and had his arms by his sides as the pre-programmed elements played through his array of samplers and effects and the knob he twiddled the most seem to be the one controlling how drenched in effects his vocals were as he intoned how all things must pass.

Things Like This (A Little Bit Deeper) had some deep bass parts among the swirling dreamscape techno as the bucolic message in the lyrics and the need for renewal came across like the strobe lights strafing the audience.

More switches were flicked and buttons pressed at the start of Spinning Coins And Wishing On Clovers that felt like he was staring at the Sun and relaxing as this was nice and chilled out even if there was the odd bit of feedback coming through every once in a while.

The re-arranging of the samples or triggers was almost seamless as he went into My Echo, My Shadow And Me that got nice and deep both musically and lyrically as if he was trying to meditate on his whole life experience and how he has shared it with us.

Things got even more of sunshine feel On A Summers Day a really gorgeous wash of synths to lay back and enjoy the summer too as the light show did all sorts of cool paisley things.

Sonic adjusted a few things at the start of The Way That You Like and the swelling sound and repeating synth parts built in ways that made you wonder about how the tunes had been constructed and how he was making it while doing seemingly very little on stage, while having done all the hard work in the pre-production stage as everyone grooved along with him.

Tawkin Tekno stood out as not only was it the closest he came to sounding like Suicide all night and in particular Shadazz, but it was also the one song that he played the keyboards on to add to the washes of synth, this for me was the high point of the set a magnificent song.

I was hoping he would carry on playing keyboards on I Can See Light Bend but instead he just twiddled a knob and pushed a fader or two and we were deep into the light bending power of positive music and the light show taking us all off on another trip.

Pete then thanked us all before the last song of the album and the set I Feel A Change Coming On that is upbeat and hopeful for some real renewal and a way to heal the planet not only with cool music but with more recycling and a more organic way of living as the synths washed over us one last time.

He got a good round of applause at the end and thanked us again and also thanked us for showing up to seeing him play again, well it feels amazing that it's now 34 years since I first saw him playing with Spacemen 3 and that he's still this good live, he also played past the 10pm curfew till about 10.30 which is still far earlier than the days when headline acts would come on at 1.30 am or later.
  author: simonovitch

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