Will Gregory's Moog Ensemble
Town Hall, Birmingham
June 11th, 2015
The Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, which is without doubt a Hajj for lovers of uneasy listening, blasted off circa2015 with Will Gregory's (sensational) Moog Ensemble at the Town Hall on Thursday Evening.
A brief aside about the very gentlemanly attendee who offered me his phone to download my ticket reservation number since my handset was dead. Can you imagine. And that was after he'd said semi-loudly, although not then disparagingly that, as I walked across an empty Victoria Square that he could tell me where I was going to. Although seemingly unaware of the move in mens styles towards short shorts, very nice man nonetheless.
The Space-Age Will Gregory Moog Ensemble assembled their Moogs, MiniMoogs, odd Korgs and cousin Roland in a semi-circle across the Town Hall stage in a style redolent of the Bridge of the original Enterprise. How I wish Will Gregory, the only man whose hairstyle predated the synths, had presided over all on a massive Captain Kirk throne in the middle of it all - and maybe the band too could've worn some brightly colored star trek outfits instead of those archetypal waiter shirts. Memo to these Moogsters, get GoldFrapps stylists on it.
The music, totally mind blowing, although in the quieter passages I couldn't tell whether there was a loose shhhhhushing patchchord or my tinnitus hissing up a storm. A problem I didn't have to consider at a recent Iceage performance.
Every piece the Moog ensemble performed was a delight, every piece a highlight. From John Carpenter's own soundtrack to his own movie Escape From New York, Moog reinterpretations of Debussy, Burt Bacharach's South American Getaway vocal stylings for Butch Cassidy, Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto and even a segment of white noise, which really rocked out, gently back and forth from the shoulders up. Oh wow.
Then companion Warren, Bearwood's Finder and Keeper of Old Technology said, "This is the best show I have ever seen." And it made me wonder, while he could be right, does he get out enough?
Each player on the evening was a special guest star turn, especially Portishead's Adrian Utley looking like a young and intense Jack Bodell. Will Gregory stole the show, almost apologetically. He often controls his Moog with a breath controller which sort of looked like someone's idea of an at some point in the past futuristic toy saxophone. Just superb. He has just such a lovely, idiosyncratically charming way with music, and the words in between, it's altogether totally irresistible. Like the High School music teacher all kids should have.
The last time I saw something this much fun was when Harry Parch's instruments were assembled for an ensemble at the Barbican, oh, sometime way before you were born.
Monophonic, analogue, memory chip less Moogs... They so brilliantly have their backs to the future.
I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.