Former singer with 70s “krautrockers” Can, playing his first gig outside London in fifteen years, watching Damo was well weird. Stereoboard and I decided that there was a fine line between Genius and Tedious, and that Damo was straddling it precariously throughout.
He was certainly on stage for a very, very long time – well in excess of two hours, not coming off stage till around half past midnight. The band’s first four numbers were all around thirty minutes long, with the concluding fifth number and the ska-tinged encore being somewhat shorter.
The music was unique – conventional yet experimental, accessible yet obtuse, melodic yet angular, disciplined yet self-indulgent. Out there on its own, impossible to categorise or indeed to form any meaningful comparisons. The pieces were episodic in nature; like several songs stitched together, except you couldn’t see the join. There were many long instrumental passages, where Damo simply stood around, sticking his head forward and shaking his lengthy locks about in time-honoured “AC/DC at the school disco” fashion.
The crowd were on the sparse side, which was not surprising at £11.50 a ticket (for a venue which normally charges half that amount). As well as the usual crowd of clued-up Social devotees, there was also a sizeable contingent of unreconstructed hippies in their late forties (we even had our own “idiot dancer” down the front, maaan). Restrained applause during the set – unrestrained, wild applause at the end, but we were all very, very drunk by then (it had been a long and arduous haul).
During one of the final instrumental passages, Damo came down off the stage and went round hugging virtually every single member of the audience, myself and Stereoboard included. It was a lovely, big, warm, sincere, proper hug – if a little moist (especially in the hair department).
With his hippy/shoegazer past and his long-standing Stereolab fixation, Stereoboard loved the whole thing, almost without reservation. As for me: I loved it in parts and was bored stiff in other parts, but my main emotion was probably “perplexed” (and later, “pissed”).