Saturday 10th November 2012

Delta Mainline, Zed Penguin, White Lightnin’

White Lightnin’

This is old-school, overdriven rock and roll that wouldn’t sound out of place in an American Midwest trucker bar. Clearly deeming a bass guitar as surplus to requirements, their sound is raw, rowdy and raucous.

In terms of posturing, the band are actually fairly unassuming – the music does all the swaggering for them. They look nothing like you would expect from the music – they are sporting variously a flat cap, leather jacket and ballgown. The last is worn by Sara, of ‘Sara And The Snakes’ fame, and it contrasts quite beautifully with the powerful, feral roar she issues forth.

Throughout the set, they migrate through more melodic rock (almost comparable to Bon Jovi but most definitely without the ridiculous hair-throwing) to The Fall-esque punk.

Supposedly these guys only formed a matter of months ago. You would never know from their very slick set. Very promising beginnings indeed.


Zed Penguin

The set begins through a melee of swirling guitars and cello. A maelstrom of comforting howls.

There is a free flowing, free-form feel to the songs. Matched to the abstract flower-laden visuals and song names like ‘Tulip’, they evoke the birth of psychedelia many moons ago. Beefheart, early Floyd and even Arthur Brown are in evidence. The effect is so complete, even down to the singer’s well turned out shirt and sweater combo, you expect to see Twiggy dancing in the audience.

As an aside, and in a possible reflection of the entangled nature of the music scene, the drummers of Zed Penguin and White Lightnin’ are brothers.

It seems the songs are mere vehicles for expression, which is a rare thing. Far too often, bands play but do not perform. That criticism could never be levelled at Zed Penguin. And that is not to say the songs lack hooks, melodies or structure – only that there is never an attempt to hide behind them. Compelling.


Delta Mainline

The house lights are down. There is only starcloth to pick out the figures as they take to the stage, accompanied by woops and claps. There is a palpable sense of anticipation. They are becoming a band with a real following.

Theirs are songs in the anthemic vein. Some even take on a spiritual context – “Lord, I let you down,” the lyrics go. As always, there is a mind-boggling array of instruments in use and in reserve at any one time. Tambourines, guitars, drums, shakers, theramin – you name it, they are playing it. For a wall of sound, Delta Mainline take some beating.

There is also a constant noise even between songs – a guitar wail, a held chord – which gives an impetus to the set and performance as a whole. They err towards a full sound, sculpting a set, rather than hooks or licks.

While Delta Mainline are, at heart, a rock band, they don’t just play rock songs. They turn a collection of songs into a show. Epic stuff that will no doubt be gracing arenas before too long.

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