Sdtrk: ‘Microtronics 13’ by Broadcast
So yeah, as you may have suspected from the Subj.title and soundtrack choice, I decided I was well enough to go witness Broadcast on Sat eve. Was it worth it? Indeed it was!
Jeff, Tim and I left got to the Magic Stick round 8.30, as the doors were due to open at 9, and we didn’t want to have to wait in a potential queue that stretched round the block, like when the faint played there. Oddly enough, there wasn’t a line at all! Not that we were complaining, of course.
As I’d stated, the doors (meaning, the iron gate at the top of the steps that lead up to the venue) were supposed to open at 9, but they didn’t actually do so until almost 9.30, which was weird, as the Stick is usually spot on with their ‘door open’ time. That’s the sort of silly bollocks that we’d come to expect from seeing shows at St.Andrews in downtown Detroit, back when 90% of the good shows played there, which is something that hasn’t happened since the mid-to-late Nineties. But St.Andrews used to do that all the time — they’d say ‘Doors open at 8pm’, and they’d open like an hour later, sometimes longer. I tell you, waiting for whoever to get their shit together and open up when you’re physically waiting out in the weather was truly the Apex of Fun. But I digress.
So we get upstairs and grab a table off to the right. About ten minutes after that, the merchandise guy materialised, offering vinyl, T-shirts, and the coveted volume 2 of ‘Microtronics’. Broadcast has always been a band that have worn their influences proudly on their polyester sleeves, and the Microtronics series is no exception. Basically, it’s their collision of the heyday of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the Manhattan Research Incorporated years of Raymond Scott, and music from science class 8mm filmstrips. Pretty much standard Broadcast fare, only each track is an instrumental averaging about two minutes in length. Plus, the art is done ‘in the library style’, meaning the 3inch Cds look as if they belong on the shelves of a broadcast (ho ho) studio’s library. All of these factors add up to Cds that are required purchases. Besides, they’re a snip at $8..
Round 10pm, the opening act Gravenhurst, from Wales, by their own admission, took the stage. Labelmates of Broadcast, they’re best described as ‘competent’, and ‘indie’, and unfortunately, ‘nothing to write home about’. They had a number of fans amidst the crowd, as signified by the number of ‘wooooo!!‘s between numbers, but you could also chalk that up to people getting their pints in. Unremarkable? Yeah, pretty much. Good try though, lads.
Broadcast went on round 11. Trish, James, and the two new/fill-in blokes played to a by-now full house, performing songs from ‘Tender buttons’, and a couple dating back to ‘The noise made by people’, and going on for about an hour. I had a couple of misgivings when ‘Tender buttons’ came out, as former guitarist Tim Fenton had left the group, bringing the number of original members to two. Not only that, but the recent release had more songs based around a drum machine. Don’t get me wrong, Odhinn knows I love my drum machines, but to me, it initially didn’t jibe with what i considered the ‘original Broadcast sound’, despite the fact that you can hear the change from ‘Work and non work’ up to now. So initially, I was like, I dunno.. Thankfully, they didn’t let me down at all live. Although it was weird to see everyone save the drummer using Roland PC-70s, instead of more traditional analogue keyboards..
Much like New order during the Eighties, Broadcast had to do the double duty thing with their instruments: Jam played synth as well as his bass, the New Guitar Guy played synth as well, and when Trish wasn’t playing her synth, she had this odd little guitar which boasted a large headstock and a shortish neck. (I wish I could remember what it was called, as the name was right there on the pickguard, but I do remember it said ‘London’ beneath the name.) The fill-in lads did a really good job as well; any drummer that can manage to get through their extended concert version of ‘Drums on fire’ and not literally burst into flames can definitely hold his own. And during the encore, they played a really ace version of ‘I found the F’. Nice!
Between their darkly psychedelic Motorik sound and their customary visual backdrop, which consisted of film stock from Sixties and Seventies-era science class filmstrips, it was an excellent show! But it’s Broadcast; you simply can’t go wrong by them..
The three of us stuck round after the performance, cos I wanted to get autographs, like I had done for the past two times Broadcast visited. There was a bit of a wait — Trish and Jam were set upon by four people apiece — but it was definitely worth it. I requisitioned Trish first, and as soon as she got a good look at me, she exclaimed, ‘I remember you! You’re the one with the ace name!’ She even managed to pull Jam’s attention away for a couple of seconds from his own signing frenzy to notice me.
‘It’s something-cat, right?’ she asked.
‘Yep.. Dave. Davecat,’ I replied. ‘I was rather happy to hear that you had a song on the new album called “Black cat”!’ Which is entirely true, as it’s one of my favourite songs on that release, and the title just makes it better.
While she was signing my copy of Microtronics v2, I asked her about that strange guitar of hers, and if she’d found it at a car boot sale. No, you can still find them in shops here and there in England. She mentioned it was just her size!
I got James to sign as well, and asked him, ‘Everytime you guys come to town, you’re missing a member, what’s going on with that?’
‘Well, Tim left cos he wanted to go and do stuff on his own.’
‘Was the split amicable?’
He also mentioned that he wanted to do either two more volumes of Microtronics, or four more volumes of Microtronics. Sounds like a plan!
They’re fine people, Trish and Jam. Wouldn’t hear a word against ’em. Come back soon!