Liverpool Sound City 2014: Mixhell, The Radiophonic Workshop, Physics House Band, Public Access TV


Electronica from a future past collides with Brazilian sonics very much of the now, Getintothis’ Andy Kelly rounds off Sound City definitively on a high.

‘It’s great to have a stage where we can put out all our toys’ say The Radiophonic Workshop, clearly chuffed with how things are stacking up in Nation.
And what toys they’ve got with them, from vintage analogue equipment to reel to reel tape decks and a Theremin right up to the now ubiquitous modern laptops.
There’s so much stuff on stage I can’t actually see the drummer until he leaves the stage. It’s geek heaven.
Formed in the late 50s, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in Maida Vale was tasked with producing theme songs and incidental music for the corporation’s radio and TV shows up until its closure in 1998.
As such it has provided a soundtrack for many of our lives not least with those famous theme songs and, yes, especially THAT one.
Tonight’s superb set is made up of various pieces from the Workshop’s history, from classics right up to new compositions set to be released later this year.
The music is enhanced with fascinating video clips spanning the decades while each of the orchestra members takes to the mic to introduce a piece, adding extra context and insight.
Inevitably perhaps it’s the science fiction pieces which resonate most, as we watch rockets and satellites blast into space from Sputnik to Apollo to the Shuttle.
The music evokes a marvellous sense of the unknown, of the great adventure but also of a world changing forever and the fear of what lies beyond, not least as the Cold War kicks in and we see footage of nuclear tests and their devastating effects.
There’s a treat for sci-fi fans as a segment pays tribute to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with its composer Paddy Kingsland right here on the Nation stage while Joe Meek‘s work in sound is recognised in the excellent Telstar.
There’s a few moments where the noodling feels a little too random and the odd spot of charming amateurism as songs are started and abandoned but even if a piece doesn’t quite work there’s another one along quickly to fill the gap.
Wireless produces some of the most famous clips from radio, managing to combine wartime propaganda with Fluff Freeman, the shipping forecast and Martin Luther King to wonderful effect.
But there’s only one way to end and that’s with the Workshop’s most famous piece, the late Delia Derbyshire‘s legendary electronic reworking of the Dr Who theme.
It’s quite frankly incredible, from that other-worldy opening into a galloping rush towards a bright new dawn in its mid-section. There are grown men close to tears as Tom Baker‘s face beams down from the video backdrop. Perfect.
The Physics House Band at the Black-E
Up at the Black-E and I’m fearing a big comedown as The Physics House Band start rather unpromisingly with their quiet/loud template sounding all too familiar.
And then something amazing happens. It’s not often a gig crowd are focused almost entirely on the drummer but Dave Morgan simply takes this night over.
His face is a mass of contortions, almost gurns, as he drives his two colleagues on, failure simply not an option.
The songs improve too as the quiet sections become more melodious while the explosive climaxes abandon the standard post rock template with elements of prog and a harder edge creeping in.
I’d be happy to have them in my lab any time.
A quick stop at the Zanzibar for the first UK gig by New York City’s Public Access TV who only played their first gig in January but found it packed with the NYC cool crowd thanks to the huge amount of hype foisted upon them.
They’ll have found a rather sparsely-populated Zanzibar a somewhat chastening experience (most of Liverpool was dancing to The Tea Street Band at the time) but didn’t let it put them off their enthusiastic stride as the four-piece deliver an enjoyable set which, yes, does sound a bit Strokesy in places but also nods towards that collegey Vampire Weekend vibe while frontman John Eatherly has a hint of Jonathan Richman in his vocal delivery. More to come one suspects.
And finally to Mixhell and I can only say that Liverpool Sound City 2014 saved its best until the end.
Ex-Sepultura drummer Igor Cavalera and his DJ/producer wife Laima Leyton quite simply produce a stunning set of screaming electronica, massive beats and live drumming which has the Kazimier absolutely bouncing.
There are smiles everywhere, arms in the air, weary limbs long forgotten. Quite simply, a perfect end to another fantastic festival.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Sakura and Gaz Jones
Further reading on Getintothis
Liverpool Sound City 2014 Review: Day One Round Up.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 Merseyside bands to watch
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 international bands to watch.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 UK bands to watch.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis‘ guide to the venues.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Things to do off the beaten track.
* John Cale – the grit in the oyster that shaped the sound we worship today.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Revo‘s routeplanner – the insider’s guide.
*Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis presents Jon Hopkins and stellar Merseyside show at Nation.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Fringe events and John Peel World Cup revealed.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: The Hold Steady ready to bear their teeth.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 – a Getintothis festival playlist.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 add The Kooks to festival bill.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: He used to come round wearing make up and strange Japanese Kimono clothing – David Pichilingi.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: Jon Hopkins, Albert Hammond Jnr, Drenge and more for May festival.
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 announce headliners Kodaline plus Gruff Rhys and Fuck Buttons for May festival
* Liverpool Sound City 2014: John Cale and Thurston Moore head up Conference speakers
* Liverpool Sound City 2014 reveal football, music and style themes
* Liverpool Sound City 2013: Top 10 bands and review round up of the festival