As the pioneering Silver Apples belie their years with a pulsating performance of youthful enthusiasm, Getintothis’ Paul Higham looks on as the baton is passed to the emerging new pretenders.
In the immediate euphoric aftermath of a great gig, music journalists are often prone to hyperbole. Shows are routinely lauded as the best thing ever until, that is, the next one. Now we’re not going to proclaim Silver Apples at The Kazimier to be the best thing ever. It was pretty great and felt like a special treat, but the greatest? Not quite.
Do excuse us however if we indulge, just a little, in a bit of hyperbolic licence. Silver Apples were, quite simply, one of the most influential musical and artistic forces of the second half of the twentieth century. Take the words written, quite correctly we hasten to add, about The Velvet Underground after the untimely death of Lou Reed last year and apply them equally to Silver Apples. Pioneering, original and ahead of his time, Simeon laid the framework for much of what encompasses modern electronica.
It would not be overstating it too much to suggest that, were it not for them, and him in particular, the path of popular music might have taken a different course. His influence on electronica, psychedelia and even krautrock is pervasive and profound.
It was therefore with a visceral sense of anticipation that an expectant crowd gathered in the warmth of The Kazimier to see the now 76 year old and increasingly frail Simeon perform solo under the Silver Apples moniker. If his body showed signs of the effects of age, his music was delivered with a vigour and intensity that belied his years.
Perched behind an impressive array of kit, much of which he constructed himself, it felt like Simeon was making a pitch to be the world’s oldest DJ. Where many of his age are content with pipe, slippers and a cup of cocoa, to see him create music that remains challenging and arresting was an invigorating experience.
The trademark whirr of vintage oscillators were present and correct and used to terrific effect, adding texture and aural depth to his music. His keyboard playing was direct and powerful and the whole sound was augmented by pulsating and rhythmical hard house beats.
Dispelling initial fears that his voice would be lost in the mix, he was in excellent voice. At times it was necessary to pinch yourself to believe he was singing live and the vocal tracks were not computer-generated.
Oscillations, The Silver Apples‘ ‘hit’, was played with gusto and sounded transformed and was lapped up by an audience that had gleefully abandoned itself to the shamanic power of the beat. Intoxicating and messianic, a quirky oddity of a bygone age reimagined as a trance club anthem. It was quite magnificent.
Sankofa opened the night with a mesmerising set of powerful west-coast influenced psychedelia. Blessed with a terrific and reverb-laden voice, the group excel in transcending their influences creating a full and distinctive sound that is very much their own. Undoubted set highlight was new single, Grasp, suggesting the ever-improving band might just be on the verge of something special.
Strange Collective must be one of the most hardworking bands on the Liverpool circuit right now. Seemingly on every bill under the sun, they are fast building a reputation as one of the best bands around. On this evidence it is blindingly obvious why so many hold them in such high regard.
Aptly named, the band give an impression of sometimes playing three songs at the same time with the bass player and the two guitarists each appearing to head in divergent directions. That this musical tension resolves as they coalesce as one is testament to their abilities – and also the tightness that only comes through well-honed hard work.
Musically they betray influences of the current San Francisco scene. Without ever sounding derivative, they recall the likes of White Fence‘s Tim Presley and Thee Oh Sees‘ John Dwyer while capturing their own sound. Loud, garage-y and, above all, a lot of fun they are on course to be huge in 2015.
We are expecting big things from Whyte Horses, the final band on the undercard. Recent single The Snowfalls has proved a surefire internet hit and so it was a tad disappointing to find the band struggle to forge a unique sound in the live arena. Appearing like a hippified Goat, they certainly look and sound the part, clothing hinted at mystical elements while the array of percussive instruments wielded by the backing singers suggested a depth and variety to their sound.
Alas, their performance felt slightly leaden and a little ponderous. There was a strong sense of a band finding its feet and trying to break free from the inhibiting shackles of their influences.
That said, it is early days for the group. With this only their second performance we’re sure that there will be plenty for fans of the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre to enjoy as they find their feet, fine-tune their performance and grow in confidence. On this evidence, they’re not quite there yet but we’ll certainly watch on with interest.
If not quite the best gig ever, it felt a special night. A privilege to witness not only a pioneer at such close quarters, but also some of the finest emerging acts around. And who knows, maybe the current crop of undoubted talent will be so inspired by Silver Apples to invent their own unique and pioneering sound.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Tom Adam