Fire! – Cafe Oto – 26/03/16

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Fire! And Water!

Fire! and water. Opposites. Attract. Sunshine. Friday. Stormy. Saturday. Two seasons in two days. The planet warming. Someone’s lying. Rain lashes. Across the central reservation. Small orange Toyata. Speeds south. Relentless. Eating the M40. Like tarmac spaghetti. Digesting miles. Cranking Miles. ‘Bitches Brew’. Spills from the speakers. Clipping the edges of distortion. The hangover kid slumbers. Somewhere in our molecules. The anticipation. Of something. Of something special. Something radical. Something radically special. Crawling. Past Euston. Past Marylebone. Onwards King’s Cross. Station to station. Heading due East. To the land of beards. To the land of cereals. Acres of tweed. And plaid. Fields of golden nuggets. Somewhere near Capital Radio. We cross the Tottenham Court Road. Rapid burst of what sounds like automatic gunfire? The hangover kid. At once alert! Shock! Awe! Two hearts. Skip beats. As one. Browning M2? An engine? A pneumatic drill? A Kango? Nothing on the radio. Silence is the code. Static strafes the airwaves. We. Will. Never. Know. Tension mounts. The traffic. The fucking traffic. Even at 8pm at night. Does this need to be somewhere sooner rather than later never end? Through Highbury and Islington. Further East. Past the Macdonald’s where the drunken lady pretended to be sober. Deep into Dalston. Up the junction. Last few hundred metres. On foot. Satnav locked onto Cafe Oto. Twenty yards. Ten yards. In the yard. In the door: 8.30pm. Digging through the crates. I could drop a pony. Easy. Coke in bottle. The hangover kid smokes. Out on the veranda. Two hundred sharp dressed shadows flit across the backlit brick walls. Mingling. Expectantly. 9pm: stage time. Polite house introduction. Ladies and gentleman: Fire! And then they are here. Mats Gustafsson (saxophone and electronics), Johan Berthling (electric bass guitar), and Andreas Werliin (drums). Attack! Attack! Werliin drops a beat. Berthling assaults his bass. Switching from pick to thumb. Dexterity personified. Gustafasson skronks. He howls. He barks. He huffs. He puffs. He blows the house down. From time to time. Squiggles. Bleeps. Sonic punctuation. Squall. Recognition. Jams lifted from ‘You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago'; much from ‘(Without Noticing)'; a soupçon of ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps'; a cover vershun. A homage.  A tribute. A first. Apparently. ‘Would I Whip’ antagonises the audience. To sway. Perchance to groove. Caps doff. Hats at an ever-jauntier angle. Sweat drips. Heads nod. Chins be-stroked. Eyes closed in wonder. Imaginations fired. As the notes run. Wild. Fire! And skill. Placing much of what has come before on this soldier’s journey firmly in the shade. Hold on. Hold on! No more rock’n’roll. What a con. Silly little leopard skins on. Les Paul singy-song-song. Nah. Up and beyond. Over the wall. Gonna break out of this city. Another world. Another planet. The time has come. There will be no more looking over the shoulder from here on in. The future lies ahead down the highway. The past is another county. Fire! is here. Fire! is now.

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Jean Encoule - March 27th, 2016

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