The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


LIVE REPORT: World Island
JR Moores , November 6th, 2015 00:18

JR Moores braves Hallows' Eve in Leeds for a night of Pretty Lightning, Gnod, Grumbling Fur, Wolf People and Acid Mothers Temple

At Leeds station a man with his face covered in burnt, blistering skin is casually making a withdrawal from a cashpoint. Behind him stands Count Dracula. The Headrow can be a terrifying place on any given weekend, but with Halloween falling on a Saturday it's a whole new level of fright. I pass several staggering zombies and, moments later, a few lads wielding blood-splattered baseball bats. Hopefully the two won't run into each other. Undetected by the wandering hoards of undead, I duck safely into the nearest psych-rock concert. 

On such an esteemed bill, the blues-rocking two-piece Pretty Lightning seem a little out of their depth and the results are only gradually more out-there than what you'd expect from The Black Keys. They're followed by prolonged problems with Gnod's soundcheck. Eventually, Gnod are told they can only play for 30 minutes. Gnod decide to just play one song. Gnod's one song lasts 45 minutes. Classic Gnod. Sort of. As Forrest Gump's mama used to say, "Life is like going to see the Salford-based experimental collective Gnod. You never know what you're gonna get." All the Gnod sets I've ever witnessed have been totally different performances, from phat, spooky Krautrock, through minimalist electronica, to saxophonic improv. This is the first I've seen them resembling anything vaguely along the lines of a more traditional rock band, albeit a pretty strange rock band like Bong or OM. Their one song is a slow, bass-heavy sludge monster with swirly-whirly Hawkwind effects and shouty bad-acid lyrics about there being "too many faces". The audience (g)nods along in unison while two blokes in chequered blazers and pork pie hats stumble around, pumping their fists with approval.

Some sort of hairy Wookie-Jawa lovechild with glowing green eyes wanders onto the stage. It grunts into the microphone, demanding "MORE SMOKE, MORE SMOKE". It is Alexander Tucker from Grumbling Fur, who have risen to the occasion sartorially. His partner, Daniel O'Sullivan, is dressed as a rabbit. Possibly a hare. Or a long-eared dog-type mammal. They play a long, fuzzy rendition of 'Protogenesis' but eschew poppier "hits" such as 'Lightinsisters' or 'All The Rays' in favour of more abstract psych-scapes in front of trippy digital lava-lamp visuals. Inhabiting the characteristics of their costumes, the Tucker-Wookie-Jawa thing bobs around like Sweetums from the Muppets while O'Sullivan's bunny creature bounces up and down excitedly.

"We're not actually Wolf People," announce Wolf People, "that would've been in keeping with Halloween." They're actually a polite-looking quartet of young gentlemen who combine traditional folk melodies and lyrics about mountainsides and lighthouses with Led Zep hard rock riffs. It's a refreshing concoction, if a little civil-sounding, with the odd moment threatening to veer into Spinal Tap 'Stonehenge' territory. Wild Beasts fans will dig it. Wolf People will probably go far. If they get out of here alive. There's a bearded man down the front, dancing like Bez, with Catwoman and a couple of skeletal zombies. Who forgot to seal off the doors and windows? We're doomed.

"Happy Halloween," says Acid Mothers Temple's Kawabata Makoto. He turns to the sound-desk, "My guitar must be loudest for the audience." By their second exuberant interstellar jam, my eyes are already rolling back in my head, my mouth agape. Swaying centre-stage while elegantly manipulating his synth, Higashi Hiroshi begins to resemble a tall, grey-haired llama. Makoto starts to morph into a frizzy-furred axe-shredding lion. And I'm only on my second bottle of Desperado. Mind you, it is laced with tequila. And it's got a bit of lime in it. I'm pretty sure their other guitarist, Tabata Mitsuru, wasn't sporting green hair last time I saw them, ten days ago in a small pub in York. It's unclear whether this bright mane is specifically for Halloween or just what happens when you tour with a Japanese psychedelic rock band. Down the front, the Bez bloke's dancing has improved significantly. It's more fluid now. His hand movements have acquired a more spiritual, flowing motion. He keeps this up for the duration of Acid Mothers' set, not pausing even for the bassist's recorder solo. In the traditional manner, the band ends with a version of 'Pink Lady Lemonade', it's a jauntily astral rendition that my watch informs me lasts for approximately twenty-five minutes. I don't know if it felt longer or shorter, such is that tune's ability to bend all space and time.

Acid Mothers successfully sedate humans and monsters alike so we survive the set unbitten. Our shelter compromised, it's only a matter of time before one of those zombies gets the hunger. It's time to make my break back to the train station. Outside, the apocalypse has escalated. "I'm gonna piss myself!" screams Raquel Welsh from that dinosaur film. "NANDOS!" demands a Roman centurion as he wobbles through a sizable cluster of Lara Crofts. What have they got to do with Halloween? The celebration has apparently become synonymous with National Get Wasted In Fancy Dress Day. I make it to the station alive, only to find my journey will now take place on a replacement bus service. But that's another horror story.