The Stabbing A Dead Horse Tour
Knifeworld, The Fierce & The Dead, Trojan Horse
Sunday, 28 October 2012
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, the UK
Article And Photos By Jez Rowden
2012 has been a good year for new music from both old favourites and new discoveries and this package coupling three very rewarding new bands
for a particularly reasonable ticket price was a must-see for me.
I was blown away by Knifeworld’s set at this year’s Summer’s End and have been following Matt Stevens’
The Fierce & the Dead since their first release and was looking forward to seeing the band for the first time live.
With Salford’s Trojan Horse completing the line-up this package has been a highly anticipated night out for some time now.
So, with the 8 o’clock door time passed and a curfew at 11 I knew that things would have to move along in a pretty snappy fashion
in order to get change overs done and everything completed on time.
Having expected the show to be in the main room on the third floor I was surprised to be ushered into the much smaller ground floor room
and was immediately concerned about the number of people that the bill would attract on a wet Sunday night.
At its largest the audience appeared to be around 50 which is shocking given the quality of the music and musicians but possibly understandable
given that these bands are an unknown quantity to most.
Luckily what the crowd lacked in numbers they made up for in supportive enthusiasm.
The Fierce & The Dead
At roughly 8.30 The Fierce & The Dead hit the tiny stage to open the evenings’ proceedings and immediately the full power of the new quartet formation became apparent
with a barnstorming surge through 6666 from their latest On V.H.S. EP.
With little room to manoeuvre the band had little space to work and Matt Stevens was in the shadows stage right for most of the set.
Bassist Kev Feazey played a blinder from the front, his deadpan announcements a perfect foil to the more hyper Stevens,
the energy provided by him and drummer Stuart Marshall driving the set along in a way that was common to all three bands tonight.
This was not an evening for introspection as the visceral power possessed by all three bands was visible from the start and made for a high-powered and devastating evenings music.
The guitars of Stevens and Steve Cleaton alternated between sweeping around each other in the interlocking style of later King Crimson
and plunging into slashing power the like of which most punk outfits could only dream.
Add in Stevens’ looping skills and we got a sophisticated and edgy instrumental stew with the power to rip your face off.
Like a coiled spring ready to unwind at a moments notice The Fierce & the Dead skipped smartly through a compact set that left the audience wanting more.
Excellent stuff and well worth the trip on its own, this performance bodes well for the development of the band and what they do next but Matt Stevens and co are,
as always, ones to watch.
Setlist The Fierce & The Dead
After a speedy and efficient change over Trojan Horse arrived to prove that lumberjack shirts and copious amounts of facial hair are not the sole preserve
of bands from the Deep South but also, seemingly, Greater Manchester.
The quartet were the unknown quantity of the night for me having only heard a couple of tracks previously but they immediately flew into one of those,
Fire, and built the set on an energetic and tight performance.
Their material takes elements from a number of different influences and sometimes appears a little scattershot with vocals edging towards being too shouty
but there are plenty of good ideas involved and they are very entertaining and certainly have something that they can build on in the future.
The full-on pace continued throughout the entire set with barely a let up, the tightness of the band making it all very enjoyable.
All of Trojan Horse sing bar drummer Guy Crawford with guitarist Nick Duke making for an engaging frontman.
There are, in fact, three Duke brothers in the band and bassist Lawrence pulled numerous shapes adding to the visual spectacle as did keyboardist
Eden who at one point left his position and danced wildly in front of the monitors that marked the stage perimeter to encouragement and an appreciative response.
A very enjoyable set by an up and coming band working on the edge of prog with much to recommend them,
the exposure that this tour will gain for them will no doubt be good for Trojan Horse.
And so to Knifeworld.
The last time I saw eight people packed so tightly together it was in a lift but the full octet version of the band squeezed into the pitifully tiny stage area
and still managed to give us a wonderful set that was every bit as good as the one they played at Summer’s End about a month before.
A special mention should go to bassist Charlie Cawood who managed a fine performance despite being squeezed between the drums and the three sax front line.
I suspect that he was dreading every cymbal shot from Ben Woollaccott for fear of sustaining lower abdominal lacerations.
With one eye on the clock leader Kavus Torabi led his fabulous band through an intricate set of twists and turns covering older material coupled with a selection of new songs.
Being more familiar with the music this time around I probably enjoyed the set more overall than at Summer’s End and could just enjoy the superb playing
from all concerned whilst noting how well the music comes across.
They may not have had the initial ‘Wow’ factor associated with my first encounter with them but they more than made up for it with a stunning set
of well crafted songs that drew on many influences to produce a breathtaking set.
The sax line stepped up to give the brassy kick necessary for some of the songs and while bassoons are the venerable old granddad of the woodwind family and,
I suspect, not accustomed to having a microphone securely gaffa taped to their extremities – Chloe Herrington perpetrated this deed and,
lo, it was good – the addition of this and clarinet to Knifeworld’s sound is symbolic of the care and attention to detail that goes into their music.
The small size of the room made the sound more intense and not as clear as at Summer’s End but the flip side of being so close to the stage
was that the wind instruments and saxophones were more resonant and integral.
Torabi himself acted as the witty master of ceremonies, wheeling out flailing guitar riffs and in fine voice combining well with co-singer Mel Woods,
the joint effect particularly beguiling, the pair supported well by the backing singers.
Drummer Woollaccott is a monster and the quiet, hunched figure of keyboard man Emmett Elvin let his flying fingers do the talking.
All are supremely accomplished players.
A strange moment mid-set when a tall, Halloween costumed chap in a Hannibal Lecter mask came in, stood in the crowd starring intensely and then left.
Not sure if it was part of the show or just one of those random occurrences that happens at this time of year but the oddness of it made it strangely appropriate.
With the evening speeding past Kavus asked for a time check and decided they could just fit in The Prime of Our Decline
before the finale of the awesome 11 minute Me To the Future of You which simply pummelled the audience into submission,
the perfect way to end such a wonderful evening of experimental yet melodic music.
In my review of The Tangent at the Celebr8 festival in July I stated that that band was a good contender for the best band in the U.K.
but with their recent demise Knifeworld are now my bid for that particular accolade.
None of the bands had time for nor demanded encores and all were very supportive of their fellows and this was that nicest of things,
a fun and collaborative effort of a gig where everyone in attendance wanted it to work and did their best to ensure that it did.
I managed to grab a quick word with Kavus who seemed pleased at how the tour had started, this being the second gig, and with the way it had gone that night.
I hope that this kind of event can work financially as well as artistically as it would be great to see more of this kind of
thing touring up and down the country but the costs of transporting 16+ people and truck-fulls of gear around is never going to be easy.
The numbers in attendance could certainly have been larger but no one involved is under any illusions as to how tricky all this is to pull off.
With any luck a number of new listeners will have had their ears opened to the possibilities of these great bands and the drip-feed effect can encourage
an increase in their audience in the long run. Hopefully this will occur as they all deserve it.
Singled Out For Battery
Don't Land On Me
The Wretched Fathoms
In A Foreign Way
Send Him Seaworthy
The Prime Of Our Decline
Me To The Future Of You
Knifeworld Official Website
Trojan Horse Official Website
The Fierce & The Dead Official Website
Clwb Ifor Bach