Bas Productions brought Yuletide offerings to music fans in the South East with a special ‘Christmas Box’ show at The Ship in Leigh-on-sea.
Following the success of ‘The Box’ featuring STRANGERS, SINESTAR and MODOVAR, the second show in the series underlined the aspirations of the Bas team by bringing fresh young talent such as CURXES and AUTOMATIC WRITING to an appreciative audience. Despite the near inaccessibility of the venue on the Essex coast, it proved to be a fine location to showcase these acts to a near capacity crowd.
The Electricity Club provided the between bands music and it was pleasing to have curious listeners seek out the identity of several tracks in the DJ sets as opposed to requesting the same old electro standards. Synth classics from DEPECHE MODE, GARY NUMAN and JOHN FOXX were of course present for the post-bands party with Steve Thorogood but these were mixed in with newer offerings like the sensational ‘Trust’ from SIN COS TAN. Bas Productions and The Electricity Club are kindred spirits and share the same ethos of not just discovering new electronic music but also recognising musical history by highlighting how this new guard have got here.
First up this evening were OBERHEIM, a quartet best known for their day job as SPEAK & SPELL, the world’s premier DEPECHE MODE tribute act. Very much a work-in-progress, this was their debut appearance playing original material, the most immediately appealing of which was ‘Witch’.
Tracks such as ‘Sugar’ and ‘Phoenix’ also indicated their potential while an electronic 12 bar schaffel was a prominent rhythmical feature during the set. Keith Trigwell, Joe Beaumont and Matt Waghorne all maintained a confident air but it was a bit strange not to see singer Paul Wood bare chested! of OBERHEIM are in a bit of a strange conundrum though; sound too much like DM and they will be critically crucified yet if they deviate too much from that template, they risk alienating their potential fanbase. Where they go from here will be interesting but they have a few songs that could go all the way once further work is undertaken.
London’s AUTOMATIC WRITING are visually, a record company’s dream and musically, brought some new wave experimentation and Oblique Strategies to the party. The two extremely handsome Merrick brothers presented a sombre synth template integrated with noisy post-punk guitar and afflicted baritone vocals. Neave Merrick came over as a very charismatic front man while Jamie stood impassively with some of the more alcoholically refreshed onlookers probably wondering why Russell Brand had taken up the synthesizer!
The distortion in AUTOMATIC WRITING’s live sound could be a bit overbearing at times though…a less ragged sonic balance might have allowed them to be more immediately accessible but their tuneage capability was certainly apparent in the two songs from their excellent double headed single ‘Falling’ and ‘Continuous’. Earlier single ‘Crystal Visions’ and its PET SHOP BOYS stylings reminiscent of ‘The Samurai In Autumn’ helped make it an absorbing set overall. While AUTOMATIC WRITING are a bit rough round the edges, further experience can only see them soar to wider recognition.
A good example of this manifested progression are CURXES who have spent a year in continued development since their impressive debut London appearance at TEC001. Producing electro-goth overtures such as ‘Spectre’ and ‘Haunted Gold’ while supporting cult female artists such as KARIN PARK and POLLY SCATTERGOOD, they have reached out to further acclaim and have deservedly made the longlist of ‘The Blog Sound of 2013′. And if that wasn’t enough, in data compiled by Hype Machine for ‘The 2012 UK Music Blog Zeitgeist’, they were listed as the 11th most blogged act in the UK ahead of such luminaries as GRIMES and CHVRCHES!
Headlining ‘Christmas Box’, their performance was blistering with singer and keyboardist Roberta Fidora’s delivery akin to a possessed post-war housewife like Siouxsie Sioux trapped in the body of Delia Derbyshire! During the spirited DM/KRAFTWERK hybrid of ‘Once Upon A Time’, Roberta got off the stage and preached among the audience. However, her enthusiasm slightly got the better of her when she returned and kicked the audio lead out of the band’s Macbook! The backing track ground to a halt but like consummate professionals, there was a quick adjustment and CURXES continued where they left off (and bang on cue too)! “It was a protest against Apple” she later joked.
CURXES’ multi-instrumentalist Macaulay Hopwood ably absorbed the energy of the evening on guitar, bass, glockenspiel and during ‘The Constructor’, a Roland JP8000 while stage left, the pair were augmented by STRANGERS’ Raife Hacking on drums. With Macaulay often moonlighting with STRANGERS, this was the completion of the ultimate wife-swap with Raife performing admirably in neo-improvisation for his first gig with CURXES and adding a percussive bite to the aural ferocity.
In keeping with the time of year, Raife left the stage for Roberta and Macaulay to perform their cover of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, a song that has been performed by many including JUDY GARLAND, FRANK SINATRA and THE PRETENDERS. Grown men who were already dumbstruck by Roberta’s allure were now putty in her hands as they sang along with her to the song’s final refrain.
So there it was, a perfect end to the year for Bas Productions. 2013 will see them take on their most ambitious project yet in BAS2013 by coinciding this pilgrimage for The Devoted with a real live DEPECHE MODE visit to London…it’s going to be a busy week at the end of May!
The Electricity Club’s DJ set by Steve Gray with Chi Ming Lai
DEPECHE MODE Tora! Tora! Tora!
MODOVAR Same Old Scene
GOLDFRAPP Ooh La La
TENEK What Do You Want?
ULTRAVOX All Stood Still
HURTS Better Than Love
CHVRCHES The Mother We Share
DEPECHE MODE It Doesn’t Matter Two (EMP Remix)
THE KNIFE Silent Shout
MIRRORS Into The Heart (Marsheaux Greek Girls Are Not Easy Radio Mix)
KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux Radio Mix)
ASSOCIATES 18 Carat Love Affair
TIGA & ZYNTHERIUS Sunglasses At Night
YAZOO Nobody’s Diary
WHITE LIES To Lose My Life (Filthy Dukes Remix)
DEPECHE MODE Route 66 (Beatmasters Mix)
SINESTAR Hurricane (Pinckney Mix)
STRANGERS Shine On You (Sensual Harrassment Mix)
The Electricity Club gives its thanks to everyone at Bas Productions
Bas Productions’ next event will be BAS2013, a three day festival celebrating the music and legacy of DEPECHE MODE. The event will run from Saturday 25th May 2013 until Monday 27th May 2013. Confirmed to appear so far are SPEAK & SPELL, SINESTAR, CURXES, AUTOMATIC WRITING and noted harpist MICHAL MATEJCIK with his unique take on the music of DM. More acts will be added to the line-up. Please visit the BAS2013 Facebook Event Page and www.basproductions.co.uk for more details and updates.
Text and photos by Chi Ming Lai
19th December 2012