Last night I went with my pal and gig-pimp Pete Ashton to see Damo Suzuki – former member of legendary krautrock band Can – perform at my erstwhile local muso boozer, the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath. Frankly, I’m still trying to process the evening’s events through my caffeine- and stress-addled synapses. It was, to coin a phrase I’m more than partial to using, buggier than batshit.
Which is a good thing, by the way.
Essentially, the gig was of a series of improvisational jams with Damo providing the vocals and various local bands including The Modified Toy Orchestra and The Courtesy Group providing the backing. But that doesn’t really do it justice. It was very experimental and very avant-garde – in other words, the kind of things that have been known to trigger in me the involuntary rhythmic cupped-hand ideomotor response that denotes the phrase “wanker”. But despite sailing perilously close to the treacherous waters of “Jazz Odyssey”, it managed to be wonderful and sublime and left me grinning like a simple child.
For me, the highlight of the evening had to be Damo’s jam with The Courtesy Group, who also hosted the event. It lasted about an hour, and featured some stunning improvisational work from the lead singer of the CGs [Sorry, I don’t know his name – being an old-fart with a full-time job, I’m not hip on these things – dig?]. It was like watching a human beatbox at work, and reminded me of Tom Waits or Captain Beefheart. These are good things to be reminded of, by the way. When he wasn’t, um, singing along with Damo he was carefully tearing strips from a copy of the local newspaper, the Birmingham Mail. At first, I naively thought it was a very subtle form of subliminal percussion, but it later dawned on me that this was probably a variation of William Burroughs’ famous cut-up technique and he was using the random juxtaposition of hard-hitting local news stories and unrivalled local sports coverage as prompts for his improvisational rants. Whatever the case, it was the most productive and inspirational use of the local rag that I’ve seen outside of a fish-and-chip shop.