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Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb

Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb
Martin Longley By

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Dinosaur
Hare & Hounds
June 14, 2018

Tonite, for one nite only, this is the band called Dinoseb, or perhaps Polarsaur. For some mysterious reason, Dinosaur's regular sticksman Corrie Dick went missing, to be guest-starred by Seb Rochford, most famed for his own combo, Polar Bear. Even more shocking was the manifestation of this supreme fill-in drummer in his shiny-domed state, now completely hairless after decades of boasting the biggest bush in Britain (at the very least). His distinctive look might have disappeared, but Rochford's distinctive percussive approach remains intact.

The Dinosaur repertoire now rotates around their second album, Wonder Trail (Edition Records). Keyboardist Elliot Galvin's array has lately been shrunk to the tiniest of portable consoles, matching trumpeter Laura Jurd's own electronics unit. She's using this more, but not necessarily at the expense of horn solos, now perfecting the one-handed technique on both instruments. The Dinosaur sound has moved closer to that of rock, pop or electronica outfits, whilst still retaining a strong jazz core, probably most rooted in the early 1970s tribal-Stockhausen avant-funk phase of Miles Davis, though manifested with a more whimsical nature, floaty spacey rather than dirty kosmik.

On "Shine Your Light," Jurd had a pinprick exactness, spouting filament threads, matched by detailed electronic overlays. Rochford's drumming was measured, full of detailed runs and patterns. Next came a muted flugelhorn, then a swift return to trumpet, Rochford swapping rubber for sticks. There was a chirping of tuneful melodies rather than rampant soloing, adopting more of a group vocabulary. The joint vocals have taken on a folksy feel that's reminiscent of This Is The Kit, fey and faint. Conor Chaplin's bass frequently sounds like synth-line lowness. The older "Extinction" opened with a skeletal Medieval funk, shared between trumpet and bass, "And Still We Wander" provided a satisfying conclusion. A certain amount of jazz feel is being lost at the expense of other facets, but Dinosaur are still maintaining the unusual melodic content, still sprinkling starry textures over their compositions, which are increasingly songlike, as opposed to being extended soloing vehicles.

Meatraffle
The Actress & Bishop
June 15, 2018

Meatraffle came up from London, with allegiances to rock, electronica and jazz, in that order. They're signed to the frequently adventurous Moshi Moshi record label. They have a singing and trumpeting frontman (the enigmatic Zsa Zsa Sapien): he's not a maestro horn high-wirer, and he's not a great vocalist, but he has a stranglehold intensity, locked tightly to the keys, guitar, bass and drums, Meatraffle's trance repetitions and dogged layerings. They have messy edges, all the better to bleed out the power of their songs, with the bass of Cloudy Truffles frequently coming to the fore, her deft fingerings crafting compulsive low-lines, and her occasional lead vocal duties offering a melodic contrast to Sapien's narrations.

The Courtesy Group played just before Meatraffle, a local Birmingham outfit who have been together for two decades. Their heavy, chugging, repetitive wordiness recalls other indigenous bands from old times, such as the Noseflutes and The Prefects. Singer Al Hutchins is a communicator in the extreme, joking between songs, committed and menacing whilst in the midst of a ditty. He stalked around, tugging his extended microphone lead, sitting on leather armchairs, hurtling against walls, staring out audience members. Twinned guitars, bass and drums thundered in unison, grinding with metallic angularity. Chaos was controlled.

Hollywood Vampires
Genting Arena
June 16, 2018

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