see all the photos from this concert here

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Underworld, London
Saturday October 4 2003
~review and photos by Uncle Nemesis

Bit of an old goths' reunion gig, this one. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry are, of course, an original 80s-vintage outfit, now reformed and back on the circuit. And tonight's two support bands, although relative newcomers to the fray, also have a bit of history behind them in that both contain ex-members of stalwart Brit-scene bands of the 90s. It's no surprise, then, to find that tonight's audience also contains more than a smattering of faces from yesteryear. But nostalgia isn't what it used to be. If the bands on this bill are going to hit any kind of paydirt, they're going to have to do it on the basis of the contemporary scene. They'll need to build up a 2003 audience, rather than rely on tempting the school of '83 or '93 out of the woodwork once more. So, let's cast a twenty-first century eye over the proceedings.

First we have Excession, who seem to be moving away from the ethereal-isms of their early work, towards a more solid, angular sound, somewhat reminiscent of X-mal Deutschland. The vocals have become stronger, and the guitar lays a glassy surface beneath them. Meanwhile, the band have recruited a new bassist - Greg Ferrari of Womb - whose nimble basslines beef up the rhythm quite a bit and underpin Excession's new, more robust, driving sound. It all sounds encouraging, although I can't help noticing that the drum machine beats in the background are starting to sound a little dated and weak, amid the increasingly assertive sound of the band as a whole. Maybe this should be the next area for an upgrade?

Adoration have a name which sounds like it was chosen by the Microsoft Brit-Goth band name generator. Scroll down, click to select: Restoration, Empyrean, Corrosion, Vendemmian... Adoration! Hmm. I wonder, is there any meaning behind the name, or was it simply chosen because...well, it sounds like a goth band? Who knows, but here they are. Four people, all with a bit of previous, for Adoration comprises ex-members of The Faces Of Sarah and This Burning Effigy - only the vocalist is a newcomer, and yet in a way he's the best-known member of the band. John Stone has, for a good few years now, been one of those behind the scenes people who tie all the loose ends together and make everything work. In his time, he's managed assorted 90s goth bands, run fanzines, put in a stint or two as a DJ, and even promoted gigs. The one thing he's never done is actually be in a band himself - until now. And, in a development which completely wrong-foots all the London-scene reprobates who've gathered at the front to heckle, he actually turns out to be rather good. He's got a rip-roaring rock vocal style, and he belts out the lyrics as if he's been doing this all his life. Meanwhile, the band whip up a right old rock storm, which occasionally nods towards Mish-style trad-goth, but more frequently heads off on its own, more contemporary path. This ain't no retro outfit. The sound is punchy, rhythmic - the drum programming in particular is hard-hitting and creative. Yep, it's a result. We'll give Adoration the thumbs up.

And now, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, who announce their set as 'One of our rare London gigs.' Well, given that the band split up over ten years ago, and thus haven't played London for more than a decade, 'rare' is, I suppose, one way of putting it!  Without ceremony, the band pitch in to a set which, as far as I can tell, is exactly the same as their Whitby performance a few months back. Not that this is a problem at all, because songs such as 'Crawling Mantra' and 'Walking On Your Hands' are taut, minimalist masterpieces however often you hear them. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry's particular genius is to create a dense, implacable wall of steampunk sound; no grandstanding, no showing off, just that relentlessly rolling beat and Chris Reed's Marmite-dark vocals running through everything like soup. And, of course, it's all delivered with that glowering, here-we-stand-we-can-do-no-other demeanour, as if the band don't care whether they're loved or hated - they'll just keep on doing their thing, because it *is* their thing. Paradoxically, perhaps, that's quite an attractive stance.

Towards the end of the set, Chris Reed drops a hint that a new album will be along in 2004, so it looks as if the Lorries are back for the long haul. That's welcome news, although it would be nice to be able to get a bit more info about the band's future plans than one cryptic on-stage remark. RLYL still have no web-presence (aside from a variety of outdated fan sites, none of which seem to have noticed that the band are back), and, it seems, no readily available point of contact, or source of information and publicity. I suspect that the band themselves, coming as they do from a period in which all this stuff could be safely left to the record label and the music media, don't realise how essential it is now to take on this kind of work at first hand. The days when the NME would dutifully beat a path to your door at the behest of your PR people are gone, gentlemen. This time round, it's all going to be down to YOU!

see all the photos from this concert here

One of many Red Lorry Yellow Lorry fan sites. Does not contain any up-to-date info, although there is some discussion about RLYL's current activities in the 'Forum' section:



Flag Promotions, promoters of the gig:

Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: