It was a night so cold that face stubble receded to search for warmth and involved a walk long enough to worry time zones, but all was forgotten at The Unicorn, Camden on the last Friday of January 2015, thanks to a trio of bands which left the senses reeling and emotions elevated. The night marked the return of the venue’s Post-Punk Club, and the dramatic union of what are three of the UK’s most uniquely original and inventive bands right now.
Anticipation was already a heady brew for Cauldronated, the new band of Dave Barbarossa of Adam and The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Republica, Chicane… the list goes on…fame. An appetite sparked by his history and confirmed thanks to already unleashed tracks and videos. Equally there was a seriously pricked intrigue in the prospect of being introduced to two artists with a healthy buzz around them, Sebastian Bartz and Dave.I.D. It proved to be an adventure which threw assumptions and expectations to the floor and set about stirring up blood, energies, and emotions.
The night opened with the post punk voracity of Sebastian Bartz. As became the norm for the night, the quartet of musicians arrived as good as unannounced, as every song on the night from all bands (our only niggle), and swiftly unleashed a sonic tonic for the senses with immediate effect. Song after song was sculpted around a seriously potent rhythmic frame, with the drummer especially stealing attention in a couple of the tracks, including the closing treat from the band. To this guitar and keys added their often raw and always impressively toxic melodies as Sebastian prowled and sized up each song and audience member with a belligerent but endearing androgynous theatre. Fresh to the presence of the man, it is fair to say that he and the band impressed unreservedly, every second of sound and twist of lyrical spite accompanied with addictive antagonism and contagious craft. Equally there was a power and attitude expelled which often pushed tracks to their rawest limits, and caused ears to wilt under the sonic force offered though they only remained hungry for more, especially with tracks like She’s Gone which was amongst so many standing out, but the only one with a title known. Not letting a broken guitar string deter the onslaught of post punk imagination and intimidating devilry from songs and band, Sebastian Bartz powerfully proved why he has the reputation of being one of the really exciting propositions of the London live scene.
It is clear that the majority of the audience was there for one particular thing, to see Cauldronated, which left Dave I.D. who closed the night, staring at only a handful of certainly keen and attentive bodies. It was a shame as the solo musician captivated with his heavily atmospheric and soulful sounds. His hands were often a frantic movement spinning a web of musical invention with his varied equipment whilst his creative nature was a twitch of vocal angst and expression. There is a dark emotion to his industrial seeded music and sobering lyrics which challenges and transfixes simultaneously. Also there is an underlying anger which skilfully colours his music and on the night seemingly erupted with a flying drum stick, though if in frustration at the lack of bodies before him it was possibly understandable, his compelling set deserved, as his emotive sounds, more.
Splitting the two was Cauldronated with a performance which blew away man and night alike. As mentioned the newest project of Dave Barbarossa, the band took merely the initial tempting of opener iBossa to bind attention and imagination, never relinquishing it until the last beat and note of the demanded encore. On stage the band is driven by Dave’s still strikingly potent and inspirational rhythmic craft; in fact ‘still’ does him an injustice as much heard on the night left marks surpassing a lot of his legendary history in invention and sheer agility. In front of him stood the vocal, lyrical, and occasionally rhythmic drama that is Italian extrasolar poetess Eva Menon. The lady has a presence which forcibly lures attention yet is as organic and natural as it comes, well until she unleashes her lyrical tirade which just enthrals and sparks in ears and imagination. Eva has a stage scowl, a leering confrontation which is not forced but part of the whole impacting incitement that is Cauldronated yet also an underlying mischief which could not stop breaking out through smiles on the night, especially to the birthday wishes flung her way.
As said opening with the exceptional iBossa, which as all their songs sounds even more powerful and infectious live, there was the feeling that if they could straight away uncage a fan favourite there was bigger treats to come, and so it proved. Songs like Buy This Thing and In This World left bodies and emotions enslaved, Dave’s ridiculously creative and addictive beats turning feet and limbs into his own personal puppets whilst Eva has thoughts bound with her scythes and lashings of vocal and lyrical confrontation. Of course around this, binding their ingenious strikes are the adventurously melodic and creative sounds of David Harman, absent on stage but lighting up every song with imagination and worldly temptation through his recorded enterprise.
The band’s incredibly rousing set flew by in a blink, but every minute was a standout muscular and tenaciously seductive flirtation. The band’s bio call their sound punky, drum-centric techno, surely after such a stunning performance, it should be merely tagged as alchemy. As mentioned it seemed like the whole night was there for Cauldronated, the likes of Andy Dukey from London based band Top Buzzer and Johnny Summer, the head of the Reputation Radio Station, adding their enthusiastic moves to a seriously invigorated and healthy crowd.
Dave Barbarossa is no stranger to helping create and driving forward some important moments in the history of the British music scene, and he with Eva and David Harman could just be poised to do it again. Certainly with the equally stand-out performances of Sebastian Bartz and Dave.I.D backing them up, Cauldronated has given London an early pinnacle in its live scene for 2015.
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