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|Stump / Blue Aeroplanes / Edward Barton / Eat / Summerhill, Electric Ballroom, Camden, London, England
7th January 1989
STUMP / EDWARD BARTON / THE BLUE AEROPLANES / EAT / SUMMERHILL
SUMMERHILL, with flapping shirt-tails and perpetually pumping legs, politely plucked guitar strings and cosy vocal harmonies, are a perfect example of vulnerability and implausibility. They're a couple of years too late. Tonight, they're also the odd ones out.
The inclusion on the bill of Eat and their lack of consideration for conformity is far more understandable. Even if it is utterly uncomfortable. It's partly due to the musical concoction of funk and junk, R&B and country and western. It's partly to do with the tales of terror and titbits of error, inappropriate words and lines such as "I'm drowning in an ocean of calomine lotion." It's altogether a thrill and their vocalist -a man with a hairstyle to match his ruffled larynx - could well be the next Janis
Joplin. Senseless. Splendid.
Bouncing ahead, similar praise cannot be heaped upon headliners, Stump. The curling, collapsing rhythms, the tickle and jab of mercurial melodies, the lyrical gibberish, the jerky gesticulations, are the knock-on effects of a single insistence. The attraction has only ever been their quirkiness, something which, although realised from the very beginning, they've never managed to fully capitalise on. "Buffalo" is, of course, their finest effort, but it's merely a bottom shaker. The vitals are left unmolested. Fish 'n' chips? Bollocks. The between-song banter is entertaining - an indisputably unhealthy indication of their worth - but the best thing about Stump is the band which precedes them. And that's not a reference to Edward Barton, one idiot plus guitar, who's slipped in as an extra-curricular absurdity.
With The Blue Aeroplanes springs another kind of hope. It's infernal. Gerard Langley is at the centre of it all, eight foot tall, his hands grabbing thin air to steady his new found height. As he sings songs of sickness and celebrates the splash of salubrity, all around is movement, a spontaneous human combustion, musicians appearing alongside, behind, slap, bang, straight in front. The flailing arms, balletic twirls and handstands of Wojtek Dmochowski - it's an anagram of The Lobster Quadrille - are maniac by his own comparison. Sometimes the activity can only be heard, melodies leapfroging each other, swirling, churning, stirring, whirring, spinning off, up, up and away. It's like losing a wheel at the speed of light. Pop music has never been so deadly.
The climax comes with "Breaking In My Heart" and even more madness. More guitarists rush onstage. Then more. Then a straggler. Eye witness accounts range from seven to 10. It is impossible to be sure. Several former members of the band, The Jazz Butcher and Chris Roberts are there, the latter struggling to find a spare input socket. He'd been at the bar when the call had come. The song dips and rises, some keeping pace, others ahead of it. There are shoulder barges and nasty accidents. There's one fatality. And his only complaint was about the ignorance of cutting short the set to enable Ed Barton to play.
The Blue Aeroplanes. Whoopee! Everything else seems somehow superfluous.