Lovecraft - The Grey
Live Review

Lovecraft – The Grey, Liverpool

Look out! There’s a band to get excited about from Liverpool! They’re brave enough to disregard local fashions and national band wagons…and can actually back it up with good tunes. In fact, there may be a new generation of do-it-yourself bands forming, and what better way to celebrate than at the opening night of cultural hive The Grey, boasting a line-up of two hot new local bands and an anti-comic legend Ted Chippington.

Members of Stig Noise Sound System are on the door, behind the bar and djing, Apatt have come along to show support, and even the godfather of DIY music The Fall’s Mark E. Smith is in the crowd…this is going to be special.

From the time Lovecraft take their places on stage you are made privy to their own brand of “Psychedelic Victorian Garage Dadaist Pop Soul” as their myspace says…I couldn’t put it better myself. The world they conjure and beckon you into with a twisted dirty finger is a gnarled sepia photogram that hangs with a fug-scent of rising damp and incense.

On a space ship.

In Toxteth.

In regards to their namesake, they seem to take as much influence from writer H.P Lovecraft’s gothic sci-fi horror tales of the cosmic and bizarre as the 60’s Psych band named after him.

They may be first on the line up but they get the most rapturous reception all night in this well packed little venue. This band have it all worked out, the played down Victorian costumes and the individual personas: Chris Jackson and Clair Dowling in front on synth and keyboard are deadly serious, Karen Timms serene on bass, Ben Durr on drums and Doc Horror on guitar take more obvious pleasure in performing, and charismatic frontman and self professed cosmic channeler Craig Sinclair is both theatrical and sincere – over the course of the set he employs some hysterically weird brace stretching and bowler hat tipping. The repertoire ranges from sweet warped love songs ‘Baby Jeans’, funky guitar foot stompers with sci-fi theremin wobbles like ‘Hells Teeth’, and even an ode to Jade Goodie. But real stand out track for me is ‘Sky Stalks’, a beautiful woozy psych goth mélange about falling in love with a witch doomed to burn at the stake. Sinclair may not thank Glasswerk for pointing it out but the track definitely has an aura of the Bunnymen’s ‘Killing Moon’ about it, not least because of his striking vocals. Fans of the local scene may recognise that the group are members or ex-members of other bands, but I’m not going to be the one to spoil the mystery for those who don’t know, Lovecraft should be discovered and celebrated in their own right. All in all, they are more enchanting than the Horrors could ever hope to be.

“This is the new underground” shouts Pete Bentham when he and his band The Dinner Ladies take to the stage. He just might be right, but it’s also the title of one of their many witty songs of Kitchen-sink punk rock n roll, or Kitchencore! As they have brilliantly titled it. The girls are bubbly, full of energy and look fantastic in their customized tunics and rubber gloves. They all introduce themselves and play a little solo: Audrey Heartburn is on drums, Marigoldy plays bass and Pete is on guitar and vocals. They open with ‘The Boy With Magazines’, a catchy upbeat number about “People who buy glossy mags in the hope it will make their life better.” Pete covers breaks with funny banter, and asks the audience for ideas on bands that should play at a hardware themed festival eg. Nine Inch NAILS, mc HAMMER…see? “Bringing a whole new meaning to DIY music!” The highlight track for me is fast paced ‘The Che Guevara Thing’. Well worth spending your dinner money on.

As with many small gigs around here, the headliner gets the smallest audience, but for once that suits this performer just fine. For those unaware of Ted Chippington, he is a comic who is said to have started doing his act back in the 80’s “to annoy people”. Tonight he wanders on stage inconspicuously, taking the crowd by surprise when he starts telling his non-jokes over loud funereal organ music. My favourite insight of the evening went something like, ” I was walking down the road, then I caught a taxi, it took me everywhere I wanted to go, and I didn’t meet anyone at all.” Brilliant. His mate Mark E. Smith shouts suggestions from the side of the stage, and Ted refuses every one. As he continued to perform his version of well known songs in as listless a fashion possible, half of us quietly move towards hysteria, while the people at the back chat loudly. Ted is unfazed of course. “They’re only talking, and that’s all I’m doing.” This is the man, after all who stopped performing because he was getting too popular, so it seems he is now right back where he likes to be.

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