Thursday 24 January 2013, 16:37
Thurston Moore and John Moloney, Comply or Die
Stiff Kitten, Belfast
Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013
When boundlessly influential New York quartet Sonic Youth announced they were going on hiatus last year, Thurston Moore – one of indie rock's true elder statesmen - suddenly found himself a free agent able to pursue his many, genre-spanning side-projects. Amongst his more free-form endeavours, tonight he stops off in Belfast for the last show of a six-date Irish tour with Sunburned Hand of the Man drummer John Moloney. Expectation could not higher.
With Moore stood at the “Merch and Destroy” table signing self-made ‘zines, local noiseniks Comply or Die tear through an unreservedly raging set that has your one-time impartial reviewer more than happy to re-align his opinion almost immediately. The sound is gargantuan and the band – a linear battalion firing on all noise-rock cylinders – are on stellar form throughout. Opener ‘Sixes’ is frantic and urgent in equal measure and new material including ‘Bishop’, with its exhilarating, jam-like middle and frontman Michael Smyth’s superb guitar work, stand out in a set from a band whose third album can’t come soon enough.
Shortly afterwards, with the crowd bustling with gushing fanboys and girls, Thurston Moore and John Maloney take to the stage to a smattering of applause. Casually conversing the crowd, Moore orders Guinness from the stage and precedes opener ‘I Come To Get Wasted’ by stating his appreciation of Shellshock Rock, John T. Davis’ documentary about the Northern Irish punk scene of the late 70s.
A fierce, hardcore number, its refrain of “You’re never really alone,” heralds a feedback-drenched, whammy bar-abused bridge – the exact type that has granted Moore his nigh on peerless guitar hero status. A cacophonous wall of sound erupts as swathes of supremely atonal soundwaves surge from within Moore and throughout the room.
Deciding to hold a quiz in which answers include champ and Belfast punk band The Outcasts, Moore works the crowd, revealing a charm, sense of humour and level of affability at stark contrast to the "difficult" personality he has exuded at certain points of his career. With off-the-cuff references to everything from how “gangsta” Limerick is to "Seamus O'Heaney", Moore entertains yet more with some truly exquisite bursts of Beat-inspired poetry.
Mid-set highlights include new songs ‘See-Through Playmate’ and ‘Burroughs’ as well as ‘Ono Soul’ and ‘Queen Pee and Her Pals’, Moore solo tracks less inclined towards the frantic, at times jaw-droppingly impressive discordance of the new material (in itself wonderfully reminiscent of early Sonic Youth albums EVOL and Bad Moon Rising). The standout highlight, however, is when Moore leaps into yet another sonic exorcism towards the end. Channelling thoughts and ghosts with unbridled virtuosity, he sways, eyes closed, manipulating his whammy bar and guitar neck until the notes squeal, bray and moan out like fragments of the past. The crowd are practically deferential.
At the end up, with Moore politely refusing a request from a man in the crowd to play (Sonic Youth track) ’Silver Rocket’ for "my friend Alan” via “I’m sorry, we don’t take requests”, the 54-year old concludes an unforgettable performance with a genuinely touching one-two comprised of a brief poem titled' Heaven Metal' and two-chord, solo number ‘Psychic Hearts’. Ending on the line "I will always love you," it’s all but impossible not to think of Moore’s ex-wife/band member of twenty years in Kim Gordon. More tellingly, it’s that little bit more impossible not to deem this is one of the most thoroughly inspiring gigs Belfast has or is ever liable to play host to.
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Thursday 24 January 2013, 16:11
Friday 25 January 2013, 11:24