Damo Suzuki – Resurrection Men – The Tin Music and Arts – Coventry – 12th February 2020
Damo Suzuki is a true experimental music legend, best known for his work with the brilliant Can he now performs as ‘Damo Suzuki Network’ performing with ‘Sound Carriers’ – local musicians he picks up on tours. In this case it’s Fighting Boredom favourites Resurrection Men. To say that we are looking forward to this performace would be an understatement.
The Tin is full of heads, old heads and new, the usual manic crowd following in the wake of the Resurrection Men and a bunch of serious looking older heads who are here for the man from Can. There’s a good feeling in the room and the place fills up quickly.
Resurrection Men have Brendan sitting with his foot encased in a black support, they blast into fast rock’n’roll and the boogie is heavy and hard. The two vocalists are cool, there’s a real edge to the sound tonight. As with every other time I’ve seen him, the bassist is facing the drums, he doesn’t turn around despite extended encouragement by the seated Brendan. They play with a surging looseness and a relaxed heavy groove that lurches, stops, starts, and pretty much jams until it bleeds.
Brendan says he is in a better state than Saturday, there’s laughter and my source concurs. They bring in another fast groove, led by a brutal, punk feeling, bass line and the vocal is right on the edge of reason, high and discordant. They then slow down and focus their aggression into a loitering Sabbath type riff, it fades to a whine that you know is going to explode and kick you in the gut and they don’t disappoint.
The music is loud, low and feels like being lost at sea in a lifeboat miles from any friendly shore and fathoms from the black sea floor. The grey clouds whip across the sky and you sink deeper into a dry trance. Guitars drive the sound on powerfully and the feeling is of destruction. It seems to go on forever.
The kids at the front are going for it now, hair everywhere. The dirty rock’n’roll sounds brilliant and as they slip into a hammering psych break it just gets better. The riffs get bigger and everything else grows too, it’s slow, dirty and loose, I don’t know how this place can hold the sound in. The vocal is tortured and screamed, drawn out and fits the music like a glove.
They shift to a menacing feel, there’s a pure punk Black Flag bassline, the shifting high whine of the guitars echoes Klaus Flouride and Ben’s drum hold it down with a beat that Fugazi wouldn’t chuck away. The sound is wonderful, it’s an echo of the past but it’s feeling like right now tonight and it’s music to lose yourself in. This is a sound that you could tear chunks off, you could lean on it it’s that solid. If they are nervous about the set they are playing to follow this backing Damo Suzuki then they don’t show it, not even a sweat is broken. They say thank you and just tell us they’ll be back in ten minutes or so.
The guitarist comes back on and manipulates glorious whines and bursts of feedback from his instrument, the bassist manipulates the electronics at the back of the stage, still not facing the audience. Damo comes onstage, he is small and fragile looking with long grey hair. He leans into the microphone and here we go. He sounds like a mad delta blues singer, there’s no discernable lyrics, the music carries on underneath the vocal that switches to a speaking, half singing sound. The sound is mind blowing, pyschedelic and quite frankly hilarious in places. The rythm grows and Ben comes on to the drums, it’s a repetative throbbing organism now just carrying on in it’s own vibe, the beat comes in and as the sound ebbs and flows Damo stays gripping the microphone focused and absorbed in what he is creating.
The music turns cold and aloof but the vocal is warming in its freedom. The bassist steps away from the electronics and puts his instrument on alongside the second guitarist and they both add to the building noise. Brandon puts his guitar on and all of the Resurrection Men are now around Damo, he shows no sign of recognising this, he sings with his eyes shut. The music turns sleazy and silky, Damo’s contribution giving it an edge of lunacy and weirdness but they all slot into the right place and the edges disappear, it’s rounded, shaped and moving like a jazz freak out from the outer reaches of some alien glacier.
Damo and the music get louder, more forceful and even more unhinged. The band that is closest to this musical madness are of course The Fall, it’s not a coincidence that they have a track named after this music’s leader. But I have never clicked with The Fall but this is suddenly in my head and slotting into place, I can see and completely understand why Damo Suzuki is an icon of underground music and why people follow him, it’s in my brain now and it’s almost a revelation. The music makes it too, I don’t know how much rehearsal these people had together but it doesn’t matter, Damo fits into the music and the music fits into Dano, it’s circular and flowing. You can see that the band have eased into the groove, the next segment is bass led, funky and free with a chopping dub style guitar. The tracks segue into each other, they do seem to end and start but there is no pause for applause just a shift in the feel. The voice now weaves in and out of a hard drum beat and bass line, it’s never lost, always the main focus of the sound, which itself is based on the repetition and movement always forwards and always together.
They sideswipe me by going into almost Hawkwind psychedelic madness. Fast everything and swiping swooshes over it all. But every time the music switches, changes and spasms your focus moves back to Damo Suzuki, talking, singing, ranting and then as the music lowers to a drone and a humming bass, as the guitars and drums take a bite again Damo starts to croon, a slow seductive singing voice that rises with the music to a frenzy of noise and emotion, an outpouring of feelings and then stops, falls away as the drone rises and falls.
‘Damo Suzuki!’ shouts Brandon and the crowd cheers. Resurection men finish with another extended jam and the evening falls quiet. What a show, mindbending and glorious.
Damo Suzuki and the Resurrection Men
The Resurrection Men
Damo Suzuki’s website is www.damosuzuki.com.
All pictures by Martin Ward, all words by Adrian Bloxham.