Acid house synths, drum machines, krauty bass and reverb infected guitars, Tom Johnson went to see Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream.
The evolution of lad culture in the UK is something I hope is regularly argued over by experts in eons to come. Its initial association with Britpop and then multiple transformations through the era of ‘lads mags’, could never have guessed the tangents it has taken recently, especially where music is concerned. The Lucid Dream seem to be a very strange step into an even more unknown territory for the ‘lads’ and it’s hard to gauge whether it’s the right one or not.
The Birmingham stop of their recent mini-tour, at Hare and Hounds on Sunday February 10th, saw the band play to a healthy number of 30-40 year olds as well as a new generation of kids in the know. There was a Beatles tribute night taking place in the room next door, same venue, and it was hard to separate the clientele at the bar pre-show.
Before the band came on, the room stank of ecstasy nostalgia and while the four piece from Carlisle played, the flashbacks started. That’s not to say their set wasn’t interesting. Incorporating acid house synths, drum machines, krauty bass and reverb infected guitars, The Lucid Dream regurgitated a faster, less melodic, more tsunami of sound Spacemen 3 vibe. All the songs lasted nearly 15 minutes and really do take it out of you. They’re loud, constant and well structured, switching from loud to soft just when you think you’ve reached your limit of noise. Bassist Mike Denton has got some of the tightest kraut grooves audible at the moment and it is something seeing it live. How does he keep time with also expert drummer Luke Anderson with everything else going on?
Frontman Mark Emmerson did his best Ian Brown impression throughout the set and it worked over the roar of the instruments. Channelling the gnarlier of Pete Kember’s bars, both noise and wail combined is one fine trip.
After about an hour, the band mellowed things out for the beginning of one song, with Emmerson declaring ‘they were going to make it seem like a Saturday night’, i.e. beef up those Roland TB-303 basslines and have guitarist Wayne Jefferson move onto synth. After a italo-disco sounding section, which personally I thought was the best part of the whole show due to the ebbs and flows and synergy with 80’s soundtrack music, the song then reverted to the room-filling reverberation the band are well-known for.
Each song finale was met with a comedown applause from the ex-ravers and everyone seemed happy with what they had just witnessed/ endured. Coincidentally, Emmerson, Denton and Jefferson may be the first trio to have bought the first sneaker three-pack with all three wearing different Adidas trainers at the front of the stage.
By Tom Johnson