KEG + LAST LIVING CANNIBAL – THE PIPER, ST LEONARDS 7.5.22
Brighton promoters Acid Box specialise in the more raucous and outré end of the musical spectrum, and have a mission to bring a little taster of the city’s scene further along the East Sussex coast. Tonight we’re at The Piper in St Leonards, which was recently reconfigured to provide an upstairs music room with excellent sightlines. The location is fine by me as it cuts down on the train-cancellation roulette of a longer journey home, but it seems to be an ongoing challenge to entice many local music fans to part with their cash and ascend those stairs. It’s not for want of quality though, and tonight’s bill is a very appealing prospect indeed.
First on stage is Last Living Cannibal (think about it), the solo project of Hastings musician Allister Kellaway. He sports a vintage guitar that looks like a Teisco, the sort of instrument you might have purchased from your mum’s home shopping catalogue in pre-internet days. It’s hard to say for sure, as the bottom of the headstock seems to have been sawn off. The one-man-band setup is completed by an array of effects pedals and a Korg mixer/recorder providing the drums, bass, and synth parts. Personally, I’d rather have a full band on stage, but I can absolutely see the practical benefits of a more portable version that doesn’t get drunk, argue, or need paying.
Opener ‘The Overground’ has a grungy feel and is a bit downbeat and introspective, although it perks up for a livelier instrumental section. The setup seems to be nicely under control, and working well. ‘Crystal Palace’ is in a similarly languid vein, brightened up by an insistent synth line, before we are blasted with the soaringly magnificent ‘May’. This psych epic motors along on a Krautrock beat with a blissfully expansive thrashed guitar drone, inhabiting a sublime space somewhere between space rock and shoegaze. It’s absolutely fantastic, and our man can consider at least one copy of his CD sold.
We’re back to the slower, grungy feel for ‘Samson’, although there’s a blistering guitar solo that really lights up the number. ‘The Rules’ moves along well, leading into a cool playout. The final song is apparently called ‘After The Goldrush’, though that could be a wind up. it doesn’t seem to be related to the Neil Young classic.
It’s a tricky business performing solo, and Last Living Cannibal provides a varied and interesting set that has been an enjoyable start to the evening. Personally, I think he’d be better off concentrating on the space rock, but I guess you go where the muse takes you. I strongly recommend you check out ‘May’ online.
Last Living Cannibal setlist:
‘The Overground’, ‘Crystal Palace’, ‘May’, ‘Samson’, ‘The Rules’, ‘After The Goldrush’
The main act tonight is Brighton-based 7-piece KEG. We caught their excellent set at the Mutations Festival last November, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing them again. They play a varied and angular sort of art rock, with frequent changes of rhythm and tempo. Twin guitars and synth offer plenty of scope for expansive musical expression, and the addition of trombone gives a contrasting jazzy element. The band has a new single ‘Kids’ streaming now in advance of their second EP ‘Girders’, which is due for release on Alcopop Records in September.
They open with the brisk ‘Presidential Walk’, from last year’s ‘Assembly’ EP. Its urgent new-wave vibe is reminiscent of XTC, with dancing flurries of interweaving guitar lines. On stage it’s pretty crowded, with a a potential collision risk between the engagingly animated vocalist Albert and Charlie’s fast-moving trombone slide. The vocal has a tone of mild surprise reminiscent of David Byrne from Talking Heads, and there’s a kind of gang quirkiness that reminds me of Devo. House left is Will, getting busy on a pair of Korg synths. He’s looking particularly cool with corkscrew hair and a nascent Van Dyke beard. Squeezed in behind him is the more bushily-bearded guitarist Frank. Fellow six-string-dinger Jules has dispensed with shoes and socks for better operation of his effects pedals. He shares a mic with bassist Joel, and drummer Johnny completes the lineup, house right with his kit side-on to the audience.
I feel the need for a bit of a dance to the familiar and urgent groove of ‘Heyshaw’, another single which also features on the first EP. There’s a naggingly catchy chanted refrain which lists the travels of two of the protagonists. “Singapore…Malaysia…Kuwait….Berlin.” Albert, Will and Joel are originally from Yorkshire, and the gist seems to be that the East Riding will remain with you wherever you find yourself. I notice that most of my fellow patrons are dancing too. The room is far from full, but there are enough people here to generate a bit of atmosphere, and everyone seems to be well into the music.
‘5/4’ is a newer number that will be on the forthcoming EP, and there’s a lot going on. “I had a heart attack in 5/4” is the lyrical motif. If notice your own heartbeat adopting any sort of jazz rhythm, seek medical attention. The as-yet-unreleased ‘Fishing’ is ushered in with urgent snare rolls, and punctuated with plenty of stops and stabs. “I missed my wife’s wedding,” the lyric confides, with a bizarrely intriguing logic.
“Shall we play a rubbish song, or an okay song?” Will enquires of the crowd, who mischievously opt for the former. “Extra bad!” shouts some wag. “This one’s got extra bad sauce on it as well,” quips frontman Albert, launching the raucous ‘Ferryman’. There are clanging guitars, squealing synths, a rather tasty descending riff, a section of red-faced manic screaming, and an angular instrumental digression. “A little bit like Bruce Springsteen?” he asks, jokingly, at the end. Er, no.
Having paused to gape in awe at the preceding sonic assault, we recommence enthusiastic dancing for the current single ‘Kids’. It’s bouncy and fun, an absolute cracker. “I hate my children’” wails Albert, ironically describing the horror of their penchant for health food and repeats of TV comedian Michael McIntyre. “No, I don’t find it funny Dan. Go and smoke some weed on your own!”
‘Girders’ is the title track of the coming EP, but the brisk groove of ‘Porpoise’ is apparently only to be performed live, with no intention to ever record it. It’s rather impressive, with building stabs and a jazzy trombone solo, so a good reason to get out and catch this band live.
Will does a mime of eating something from a packet. We’re told what it is, but it seems there’s only one person in the audience who knows what they’re on about, and it’s not me. ‘Sing Again’ is yet another new track, and this one will feature on the ‘Girders’ EP. It’s relatively steady paced, with accentuating stabs and trombone glissando, and a particularly effective backing vocal.
Will launches another slightly surreal chat with the audience about what kind of Advent calendar we all had last Christmas. Charlie has swapped his trombone for a conch shell, so it could go a bit ‘Lord Of The Flies’ from here. We actually get the magnificent ‘Kilham’ from the first EP, an epic post-punk suite of varied musical sections. There’s a rather nice stuttering push, which makes me think of XTC’s ‘Roads Girdle The Globe’ for some reason, though this piece is out on its own and doesn’t really sound like anything else. The conclusion to a thoroughly entertaining set is the punchy ‘Breaking Rocks’, which is topped off with an impressive wig-out of wailing synth.
This has been a superb gig. The only thing that would really improve it would be a few more paying customers. Those of us who were here got an absolute treat.
You can catch KEG at The Great Escape Festival. They’ll be playing at Jubilee Square at 6:15pm on Thursday (12th May) and on the Beach Stage at 9:15pm on Friday 13th.
The ‘Girders’ EP is available to pre-order HERE.
Albert Haddenham – vocals
Will Wiffen – keyboards, vocals, percussion
Jules Gibbons- guitar, vocals
Frank Lindsay – guitar
Joel Whitaker- bass, vocals
Charlie Keen – trombone, conch shell
Johnny Pyke- drums
‘Presidential Walk’, ‘Heyshaw’, ‘5/4’, ‘Fishing’, ‘Ferryman’, ‘Kids’, ‘Girders’, ‘Porpoise’, ’Sing Again’, ‘Kilham’, ’Breaking Rocks’