THE SNAKE CORPS + PARIS ALEXANDER + TANTRUM ZENTRUM – GREEN DOOR STORE, BRIGHTON 10.9.22
Unusually, we would like to start a review by thanking the Arts Council of England for partly funding this evening’s concert as it wouldn’t have happened without them. The grant obtained for tonight’s event meant that three music acts that got to play live this evening, giving them more coverage for their cause, the local promoter involved was able to get there name out there, plus the Brighton venue gets a much needed cash injection via the punters that attended, and those punters get a night out that they might not have necessarily had without all of this. Thus it is a win, win, win, win situation!
The three acts performing for us tonight are The Snake Corps, Paris Alexander and Tantrum Zentrum. They are appearing at the Green Door Store which can be found literally beneath Brighton mainline railway station. The local promoters co-ordinating tonight are Blue Door Music Productions who have had assistance from the band Tantrum Zentrum.
The Snake Corps are the headline act and they were originally formed in 1984 out of the ashes of Watford based Sad Lovers And Giants who first got it together from 1980 to 1983. Both bands were operating out of the Post Punk era and it’s fair to state that The Snake Corps have since become a cult band. They released their first album: ‘Flesh On Flesh’ in 1985 and were championed by the legendary DJ John Peel. They recorded their second album ‘Smother Earth’ in 1990. The next album ‘The 3rd Cup’ followed six years later in 1995, After a hiatus the band reformed in 2010 and eventually dropped ‘The Ocean Calls‘ EP in September 2016, which like most of their work can be located on their Bandcamp page.
The Snake Corps currently consists of Marc Lewis (vocals), Jim Blanchard (bass), Liam McGuinness (guitar) and Dave Vigay (drums) and their live performances are certainly a rarity with these lads, as they are currently only performing two gigs for the rest of 2022, with one being in Madrid, Spain on 24th September, and our concert tonight at the Green Door Store.
This evening, we arrived in plenty of time in order to purchase our drinks and to chat with friends prior to the opening act hitting the stage. First up then are British/Canadian post-punk band Tantrum Zentrum who are London and Weymouth based and who sing in English and occasionally in Serbian. They are inspired by both early 70s German rock and late 70s New York no-wave bands, and as a result of this, they deliver sonic dissonance and poppy hooks with great energy and style.
The band consists of partners Vaat Dafuq (aka Igor) (vocals, guitar) and Sabine de Rousseau (aka Robyn) (guitar, vocals, synth), along with Jay Garrett (bass, vocals, synth) and currently Nigella the drum machine, as they are currently drummerless. They have shared their story as how they came into being……
“Back in March 2018, Vaat and Sabine were working as crew/session musicians for the reformed 70s punk band Crisis. Somewhere on the motorway between Berlin and Leipzig, (while the aging punks were sleeping off their duty free and Ryanair sandwiches), Vaat and Sabine were listening to tracks on Sabine’s phone. When the album Pink Flowers by the German/US outfit, Horrid Red, came on, the idea for Tantrum Zentrum flashed into their road-weary brains. The two later locked themselves in their home studio and started work on their short but perfectly formed neo-nowave gems”.
The human trio take to the Green Door Store stage at 7:54pm for a 35 minute set that concludes ten songs later at 8:29pm. There are plastic flowers draped across the three stage speakers and around the drums. This is a nice touch and they remain in-situ until the event concludes at 10:13pm. As proceedings are running a little late, Tantrum Zentrum decide to drop ‘Der Liermann’ from their proposed setlist. Thus we don’t actually get to hear Igor sing in German this evening.
Igor is in control of vocals and Epiphone guitar. He is notably wearing purple, red, blue and green luminous rings on his non guitar playing hand. I wonder if he got the idea from Spizzenergi as Spizz wears them during his performances as well. Jay is taking care of things on his (not often seen) Bongo bass guitar, which incidentally is manufactured by Music Man, a division of Ernie Ball, and was first introduced to the world back in 2003. He is also on backing vocals, as is Robyn, along with her Schecter Black Hawk Electric Guitar and mini keyboard.
They kick off with the dark brewing ‘Intro In E’, which leads into ‘Next!’ which is a more bouncy post punk style number. I note that Igor is responsible for kicking Nigella’s drumming pre-sets into action via a little pad controller. He jokingly states that he is flanked by “Flora and Fauna” in reference to his bandmates.
‘October Frost’ comes next and this is a very post punk number that could have almost been released in 1982-4 by the Sisters of Mercy or someone very similar. Song four is ‘Don’t Be A Fascist’ which is dedicated as a message to the brand new Prime Minister. It has a swinging 60’s style beat that morphs into something the Gang Of Four would have produced. The vocals in this slightly slip into David Bowie ‘Little Wonder’ (1997) territory. ‘No Smooth Ride’ follows. This has a slight Killing Joke disco beat, with Robyn adding jangly Half Man Half Biscuit style guitar riffs on top.
We are at the halfway point and they give ‘Same Old Song’ an outing. We are back in Bowie territory again on the vocals, which sit atop jaunty post punk vibes. I feel this tune, more than any other of their set, would benefit with the adding of a real live drummer. Track seven, ‘I Am Lost’, sees the trio going all 80s disco, but with an underlying Arabic undercurrent with a constant booming beat, which Robyn added to by tinkling a few keys on the mini keyboard, and thus improving the sound.
‘High Belt Blue’ is another banging beat that suddenly gets funky in a ‘Turn To Red’ Killing Joke style that Youth would certainly approve of. Penultimate number, ‘Deamon Daemon’, is for me deeply rooted in Talking Heads territory. They conclude with ‘New Age Of Promise’, which is a fast one with a quirky Mark E Smith beat and delivery. This was a jolly decent set and I would definitely like to see them playing live again.
Tantrum Zentrum are:
Igor – vocals
Jay – bass
Robyn – lead guitar
Nigella – the drum machine
Tantrum Zentrum setlist:
‘Intro In E’
‘Don’t Be A Fascist’
‘No Smooth Ride’
‘Same Old Song’
‘I Am Lost’
‘High Belt Blue’
‘New Age Of Promise’
Find out more about this intriguing outfit by visiting tantrumzentrum.com
After a wait of a mere 15 minutes, it was now the turn of local singer/songwriter/music producer and long time Antipole collaborator Paris Alexander to grace the stage with his long term collaborator Simon Meek for a (sadly) short 21 minute performance from 8:44pm to 9:05pm.
This was my second encounter with Paris, having witnessed his debut live performance at The Prince Albert back on 15th December 2019 along with The Pink Diamond Revue and How To Live – Read the review HERE.
Paris Alexander has previously co-written, sung on and produced the trio of Antipole albums ‘Radial Glare’, ‘Northern Flux’ and ‘Getting Frequent Now’. Paris and Antipole have remixed many acts, including Clan of Xymox and She Past Away. He often collaborates with the artist Eirene and has also worked with the band Leg Puppy. Talking of which, ‘Mr’ Leg Puppy is in attendance this evening, having whizzed down from the metropolis in order to catch Paris’ performance.
Seems as though Paris’ tunes are around the three minute perfect pop tune as they run through six tracks in the twenty-one minute slot, beginning with the quiet introed ‘Devour’ from his latest ten song ‘Renaissance’ album, which dropped on 10th September last year. Paris is on vocals, Korg keys and laptop and Simon was on backing vocal duty as well as playing his Gibson guitar.
Tonight’s set is equally split between a trio of tunes from Paris’ last album and three as yet unreleased tunes, the first of which was up next in the form of ‘Live & Let Live’ which was very Sisters Of Mercy combined with Antipole banging beat and an Associates style vocal but deeper. ‘Lost In The City’ had an outing next which I thought had Bowie-esque vocals and ‘Mr’ Leg Puppy spotted that it had the Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music sound.
The unreleased ‘Rise And Shine’ most definitely had a strong September 1981 Jim Kerr vocal style and in fact I would even suggest that this could be a long lost tune from the excellent ‘Sons And Fascination’ and ‘Sister Feeling Calls’ double album package that I bought on the day of their release. I enjoyed ‘Rise And Shine’ very much. The penultimate number was the title tune from the ‘Renaissance’ album. This had another pounding beat, and I particularly liked when Paris added to the beat with the Korg keys, another 1981 Simple Minds sounding tune. This was all very encouraging.
The guys end with ‘Law & Disorder’ which has a faster beat than the others with an almost slow surf guitar atop. The lyrics “What do you want?” were repeated often with intensity and great feeling and at 9:05pm they were done. I’m sure that virtually everyone present had wished that the set had been longer, but the early curfew was approaching and there needed to be enough time for the headliners, The Snake Corps, to run through their set and the venue (and plastic flowers) to be cleared prior to the commencement of ‘It’s Still 1985’ club night.
Paris Alexander setlist:
‘Devour’ (from 2021 ‘Renaissance’ album)
‘Live & Let Live’ (unreleased)
‘Lost In The City’ (from 2021 ‘Renaissance’ album)
‘Rise And Shine’ (unreleased)
‘Renaissance’ (from 2021 ‘Renaissance’ album)
‘Law & Disorder’ (unreleased)
Find out more about Paris by checking out his ‘linktree’ HERE.
It was now time for The Snake Corps to run through their dozen selected tunes that were born between 1985 and 2016. The quartet hit the stage at 9:17pm, a mere 12 minutes after Paris Alexander vacated it, which was a great turnaround time for their 56 minute performance.
Tonight is my first encounter with the outfit and the only “corps” that I was into back in the day at the same time wasn’t The Snake Corps, but another quartet going by the name of Hard Corps (stylized as hard CORPS). They were (and still remain) one of my all-time favourite acts, imagine Kraftwerk with a sassy French female singer and you’re there. They appeared on Channel 4’s ‘The Tube’ and went out on tour with Depeche Mode and The Cure. But tonight is about the ‘snake’ variety.
OK I admit it, I have absolutely no recollection of The Snake Corps whatsoever, but when delving into their history, I discover that they were vastly more appreciated on the continent rather than here, despite hailing from these shores. In fact this still could be the case for tonight’s normal looking mature chaps, who would simply blend into a crowd. Frontman Marc Lewis is taking care of vocals, Liam McGuinness is sporting a left-handed Fender guitar, Jim Blanchard is on Sterling bass (made by Music Man) and backing vocals, and David Vigay is on the drums.
They begin, to a nearly full room, with the first of two cuts tonight from 1990’s ‘Smother Earth’ album, in the form of ‘Seagull’s Eye’, which is again very Jim Kerr (of Simple Minds) on the vocal front Being the headliners, it’s no surprise that this went down with the mixed age crowd. They continue with their most recent composition this evening, ‘Another Place’, which can be located on their 2016 ‘The Ocean Calls’ EP. It seems that time has indeed stood still as it features a decent powerful vocal delivery with a more rocky style Simple Minds. The second of the ‘Smother Earth’ album tracks arrives in ‘Colder Than The Kiss’, which reaffirms their rocky Simple Minds sound, but this time with added Echo & The Bunnymen/early U2 sound on the guitar. I’m certain that ‘Bunnymen’ and U2 fans would absolutely love them, and for me this was their best so far.
The first of a trio of tracks from their debut 1985 ‘Flesh On Flesh’ album, is played next, that being the catchy and U2 sounding ‘Animals All’. ‘In Flux’ with some decent bass licks was the first of two back-to-back tunes which turned up on their ‘More Than The Ocean’ compilation album from 1990, the second being ‘Strangers’, which saw Marc don his Ibanez guitar for the first of two occasions. ‘Strangers’ could easily be a B-side tune by U2, The Alarm or even Simple Minds at a push.
The Ibanez get discarded for a handful of tunes and they are away with my new fave Snake Corps tune, ‘Science Kills’, with its catchy powerfully delivered repeated chorus that begins “I’ll get my gun, and just for fun we’ll walk away into the sun; Into the sun; The moon of moons, the sun of suns….”. Bracing stuff indeed!
Although their live work is a rarity, the quartet have thus far shown us punters that they are a tight unit who understand each other on stage very well. ‘Victory Parade’ from their debut platter, begins with a mock bell sound intro that then runs into Echo & The Bunnymen territory. I have to flag that Marc’s vocals took it up another notch into Billy Idol high notes territory. I was waiting for him to sing ‘Rebel Yell’. This was sung with true feeling as it is an anti war song in that the subject matter is about burying people!
Their mid-1980’s Sad Lovers And Giants tune ‘Imagination’, which they brought across with them, got to show another side of the band as it sounded akin to The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’. Punters hands were clapping as Marc delivered the powerful vocals for this and the following number, ‘Testament’ (from 1990 ‘Smother Earth’ album).
The Ibanez guitar is called back in action for the instrumental ‘“…This Is Seagull”’, which saw Liam show off his prowess on the other guitar. Their encore track was ‘Some Other Time’ from their ‘3rd Cup’ album from 1995. This saw Marc in Billy Idol territory again, in fact it could have even been considered an old Gen X tune. At 10:13pm, they were done and the punters left with smiles on their faces.
The Snake Corps are:
Marc Lewis – vocals
Liam McGuinness – guitar
Jim Blanchard – bass
David Vigay – drums
The Snake Corps setlist:
‘Seagull’s Eye’ (from 1990 ‘Smother Earth’ album)
‘Another Place’ (from 2016 ‘The Ocean Calls’ EP)
‘Colder Than The Kiss’ (from 1990 ‘Smother Earth’ album)
‘Animals All’ (from 1985 ‘Flesh On Flesh’ album)
‘In Flux’ (from 1990 ‘More Than The Ocean’ compilation album)
‘Strangers’ (from 1990 ‘More Than The Ocean’ compilation album)
‘Science Kills’ (from 1985 ‘Flesh On Flesh’ album)
‘Victory Parade’ (from 1985 ‘Flesh On Flesh’ album)
‘Imagination’ (from Sad Lovers And Giants 1986 ‘Total Sound’ album)
‘Testament’ (from 1990 ‘Smother Earth’ album)
‘“…This Is Seagull”’ (from 1995 ‘Spice – 1984-1993 The Very Best Of…’ compilation album)
‘Some Other Time’ (from 1995 ‘3rd Cup’ album)
You can find out more about The Snake Corps by visiting their ‘linktree’ HERE.
Check out the Blue Door Music Productions ‘linktree’ HERE.
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