THE PINK DIAMOND REVIEW + MELT PLASTIC GROUP + VOODOO RAYS – THE CON CLUB, LEWES 16.9.22
Tonight was my first venture out to The Con Club in Lewes for over six months. It’s a really great venue with a warm, relaxed atmosphere and is a mainly volunteer-run, not-for-profit social club and independent music venue that is open every day to its members and non-members. The ‘con’ refers to ‘constitutional’ and not ‘Conservative’ just in case you and Maria Caulfield were wondering. It has a crystal clear sound system in place and the performance room is the ideal shape to reflect this, with no structural pillars in the way to mess things up. The lighting (when used!) is not too bad either.
These days, folks really now need to turn off their TV’s and get out to support grassroots music acts and local venues. We at Brighton & Hove News have been actively promoting the local scene for a number of years now and the number of unknown acts that we have seen that have gone onto bigger and better things is quite astounding – Don’t miss out on the next big thing, go and discover them for yourselves! In fact the Music Venue’s Trust published the following only two days ago:
Local promoters Black Rabbit Productions and Blue Door Productions have together put on this evening’s ‘Psych-Out Part.1’ event. On the bill are The Pink Diamond Revue, Melt Plastic Group and Voodoo Rays. We will discuss Melt Plastic Group and Voodoo Rays shortly, but we will start with tonight’s headliners are the once seen never forgotten The Pink Diamond Revue.
Back in the heydays of the British music press, the likes of the NME (New Musical Express) (1952-2018), Melody Maker (1926-2000), and Sounds (1970-1991) would often hold polls about various music related themes. If they were still at it today and were asking for “the most criminally underrated bands”, then I would obligingly fill it in for them. At the top (or at least second to top) of my list would go the four words of “The Pink Diamond Revue”. It’s beyond me how this unique outfit is under the radar! Although having said that, I was informed that this evening there was an influential music bod in the house – let’s hope he shares my enthusiasm and does something to rectify this.
I’ve said this before and I will state it again, but The Pink Diamond Revue who formed back in 2015 are unique and once seen never forgotten. Eccentric? Positively! Captivating? Affirmative! Enjoyable? Definitely!
The way we see it is an electro-amalgam of 1987-89 ‘Music For The Masses’ era Depeche Mode; the electro-psych vibe of TVAM; ‘Peter Gunn’ flavour Art Of Noise; a snippet of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and lashings and lashings of Sheep On Drugs imagery and sounds that the likes of Marc Almond would adore. The way The Pink Diamond Review see it “A world where ‘60s film soundtracks meet sampladelic acid house in a baggy-punk rathole somewhere in Interzone”.
The way they see it …“Live band fronted by Acid Dol, a model from another dimension”. The way we see it is two guys, namely chisel-edged featured ‘Thin White Duke’, London based guitarist and vocalist going by the name of Tim Lane accompanied by Reading based drummer Rob Courtman Stock and fronted by the top half of a female mannequin doll, that they may or may not be obsessed with! See what we mean HERE.
Tonight’s set ran for 43 minutes and commenced from 9:55pm and sadly concluded at 10:38pm. Behind the band, they had their own self-made films for each track which were projected right across the rear wall, which looked fabulous and was emphasised by the band not having any other lighting whatsoever. Thus our photographer Sara decided to take some shots with the flashgun on. The results with and without are astounding.
As ever, mystery man, metronomic drummer and controller of the Ludwig Standard Gold drum kit and drum pads, plus all things magic onstage, Rob Courtman Stock blended into the background with the films, thus punters’ eyes are very much drawn to svelte-like Bowie-esque frontman Tim Lane who is sporting his Watkins Circuit 4 vintage electric guitar and host of foot-pedals, but let’s not forget his half-partner Acid Dol (stylized as ‘ACiD DoL’). There are no live vocals on any of their songs and thus there was no need for a distracting microphone stand. Thank you’s are therefore conveyed by Tim standing at the edge of the stage with arms held aloft and fingers in the reversed victory V style as in hippies peace maaan!
I have seen this band on a number of other occasions, almost all of which were support slots, unlike this evening. So we were given a longer set than the norm, but it’s still not long enough for me. But maybe, just maybe, this is part of their clever ploy, to always leave the punter wanting more and thus getting them to return time and time again. An example this evening being no inclusion of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’. Early days New Order and Jesus And Mary Chain spring to mind here.
If you saw the band members in the street, you would quite possibly not guess that they are in the same outfit, it’s like chalk and cheese and yet it works beautifully. Duane Eddy style guitarist Time Lane, out front and absorbing the essence of mid 70’s David Bowie meets Martin Fry (ABC) with his distinctive guyliner and walking tattoo parlour verses the plain man in black at the rear. But let’s not forget ACiD DoL who (with the assistance of her master) dons a number of differing shades and hats throughout the performance. There was no personal dresser in the form of Maud Kipper for her this evening. That was reserved for her appearance at ‘The Jordan Mooney Official Charity Memorial Concert’ as was go-go dancer Helene de Joie.
Tonight’s ten song set was terrific. From the off with ‘A New Kind Of Life’, ‘Lux’ and ‘Nuclear’. I was so in the zone that I stood in front of one of the speaker stacks and continually placed my hand onto it, thus feeling the air and vibrations flow through my body. I was seeing and feeling their compositions and I was loving it so much, with the pounding beats flowing through my frame. The punters loved what they heard and an encore was called for and thus ‘Miss Lonely Hearts’ was delivered. Rob meant business for this as he put his headphones on. Tim was in a generous mood, by letting a young lady called Alisha have a go strumming on his guitar. The echoey distortion produced was great. This was yet another successful ‘TPDR’ concert!
The Pink Diamond Revue tonight were:
Tim Lane (the fuzz guitar)
Rob Courtman Stock (drums/the secret stuff)
ACiD DoL (fashion)
Alisha (assistance on the fuzz guitar)
The Pink Diamond Revue setlist:
‘A New Kind Of Life’
‘The Fuzz Guitar’
‘Nothing Can Go Wrong’
‘At The Discotheque’
‘Go Go Girl’
‘Miss Lonely Hearts’
More info on The Pink Diamond Review can be found HERE.
First up this evening were Voodoo Rays who are a fiercely independent four-piece alt/psych/post punk/pop/rock band from East London. Some of their ranks have now settled in Brighton. Note the spelling of their names is “Rays” as opposed to “Ray’s”. If you like pizzas, then add in the apostrophe!
When doing some background work I noted that strangely they themselves do not appear on the front cover artwork of any of their 20 releases thus far, instead preferring to share various forms and levels of art instead.
Tonight, the band were Frank Ray on vocals and Gibson guitar, Angelo Campagna on Gibson guitar and unusual style mini-keys, Andy Symes on Fender Jazz bass, and Graham Hadley on drums and Roland drum pads. These mature gents performed a seven song set lasting 35 minutes and running from 8:01pm to 8:36pm.
They are a tactile outfit that throughout their set were able to morph from post-punk to psych rock and back again. A trio of tracks were culled from their latest long player release ‘Empire (Third State)’, one was from last year and another from the year before that. The remaining two tunes were much older, 2010, to be precise, and with these it was just like listening to a completely different band.
The upshot of all this, is thankfully, I enjoyed their new material more than the older compositions, with their next forthcoming single ‘Chantal’ being the pick of the bunch. Surprisingly this was delivered as their second tune as opposed to near the end of the set, but its buzzsaw guitar sound was rather decent indeed.
Vocalist Frank opted out of wearing any eyewear, whereas his bandmates had gone down the Toy Dolls sunglasses route, which set my brain to 1978 post-punk days. Musically, to start with, I had noted elements of Television and Wire mixed with the edgier side of the Velvet Underground. Although last year’s ‘Cinderella’ from the ‘Breather’ EP was a quieter one and heading off into prog territory. Penultimate tune ‘Beautiful Losers’ put them back on the post punk track. ’The List’ was the last number and was a longer psych rock tune which made good use of Roland drum pads.
We are all different and I’m pretty sure my colleague Mark Kelly would lap up their psych numbers, whereas I personally enjoyed their post-punk tracks. They were a great opening act and I was rather bemused at the fact that quite possibly our paths had not previously crossed. I really hope that they do again really soon!
Voodoo Rays are:
Frank Ray – vocals/guitar
Andy Symes – bass
Angelo Campagna – guitar and keyboards
Graham Hadley – drums
Voodoo Rays setlist:
‘Nowish’ (from 2022 ‘Empire (Third State)’ album)
‘Chantal’ (from 2022 ‘Empire (Third State)’ album)
‘Baby Gasoline’/’Descention’ (from 2020 ‘Domestic’ album/ from 2010 ‘Descension’ album)
‘A House With No Windows’ (from 2022 ‘Empire (Third State)’ album)
‘Cinderella’ (from 2021 ‘Breather’ EP)
‘Beautiful Losers’ (from 2010 ‘Descension’ album)
‘The List’ (from 2010 ‘Descension’ album)
Next up this evening are the local Melt Plastic Group who have lost Jessica Lazzeri on bass, but have now gained Adam (on Fender bass) instead. This evening quite possibly may be his debut with the outfit. Completing their ranks are Willy on vocals, flute and Epiphone guitar, and Gazik on drums.
We have encountered this trio two times before. When they played The Hope & Ruin on 15th February 2020 we reported that…”They produce some more atmospheric and trans-dimensional psych music which makes some incredible soundscapes from desolate deserts, damp caves and swirling seas. The music is very spacy throughout with these longer songs being deep, warbling and wailing as they flow through the motions of their set”.
Our other encounter was at this year’s Lewes Psych Festival on 29th January, where we reported…“Willy Robinson with Jessica Lazziri on bass and drummer GaX form the Melt Plastic Group, play a Texan 70’s inspired guitar riff ridden set. The outfit take their inspiration from the 1970’s ‘The Elevators’ with a harmonica to boot and mesmerising vocals. This band certainly got the crowds dancing down the front”.
Indeed tonight at The Con Club, the Melt Plastic Group got some folk dancing and making shapes for half an hour from 9:02pm to 9:32pm. It was a slow start to the set with the opening number evolving out of what seemed to be a jam session. It reminded me of Joy Division’s ‘I Remember Nothing’ meets Neu! and very early Ralf and Florian (Kraftwerk), but not as good.
After their first number, Willy proclaimed them as (I believe) “The Yoghurt Smurfs aka the Melt Plastic Group”. No comment. The next number pulled Adam more into action with his decent basslines. In between each number, Willy spoke on the mic and it was set in echo mode, in order I guess to give it that trippy vibe. More krautrock tinged tunes followed and further Neu! vibes were had, as well as Hawkwind, and German outfit Can. By mid-set I had totally lost any interest in them. I was wasting half an hour of my life that I would never get back. I do not need to see this band again. However, in fairness, a large majority present did actually enjoy the half hour set.
Melt Plastic Group are:
Willy A Robinson (lead vocals/guitar/flute)
Gazik Stan (drums)
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