Live Music

Blood Choir/The Goan Dogs at The Porter

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Posted on 28th July 2012

Blood Choir / Goan Dogs

Porter Cellar Bar, Bath

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This was a jam packed bill with Harriet Pimm and Kill It Kid's Chris Turpin opening for Blood Choir and The Goan Dogs. Unfortunately, it was also the hottest summer day of the year, making it much more enticing to hang out outside the pub than inside. It didn't deter Kill It Kid fans from packing the cellar club for Chris Turpin's brief solo set; ah, the power of a major label band (KIK just signed to Warner Bros). Sadly, I missed all but the very end of Chris' set and am unable to report on it, other than to say it sounded bluesy as one would expect, plus there was a melodic country-ish song. The fans seemed happy.

The thing with the weather is that the club completely emptied between bands, everyone getting outside into the lovely twilight, leaving each band to start off to a near empty house with punters gradually straggling in. Thus it was for The Goan Dogs.

The Dogs are a terrific band with real band identity. The central axis is singer-songwriter Luke St Leger and drummer Daniel Lane, clearly fans of Calexico. Lane is a most unusual drummer who uses the kit as a full-scope worldly beatbox, bypassing the usual techniques — a style pioneered by Calexico's John Convertino. Almost entirely due to Lane, the band has a constant, coursing, unstoppable rhythmic propulsion.

Luke departs from the Calexico model with a choirboy singing style à la Morrissey-Thom Yorke-Jeff Buckley and is also a skilful guitarist. The band includes a trumpet – another echo of Calexico – along with bass and spaghetti-surf guitar. An very big factor is that they all sing and the harmonies from up to 5 voices are lush, varied and precise. This is a band making their first appearance in Bath with an awful lot of weapons to back up their complex and interesting songs; we do hope they return.

Blood Choir, with new bassist and drummer and a new sound, came on a bit off schedule at 11:30, once again with the audience outside enjoying the warm night. And once again, the audience filtered in, drawn by the new heavy sound of the Choir. “Heavy” is not entirely accurate; they play a kind of noise-pop ambient metal. Guitarist Joe Mountain, always an exemplar of taste, continues as such as the generator of feedback and endless digital delays with a control over the tones and harmonics that was impressive. From Deep Waters, off their new album, was gorgeous and Joe's sustaining harmonic chords were a thing of beauty.

The heaviest thing about the new Blood Choir is Sam Selby's drumming, much in the colossal style of arena bands, giving the Choir a huge gravitas; with Rod Brakes' pulsing bass, the foundation is set for Joe's ethereal guitar and Rob Maddicot's frankly beautiful singing. Rob has developed into a truly exceptional singer over the many years and many bands in Bath. His voice, tenor to falsetto, is that of a ballad singer, more fluid and emotive than anyone I can think of still alive [uh, Smokey Robinson is still alive – editor].

Blood Choir is a unique amalgam of elements: arena rock, Norwegian style ambience, noise-pop, metal riffage, emotive singer-songwriter, and just plain great singing.

This was really an extraordinary night of riches, even with missing the first two performers. Too bad about the weather; where's the cold and rain when you need it?

Charley Dunlap

Blood Choir's new album, No Window to the Old World is available everywhere; iTunes, Amazon, etc.

The Goan Dogs' new ep, 20 Minutes To The Border, is released Sunday July 29 at the Cube.

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