Live Music

Venus Bogardus at the Croft, Bristol, 2012

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Posted on 14th June 2012

Venus Bogardus

The Croft, Bristol

June 8, 2012

Venus Bogardus made a welcome visit from their New Mexico home for the last three years, dropping in for an Artscare gig at The Croft, and it was both fascinating and thrilling on a visceral level.

VB was formed in Bath in 2005 by partners James Reich and Hannah Levbarg, he a Bathonian, she an Austin Texan (as opposed to, say, a Dallas Texan or a Lubbock Texan). A decidedly cerebral and literary band (they did own the wonderful if short-lived Secession Books in Bath), their live shows opt entirely for the visceral over the cerebral.

For this return, they played with their old drummer, Obaro Evuarherhe, now of Glis Glis. It was a reunion of one's dreams; something that rarely happens in real life (see Stone Roses).

James and Hannah sing in unison a lot, X-style; it seemed like more than before, and it works a treat. Doubled up like this, you can hear the vocals (if not the words) in a steamy little room with a small PA over the instruments. It was clear that James' Sonic Youth-influenced guitar and Hannah's bass playing had reached a higher level; gigging in the US must be good for them. Hannah, in particular, has developed as a bassist, locking in with James' rhythmic riffing and Obaro's kick drum for true rock propulsion. They had an easy rapport, the music coming across as natural rather than rehearsed, and Obaro was terrific, better, I think, than in the olde days. Maybe absence makes the heart grow fonder or bodies move more deftly, but there was definite magic at play on this night.

They played old songs and new songs and, sure, there were mistakes, but who cares? The feeling was there. They ended with Dance-Collision[Chaz], their new single, a Hannah song, which is a different direction for them. It's a horizontal, loping groove and it is hypnotic, cynically funny and melodic all at the same time.

If you want to hear their songs, buy the albums (http://www.venusbogardus.com/). There you can hear the lyrics and the singing, a whole different experience from the Croft; if you weren't at The Croft, forget it, you missed an exultant night.

Charley Dunlap

photo courtesy Andy Ounsted

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