A night of eccentricity and avant-garde flair here brings the freaks out to party both on and off stage Dressed for the occasion in sporting ‘fine tailoring’ first up we have a return from English gents Talanas. It’s been a while since I have seen them in action or indeed heard any new material. I do remember being stung by their Waspkeeper album back in 2011 and believe the follow up is going down a crowd-funding route. They immediately make a pretty explosive noise that fits in well with the style of the evening, not being a million miles from Code at times with a Victoriana eldritch kind of sound. The stage has some red lanterns and the band play in red but for some reason both supports are afflicted by a glaring backlight which makes it even difficult to see them from certain angles without being blinded, let alone take decent shots. Musically things are tight and full of motion. There is blackness and forward thinking progressiveness with singer Hal hitting things up with both gravid growls and clean harmonics. Apparently he is in celebratory mood too taking his first drink in over two months and mischievously informs us that the keyboard player is about to get enveloped in dry ice. There is a memory sparked by ‘The Ecstasy of Betrayal’ and I notice the bass player is wringing out notes that probably shouldn’t exist, conventionality was always going to be out the window tonight. I am pretty sure they also played Antiphon from the album too and there’s a notable Akercocke feel about it with plenty of heaving and trembling riffs and some excellent musicianship all round. Handing out biscuits to the audience was a somewhat surreal but welcome move but I suddenly wondered if the bourbons were spiked with barbiturates. Oh well, find out soon.

We have been lucky catching Code on numerous occasions over the years but word is Aort is relocating to New Zealand shortly so they may become few and far between. The new EP ‘Under The Subgleam’ had surprised as it showed the band going back to a raw blackened intensity rather than the sometimes weirder style that has crept increasingly into their music. Tonight they seemed to revel in that savagery and under cold blue light really upped the ante and went for things with a flailing intensity that came close to flooring us. The hairy wookie duo of Wacian and Syhr at the front of the stage stomped around like two giant grizzly bears and they got everyone else head-banging away as they charged into ‘The Rattle Of Black Teeth’ loosening filling in the process. Slower parts did loom up during the set giving a bit of a creepy vibe akin to sitting down and reading a classic English ghost story.  I was lucky enough to catch the band in previous incarnation with Khost fronting them but tonight songs like The Cotton Optic and finale Brass Dogs were totally owned by the frontman, the latter having us deliriously caught in its swaying web. I think this was about one of the best times I have seen the band and even if there is a bit of downtime coming up in the future they certainly went out with a bang tonight.

More madcap behaviour is going to be in store as bonkers Bergan Bjørnar leads us all off on a very strange, dystopian and merry dance with Vulture Industries. I have loved this band since they 1st crawled out the woodwork and with latest album Stranger Times being played plenty since it dropped this year I was all for catching some of the newer songs as well as some old stuff here tonight. Last time the group were loosed on the larger stage upstairs but they were going to utilise every inch they had at their hands tonight. Striding on in braces looking like he could have escaped from Slade the frontman is ever flamboyant and rakish leading the charge and serenading on the opening Tale Of Woe.’ They have nice colourful lights to jig about under which is much better and brings more warmth to the venue with it. Suitably infectious musically the place certainly gets a bit more of a party atmosphere about it from the off. Guitarist and bass player trade licks like zealous rock stars, there’s paisley shirts and bare feet on stage too making it seem like some band members had escaped from a hippy festival. Another new song ‘Strangers’ has that crazed wedding party gone a bit topsy-turvy feel to it, this would make sense to anyone who has heard it and it invokes some nutty dancing and a spot of tambourine bashing to go with it. As for the fantastically rafter hitting vocal croons they went down very well too. Talking of reaching the roof the singer was never going to stay in one spot and puts an amp on its edge and precariously straddles it standing over us looking like he could tumble off the stage. Although it wouldn’t be the first time on this tour somehow he manages not to and doesn’t miss a note either.

Much as I love the new album I still think creative peak was hit with its predecessor and pairing up the title track ‘The Tower’ along with ‘The Hound’ was a marriage made in heaven as far as I was concerned. I was instantly transported off and tripped out visualising fantastic videos that go with songs and wondering if that earlier biscuit had finally kicked in. Sinuously, twisting and turning with a sleazy edge the latter number drives ever forward and rises to giddy heights and progressive overload.  The singer is also well and truly off his leash too wondering about the audience and barking parts out into unsuspecting faces. There’s some crawling around the floor and perching like a bird of prey on speaker stacks to come as well as no shortage of great songs. The joint may not have been totally packed but by final number the old and classic ‘Blood Don’t Flow Streamlined’ Bjørnar has everyone marching around the dance floor in a giant conga line after him. It culminates a dizzying display which leaves grinning most of the way home. A great and memorable night all round.

(Pete Woods Review & Photos)