Ozymandias couldn’t be more chuffed than to turn over a corner of The Boot Room to this guest review of The Magic Band gig at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms (04.11.15), penned by the mighty Citrus Penguin himself. Take it away, CP…
So I woke up Monday morning, 2nd of November, I checked my phone for emails and the first thing that popped up at the top of my inbox was one from The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham saying “See The Magic Band in Nottingham”… surely they can’t mean THE Magic Band? They weren’t lying, I couldnt believe it. After missing them a couple of years ago because I was too young, I knew this was my last chance to catch even a glimpse into the live spirit of Captain Beefheart. Turns out the gig is in 2 days time. I ran to the bus stop and hurried into the town centre, going round every record shop asking if they sell tickets. After purchasing them from The Music Exchange, I let go a massive sigh of relief.
Wednesday 4th of November, I arrive at The Rescue Rooms early with a big wad of money I drew out, eager for merchandise (okay it was only £40 but hey, that’s a lot for someone from Arnold). The main hall only had about 10 people there waiting patiently for Drumbo and his new recruits to play. I go up to the merchandise stall and purchase a tour shirt and a live CD, the guy behind the stall turns to me and says: “Welcome to the first night of the tour, you’re the first person to own this shirt” which was a nice touch along with the glowing hawk eyes from people aged from 40-70 staring down at my young presence as if I am not worthy because of my age… we’ll see about that. So I wait at the barrier eagerly anticipating the band’s arrival arrive at half 8. I turn round and see a poster on the wall that read “The Magic Band will perform 2 sets tonight, there will be no support” I knew before they even came on this was going to be gig to remember. As I’m writing this review I feel slightly embarrassed by the fact that although I knew most of the songs played, the names slip my mind, so I apologise in advance. The sheer excitement prevented me from remembering words, thats my excuse. May I also mention that Rockette Morton was not present as he is very ill at the moment… we wish him good health.
Half 8 arrives, the new Magic Band walk onstage. Line up includes an incredible new drummer, two guitar players, one playing standard 6 string slide, the other playing an 8 string guitar. Instead of a bassist they had a keyboard player using a MIDI keyboard to recreate bass sounds and generate weird loops. As Drumbo enters the stage, the room suddenly seems a great deal fuller. His presence is respected by everyone, half the front row were bowing to him. “WE ARE THE MAGIC BAND, AND WE PLAY THE MUSIC OF CAPTAIN BEEFHEART!” screamed Drumbo as he punched his fist in the air, the whole band coming in all at the same time. My goosebumps were trying to jump out my skin with joy. As they pace viciously and powerfully through the first track, they soon jump into Beefheart’s breakthrough single “Diddy Wah Diddy”, Drumbo abusing the harmonica with love all the way through, pure blues joy. Occasionally he picked up his oboe (which he can actually play, very well), adding a nice touch and as soon you saw it, you instantly wanted Captain Beefheart to be there holding it to his face wearing his infamous trout mask.
Pacing through Beefheart classics such as “Nowadays A Womens Gotta Hit A Man”, the band reached silence. You couldn’t hear a pin drop… then we hear the intro we’ve all been waiting for followed by a gentle “SINGING THROUGH YOU TO ME… THUNDERBOLTS CAUGHT EASILY” The crowd were in heaven! Raising his arm and pointing to them, Drumbo ejaculated a very impressive “EEELLLLLEEEECCCCCTRRRRIIIIIIIICITYYYYYYYYY” … silence again… then… the bass comes in… oh man… my brain’s feel good factor was about to explode with joy. Then it occurs to me, why have they not got a theremin? The whole paoint of that song is to listen for the theremin? I was not disappointed. Out of nowhere the 8 string guitar player pulls out an iPad with an app that emulates a theremin sound very well, to the obvious approval of the crowd. At the conclusion of their first set, they leave the stage to take a well earned break.
Drumbo appears 20 minutes later to have a casual chat with the crowd and reel off some interesting Beefheart related stories to do with record labels, and how not to get screwed over. Shortly after he starts walking around the drum kit with everyone anticipating that he’ll play it. Without his shadow having time to catch up with him, he fires himself behind the kit and the whole crowd erupt with sheer happiness. He blasts through an interesting original Drumbo solo which gets a great reception from the crowd. He then leaves the stage again and the band resurface once more, this time to open the 2nd set with a blinding rendition of “On Tomorrow”, the punters smiling like cheshire cats.
His new Magic Band line up are incredible, they would make Beefheart proud. If you closed your eyes, it was as though The Captain had been resurrected along with his various line ups. Drumbo-as-Beefheart is scarily accurate. This is the closest I’ll ever get to embracing the legacy. As the set comes to a close, the mood drops and Drumbo picks up on this, promising: “We’ll back soon Nottingham, thank you for having us!”
As the smoke cleared, I snapped back into reality. Did that really just happen? Has Drumbo altered part of my psyche? The haunting wake up call that it’s all over and you have to be up at half 7 for work the next day hit me. But what the heck, my soul has been cleansed. So all in all a good night was had. A varying set with songs from near enough every album that Drumbo played on. My next wish is Trout Mask Replica played in full, then I can die happy (You’re too young to die, Asa! – Oz). Tonight was a celebration of a band that achieved so much. As I left the venue and caught my bus back to Arnold, I stared up out of the window at the moon and it started to snow… tonight there’d be ice cream!
This review previously appeared on the now defunct Bootroom Of Ozymandias blog.
Citrus Penguin (who also operates under the alias Manuff) is an amazing young talent I discovered in a record shop in Nottingham… working behind the counter! You can find any amount of his weird and wonderful creations on soundcloud and mix cloud (as Citrus Penguin) and I earnestly implore you to do so. If you wish to refresh your Proggy palate, you can even catch him in p*nky mode on http://youtu.be/Ie4I7BZBMnY (“Hung Like Hanratty”? That’s real tasteful, dude!) I’m expecting great things from this guy…