Older indie fans might remember a time around the year 2000 when, to fit with Japanese TV schedules, the likes of Seafood and Idlewild would play live shows at the Astoria on a Saturday lunchtime which were transmitted direct to Tokyo. Those heady, if slightly confusing days, are long gone. But the spirit still lives on every now again, which is why we find ourselves being serenaded by NUHA RUBY RA at Kings Cross Lafayette at midday one Tuesday. Actually ‘serenaded’ is a slight understatement as Nuha Ruby Ra is a one-woman sonic wrecking ball, her sports goth attire at one with a sound which is soulful, industrial, groovy and gloomy, often all at the same time. We think she resembles Donna Summer having a total nervous breakdown. We tell her so after the show and she doesn’t actually scowl at us. Result!
The gently sacred Nuha Ruby Ra is performing at this ungodly hour as part of the Independent Venue Week launch for 2023. It’s the 10th anniversary of the perky organisation’s bold attempt to bolster the nation’s toilet circuiting coffers at the end of January each year, so there is added intensity to this industry event. There are added regional promoting guests too, with Nathan from the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds making the most of his time in the onstage spotlight to say that ultimately, we’re all Lifers in this gigging world.
Hull quartet LIFE would surely agree about the Lifer tag: the following night at the Scala, just on the other side of Kings Cross station, they are on heady headlining form after light years of heavy lifting on the touring circuit. Pre-post-punk, ie formed way before post-punk became A Thing which every other band did, their gnarly indie barkings possess a Lifestyle of their own, raucous and ragged but now as polished as a Warsaw-based wood veneer expert.
The Life support is ace, too: PRIESTGATE are a furiously curious fivepiece, their hypertense singer stripped to the wasted waist while they sound not unlike Suede falling down a gothic rabbit hole, while openers SNAYX (as in ‘snakes’, not ‘snacks’) are a prowling, growling assualt on the senses with one drummer, one bassist and a beefy stormtrooper of a frontman who screams into the front row’s alarmed faces and generally puts the world to rights track by gut-punching track, like Sleaford Mods on horse-stunning steroids.
If only the rest of the month of October were as accommodating to the Pandaman’s gigging whims as Kings Cross we would have hit our target of witnessing 365 live performances in 2022 by Halloween. Sadly, much of the month’s live music diary is so monumentally shredded by train strikes, cancelled shows and hectic engineering work diversions that it is already clear that that target is going to be way beyond our reach, not least because the soccerballing World Cup in Qatar is tearing over the horizon to really put a spoke in the wheels of the gig-planning permabulator.
And you have to be tidy on your toes even when already out and about: an abandoned show at the Grace in Highbury on a casual Monday night leads to a mercy dash on the London Overground to go and see PRINCESS CHELSEA at the Moth Club in Hackney Village. If we’re in the dark about the performer’s provenance, then so are many of the punters lurking in the autumnal shadows outside. “I saw her song on TikTok” is the general rallying cry, and so they did. If they saw her beaming Miley Cyrus smile onscreen then they would surely have been double hooked.
If that implies that Princess Chelsea is a flyaway pop proposition then rest assured hers is a restless, rust-free live show of fragrant maturity. A stalwart of the New Zealand music scene for over a decade, she comes armed with a backing band with impeccably choreographed instrument changes and bravely starts off with the kind of sad, slow-moving moderately experimental music which Kate Bush might dismiss as being a bit too mopey. The rest of the set is a slick-but-honest blast of genre-blurring musical excellence which has enough charm and chutzpah to have the teenage girls enraptured and the old indie blokes in raptures. Come the close the Princess Chelsea crew are getting royally ragged with a massive Baggy beat and a groovy vibe as they step on towards bigger venues. Very Happy Mondays, on so many levels…
PANDAMAN’S 2022 TOTAL: 272