Spectrum, Hallo Venray, 19/03/10, Db’s, Utrecht

Of course this behemoth of sound didn’t end till every conceivable squeal could be wrung from the smoking, battered instruments


Nice club, Db’s, the interior very reminiscent of some 1950’s coffee bar; to whit - pool table, Formica table tops, and lots of Teds lounging around. Normally we’d have revelled in this but Incendiary weren’t here to hang around. Having rushed from the city centre’s attractive bars and bistros, we had to ensure we got in to see Spectrum, who was due on stage at the unfeasibly early hour of 8.30…

Peter Kember has been on something of a creative roll lately, and breathless reviews from other Incendiary correspondents in the UK (some of whom being seasoned Kember-watchers) had us drooling in anticipation. Typical then, for our hope to swiftly turn to anxiety as Mr. K began to have issues with the soundman, who apparently was a rookie. Oh great… First the guitar lead played up, and then, a few bars into Mary, the bass amp blared through the monitor to such deleterious effect that the song was effectively scuppered there and then. Oh bugger. Speakers were moved, pedals were twiddled with and Henk from Hallo Venray dispatched to find a guitar lead that actually worked. 

Finally things started to get going; Set Me Free was the lo-key mantra we all wanted, and War Sucks was a blistering highlight. Kember is a master at combining a simple message with vast aural theatrics that threaten to overpower the audience through their sheer monotonous insistence. As for Revolution, it was shattering, enervating, and explosive. The opening lines still send a shiver down the spine of this reviewer, even after all this time.  In some ways this old stuff sounded more inspiring at Db’s; it had an authority gained with years and a real spring in its step. For all the association with the ethereal and the fleeting moment, Kember’s songs are tough beasts, able to reinvent & reinvigorate themselves at will. Seemingly on a roll, and finally happy with the sounds emitting from the monitors, Spectrum finished the set with a huge burning zeppelin of noise replete with feedback, pedal and knob twiddling. Of course this behemoth of sound didn’t end till every conceivable squeal could be wrung from the smoking, battered instruments. Given the beginning, and given the circumstances, a triumph.

Hallo Venray suffered similar problems with the mixing desk crew, though it wasn’t as immediately noticeable as their sound can exist in a lower register. In fact it was quite interesting to watch them with Henk’s guitar so low in the mix as this afforded attention to be partially switched to the rhythm section - which has to be the moist driving, battering one I have ever witnessed in a band. The drummer has undoubtedly ingested Keith Moon’s wayward, pixie spirit, and the bass underpins the sound in a metronomic, but very bubbly manner. But what wins through every time with Hallo Venray is their simple, energetic and very effective rock. Very slacker, very Generation X but none the worse for that. Right to Know is a stonking track, all snarls and curled lips. Woman and You Lost It are similarly tremendous slabs of burning metal, full of feedback and squeals and grit. Finally the sound on Henk’s guitar went up a notch and we were able to enjoy watching the pyrotechnics between amp and guitar, which is something of a trademark performance of Mr Koorn’s …

Sadly things had to be curtailed after about 6 numbers due to the urgency of catching a train that wasn’t the dreaded Utrecht-Amsterdam-Leiden night train  but a top night was had all round, and we’ll certainly be back to savour the bar in Db’s very soon.