Sophia live at the Patronaat. 26.03.04 by Richard Foster

"Weird night, this. "

Weird night, this. The new Patronaat filled up steadily with the kind of people all you RocknRoll kids wished you'd had for parents, (i.e. forty something grown out Goths), and people I vaguely remember seeing walking round Newcastle University campus in 1990. I even saw a lumberjack shirt coupled with a General E Lee hairdo; as if the long lost member of Teenage Fanclub had finally got off Sakhalin. Lummy.

We took our seats in the all new Patronaat; (at present doubling as a Lancastrian working men's club). Lawn came on, and proceeded to play two versions of the same song all set. One reminded me of the sheer, numbing, gut wrenching, pissiness of dragging your weekly shopping up 5 flights of stairs, when the lift's broken; (that was the up tempo one). The other reminded my mate Nick of the little known Canadian band, Godspeed You Black Hobbit. (That'll be the down tempo one leading to a crescendo of feedback). Aw, they were alright really, and friendly, to boot; which, in the light of later events, was something of a relief.

Sophia, led by maestro and all round "quiet musical influence" Robin Proper –Sheppard, swept on to promote their new, grandiosely heartbreaking, Country Goth behemoth that is the "People Are Like Seasons" album. That's what the band wanted to do anyway; with tracks like "So Slow" and "Fool". The problem was that half the people there were obviously expecting P-S's God Machine back catalogue repertoire. The other half were all deaf. Deaf to the sepia tinged beauty of Sophia's music. And, obviously, deaf enough not to hear their mates, who were standing about a foot away. That situation, consequently, led to lots of people shouting merrily at each other, whilst having a beer. The music became just a backdrop. Which, in turn leads me, yet again, to the question of people yapping throughout gigs here in Holland. Yeah, I know, the artists have to win an audience over; after all they are supposed to be professional musicians, and throwing stroppy swearing tantrums, (as Mr. P-S did here near the end, as Ian McCulloch did, as Badly Drawn Boy did), just shows up the fact that artists may have to work a leetle harder. They're not gods, and not Elton Johns. But. Actually, this has FUCK ALL to do with the performers. It's got to do with me and other skint people, who can have just the one drink, and have to catch the early train or else they're fucked and wandering streets all night, unable to afford a taxi. We pay money we can just afford, to watch a gig. We don't pay the person in front of us to talk through the concert, we pay the band. If people want to go and have a good time talking to each other, FUCK OFF home and put your stereo on. Anyway, back to the gig. Sophia decided to crank up the volume, playing swirling circular riffs, with repetitive doom laden vocals that had you on your toes, straining for the noisy denouments that you were hoping would come. Still not enough for the audience, though. Post strop, and left till the last song, the volume was cranked to the max, (incidentally, never have I heard such a clear, crystalline, and LOUD sound at a gig), with a noisy "fuck you" send off. Amazing. Enough to make you buy the entire back catalogue. As I said, weird night.