Toon Festival Lichtfabriek, 14-18th 04, 04. by Richard Foster

“Ok, so we only went to one night. ”

“Ok, so we only went to one night. “

Ok, so we only went to one night. Well you know, that’s the sort of lazy selfish and irresponsible journalism you will just have to put up with form us here at Incendiary. Who do you think we are, leaders of Red Squirrel Patrol?

Actually, I’ve started on a grumpy note, which is daft, because, along with two other (seriously unmentionable) evenings, Friday 16th April has to be the toppermost of the poppermost.

You know when you get one night, ONE night, when everything; location, companions, atmosphere, music, comestibles; the whole shebang, comes together and presents itself as a glamorous gift-wrapped whole? Well, this was it. The setting. God. The Lichtfabriek is a beautiful renovated early twentieth century factory stuffed with things that make old disused factories beautiful; with glazed tiles up to the ceiling, giving a feeling you are in fucking Rivendell, or Heorot, or Khazad Dhum; certainly not an old industrial complex outside Haarlem. Anyway, before I lose it any further I’d better describe what this beautiful hall housed. The main part was full of installation art, made by the likes of Jim O Rourke; you know the thing; quirky pieces made from “found objects”. All, doubtless, supposed to show this futility and commercialism of modern life, and the individuals’ alienation in society. Actually it was a pile of irrelevant shite. And with that in mind, I indulged, nay reveled in snickering at all the art coolios, with their precocious children. Hahahahahaha…

Before looking at the arty kack, we’d had a beer in the beautiful bar (cheap grub, nice atmosphere), and you know, when you see the drummer out of rock giants Can, Jaki Liebezeit, (now head honcho of Nu Dub Players), eating his curry only 20 yards from you, everything is awlright. Shit, this couldn’t happen in the UK or the US; finding Can’s drummer nodding to you in an unconcerned way , drumming his fingers on the table, chilled out that no one was going to hassle him, knowing everyone was here just for his music. Imagine, say, NERD or fucking Bono doing the same at a small festival in Cleethorpes. See what I mean?

Fast forwarding to the music.. Sauntering into the small part of the Lichtfabriek, we were confronted with everything you need; beautiful bar, a bloody record stall, (full of all the electronic/avant garde/post modern music you want), and room for about 150 people. Amazing. But this was nothing in light of what was to come. A hush descended, an introduction was given, and out stepped Hans Joachim Rodelius, of Cluster and Harmonia. Inspiration to Bowie, Eno, et al.  Rodelius sat down, turned on his Moog, and played vast, otherworldly Graf Zeppelin womb music: never faltering, never trying to flatter, at one with his muse. Listening to it was to confirm that everything and anything and is possible; an amazingly positive soundtrack. I was almost ashamed of my earlier art installation sneering, and as for the rest of the audience, God, a first in Holland, they were enraptured. You could honestly have heard a pin drop. Forty minutes and a “voila” later, he pottered off, leaving, after a further introduction, a stage clear for Dieter Moebius and Michael Rother.

At this point, I nearly wet meself. I’d been brought up on the sheer musical invincibility of Neu! And now I was actually going to see Rother, in the company of Cluster’s Moebius, fergodssake. A different set from Rodelius, belying the pair’s Neu! and Harmonia  pedigrees; motorick percussion, with beautiful guitar and synth licks. Moebius complemented Rother’s sugary, insistent guitar with weird noises, straight outta his solo adventures with Conny Planck in the late 1970s. There were even moments when the music, (for all the music was new, no old favourites), veered into Neu! territory; snatches, (or was I dreaming), of Fur Immer, nearly had me in tears.

Last up, by way of contrast, were Nu Dub Players, centered round Jaki Liebezeit; possibly the greatest drummer of the 1970s, (yes, I know , but really; Led Zep & the Who? This is a man who used to drum non stop for up to 3 hours ferfuckssake..)..

Out smashed the familiar totemistic shaman-esque freak n roll wall of percussive noise, complimented by tonalities of guitar and synth. Liebezeit pulverized the room. If only I’d seen Can in their pomp. Pistols? Nerr.. Led Zep? You fucking joking? Pale shadows all.

After reading all this I am quite aware that you, the young vibrant up n coming generation, have the perfect right to call me a sentimental wash out, hankering for things I’ve never seen, (and never will). But its gonna be difficult to go to a gig after seeing this without thinking that there were some things the hippy generation got right….