Wed 11th May 2005
Support from Winnebago Deal, Future Ex Wife
Yes! I've been waiting for this for a very long time. Back at the end of the last decade 'Jalamanta' (Brant Bjork's debut solo album) was the album of choice at my student flats for intoxicated summer night after intoxicated summer night. The excitement of being here tonight isn't because this is an ex-Kyuss member (as the adverts for the tour constantly remind) - it's because of the amazing, tripped out jams that have filled Bjork's four solo albums to date. Okay, maybe I'm not speaking for the whole audience there - and that fanboy thrill for me went originally to the time I saw him drum for Fu Manchu in Leeds...
First up are locals Future ex Wife, and they are fantastic. Instantly grabbing the room's attention, they play a glorious, distinctive brand of rock 'n' roll, which at times is deceivingly heavy, as huge riffs fly right at you. Joined towards the end by the female singer from frontman Pete Spiby's other band, Dirty Blood, for an excellent southern-states style track, they finish on a high by beginning a cover of 'Dazed and Confused' before bringing the set to an abrupt close only a minute in. Excellent.
Next up are Winnebago Deal. Now, chances are, if you've attended a stoner gig in the UK in the last year or two, you've seen Winnebago Deal. They're on top form tonight, and, at their riotous best, have the by-now full room lapping it up. Fears that they are one-trick ponies are more likely to be scrutinised on their records than a short sharp half-hour set. Yet I still find my attention wavering towards the end - probably due to having seen them the week before supporting High on Fire. Now you can't blame them for taking so many support gigs - in fact you should probably applaud them (or their management) for getting so many plum slots. But, for me, on this night, over-exposure takes its toll and I head bar-wards.
Not long after and Brant Bjork strides on stage to take guitar and vocal duties, flanked by his merry band of Bros. With his trademark, mad-scientist frizzy hair failing to be controlled by his hat, and a maniacal grin plastered on his face, Bjork looks more than a tad crazed. When the music begins, the mesmerised stare spreads to the crowd. The songs from his four albums translate perfectly to the live setting, becoming trippy, spaced out jams that transfix one and all. Blending into each other, and with a suspicious smelling cloud of smoke lingering in the air, it's hard not to get lost in the atmosphere created. Punctuated only a couple of times by more standard-structure 'songs' (i.e. verse-chorus; four minutes long) from the 'Brant Bjork and the Operators' album, the band are locked in a groove from beginning to end. Magical, stunning and, unbelievably, more than I had hoped.