Saturday, April 07, 2018
The Band of Holy Joy at The Ivy House
Richard Strange sat at the side of the stage and while Holy Joy set up, he tried to disentangle something- a lead perhaps?- from under one of the tall PA speakers. As he tipped the speaker, the fake potted plant on top of it tumbled straight on to the keyboard on the other side of the speaker. It was very funny to watch, especially because it appeared to happen in slow motion. Missing a branch or two, the plant was soon restored to its position. It gave credence to the saying 'A disaster waiting to happen'.
Who puts pot plants on top of PA speakers? Terry Gilliam does, actually.
The Band of Holy Joy are a modern-day beat group, and Johny Brown is a real on-the-edge pop star who flies around the margins on a magic carpet. He sings with passion and authenticity and looks like a Dionysian preacher, ploughing his way through moral wastelands (the list of baddies was very familiar; how horrible corporate-speak is, and those who speak, or usually email, it!) and directing a fierce gaze at truth through the clouds of daily crap that clog up life. Occasionally wielding a tinny red cowbell, and sometimes a lone drumstick with nothing to hit, in for instance Don't Stick Knives in Babbies Heads, he roared, crooned and pleaded his way through a set of emotionally powerful songs. The Band of Holy Joy inhabit a unique world conjured up out of an oblique take on indie music, which sounds pale and watery in comparison. The bass playing is powerful, the guitar cuts like a choppy knife, the keyboards add comments and textures and the drummer doubles on backing vocals. Inge's projections add a whole other dimension, sometimes inscribing random words across Johny's suit, and at one point what look like Turkish Freemasons spin around the screen. Bands with strong songs like this are a real treat to see. The Aspidistra House sounded great, as always, and Funambulist We Love You was a perfect encore, so they got another one.
This was a loving gem of a night; what a superb band they are.
[nice to see you Kim and Simon!]