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The Kooks - 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark (Album Review)

The Kooks

10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark

Album review by Captain Stavros

It’s the first time since Wednesday I’ve pulled back my blackout curtains and properly gotten out of bed, I’ve been laid up with COVID (world’s tiniest violin plays in the background).  When the sun hits me, with its unrelenting light, I’m reminded of the scene in Terminator 2 when everyone at the children’s playground is incinerated and reduced to ashes once the bomb explodes, levelling LA.  Unfortunately for me, the machines haven’t achieved sentience and thrown off humanities shackles, yet.  Still, I’m sure they’d probably have written a better album than the Kooks, and a better review for 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark than I’m about to.  Both will make you want to pull the curtains shut again or, at the very least after listening to it, make you wish you had COVID instead.

What even is a Kook?  Some might say it’s my downstairs neighbour, who’s covered his balcony door in tin foil, the faint rustling of which still filters its way up through into my flat whenever there’s a gentle breeze a week past the heatwave.  Others, myself included, might say they were part of the English indie invasion (I’m not from here) that came in around the early ‘00s as CDs were on their way out.  Brighton, around that time, birthed some of the UK’s most successful indie rock. Most notably Blood Red Shoes, Fujiya & Miyagi and, perhaps best known for their viral videos, The Go! Team.  The former are still around and, like any organism on Earth, have evolved as they’ve continued to grow, but have The Kooks?

Luke Pritchard’s (I wonder if he’s any relation to Eddie Pritchard the valedictorian from my grade school that went on to sell class A drugs in high school and most recently went full MAGA/QAnon?) vocals are The Kooks defining sound.  When they surfaced onto the scene, no one had any idea what a Scouse was where I was from but the inflection in Luke’s vocals is inarguably their USP abroad.  The crooked Liverpudlian crux in Luke’s voice, albeit recognisable to mainlanders here as ‘northern’, is certainly uncommon abroad and I’d argue drew most to the newly minted fresh-faced lads.  Or maybe it could have been the ground-breaking lyrics like, “do you wanna, do you wanna, do you wanna make love to me”, probably no one will ever know.  We’d argue it was the silliness of it all, infecting plastic young minds with their sound, band name and sophomoric lyrics.

10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark, you’ll be happy to know, carries on lyrically along the same vein. Pedestrian, but Luke’s voice has smoothened with more range.  ‘Connection’, the first track, is unrecognizable from the iconic stripped back sounds on Konk and could easily pass off as produced by The Weekend.  It’s enjoyable but forgettable, and one day you might even be embarrassed to have said you listened to and enjoyed it, like The Weekend.  The band cites Philip K Dick and Asimov for the albums sci-fi and optimistic inspiration, which they hope comes across and which I, personally, find insulting as a fan of the aforementioned.  Lay off the Can-D and Cew-Z will ya?

Recorded in Berlin (Lou must be spinning in his grave) for the sole reason the band wanted a “European Sound” because they’re a “European Band”, there’s seemingly no influence on the album from one of Europe’s most evolved cities.  Instead, what we get is a pick’n’mix of different sounds slapped together that pass off more as American pop (metronome, morse-code samples, boring keys, children’s choir backing vocals and clapping) than a Berlin sound.

I filtered haphazardly, truth be told, through the 10 tracks; not particularly being gripped by any and finding no redeemable music of which to speak on the album.  The Kook’s new joint suffers from a lack of identity and has zero sense of direction, it’s an album that comes across as produced to fulfil contractual obligations.  This might actually be its most sellable feature though.  To most late 30s/early 40s somethings, the band’s name will ring a bell.  Perhaps those on their way to a full-blown mid-life crisis, it’ll probably pull at them like a siren’s call.

To those that liken the early ‘00s indie sound to that of what the Grunge scene was to the ‘90s, it’ll keep them at arm’s length. 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark is an album we wished had stayed hidden in the dark.  It sounds dangerously similar to the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Spitting Off the Edge of the World’ track, a half-baked attempt at new music.  God help us if all the ‘00s jamsters come back from the grave sounding like this.



I Experienced A Failure Show

Our dear friend and contributor, Dr. Sebastian Von Gekruldhaar, has sent another missive.  Here he records his latest excursion into cultural anthropology, featuring Failure in Toronto's Velvet Underground.

While in Toronto, Ontario a couple weekends ago for a conference concerning the human anthropological advancements and drawbacks within modern society, I was fortunately led astray for an evening.  So much of the day was taken up by lecturer after lecturer speaking on the positive effects us humans have had, and will continue to have, within our time on this fantastic planet.  It all became a redundant blur.  Clearly, an attempt to shine a light on the 'good news' of the day to comfort, when there is so much of the 'bad news' we are inundated with on a constant basis.  But I sought out to hear our shortcomings, our drawbacks, our failures.

I used the Google machine and searched "failure toronto" which resulted in an event at The Velvet Underground on the Sunday night.  Arrival for 7:30.  A brief documentary at 8:30, then followed by what appeared to be three gentlemen and a discussion on the topic of "Failure".  I hastily purchased a ticket and arrived in proper time.  While standing in line, I noticed the age of the crowd's attendants varied.  Some older than myself, well into their 50s, and with some as young adults.  Some even wore shirts that said "Failure" on them.  I postulated the three men must have some very unique insights on the topic of Failure because they clearly have a loyal following.

After walking into the venue, clearly named after Michael Leigh's 1963 paperback release (which gave me pause in case of unwarranted sexual perversions), the room was unconventional for a lecture.  There were musical instruments on stage, perhaps for a house band dedicated to the venue.  I purchased a spirit from the tattooed barkeep, a Roku Koori Negroni to be exact, and walked to the brick wall, waiting for our documentary viewing to begin before the host lecturers.

The documentary began with a young girl singing a sweet, lullaby-type melody with her acoustic guitar.  I thought this was an odd way to begin the viewing, but I figured the context would make itself apparent later on.

Which it did - but not in the context I was hoping for.  And I realized the night's event would be absence of a lecture, but presence of a rock and roll band.  A band named Failure.  How foolish I was!  How my research with the Google machine failed me!  How I mentally kicked myself for being too easily led astray!  I felt too embarrassed to leave after purchasing the ticket for admittance.  Do I regret staying?

No. No. No.

Not one bit.

The evening only further developed my education in contemporary music, of which a fresh experience could only yield.

The documentary provided insight into this band Failure, testimonials by what appeared to be known fans and fellow musicians and actors.  I kept note of their names as best as possible.  Interviewees like a foul-mouthed Tommy Lee spoke highly of their beginnings; a garbage person by the name of Butch Vig said how he still listens to the band's 1996 album "Fantastic Planet" in its entirety to this day; a tradesperson named Maynard spoke of his high regard and respect for the band, and praising the co-main songwriter Gregory Edwards.  Other interviewees described their music as a "loud, dull roars", their dynamics of loud and quietness, with sounds from a distant galaxy beaming to Earth embossed within the music.  But the drawback and failing within the documentary viewing was how the three men fell into illegal drug habits.  Obviously, this would strain musical output and the relationships of the members within.  My later research showed an end to the band in 1997, but reformed in 2014.  The long break between in the band's activity was reflected in my observation of the vast range of the attendants ages.  What appeared was a band, not quite well-known, but highly respected and maintained interest in the public discourse enough to garner not one, but perhaps two new generations of fans and followers.  "There must be something special here", I thought, "and I must seek it out".  The documentary viewing then ended but transitioned to an animated episode called "Space Madness" from the show "Ren & Stimpy".  Yes, something special must be here from this band Failure, even within the context of the disturbingly, unrealistic animation of domesticated, anthropomorphic animals in outer space.

As the cartoon was resolving its story, the band members entered the stage to much applause.  Then as the video quickly faded to black, then band did not so much punch into the first song, but sonically blasted into their opening song which I later found out is titled Submarines, from their latest record "Wild Type Droid" (2021).  Standing further back from the stage, mid-crowd, not one body was still, heads and shoulders moved to Failure's deep rhythms and along with the drummer's pummeling, care of Kellii Scott.  It was not just the opening song, though.  Track after track, song after song, my fellow crowdmates were continuously enamored by the performance and celebratory at the conclusion of each song.

The second loudest applause of the evening was when the PA system for the Velvet Underground popped and shut off half way through Bad Translation.  The trio had to take a moment, the singer on stage right, Kenneth Andrews, was not impressed - but luckily, the venue patrons were.  Impressed that their performance over-powered the PA, as if the electronic system needed a breather.  Brief cries of disappointment followed with a slow clap to an erupting crowd-wide applause, cheering Failure back on.  Kenneth walked up to the microphone to declare "Let's do that from the beginning." We, the people, agreed.

After playing for an hour or so, engulfing every dead space in The Velvet Underground, Failure went back stage, only to play peekaboo, and return with thunderous applause and cheers.  Kenneth stated the band would play some "older stuff".  In retrospect, I have come to find that the last six songs performed are the quintessential definition of what makes this rock band special.  These were the last six tracks of that seminal masterpiece of an album, "Fantastic Planet".  The music itself was haunting, but caressing; orchestral grandiose, but through minimal instrumentation; moments of delusion and depression, offset with a glimmer of hope; other-worldly, but familiarly human.  This was defining work.  This was artistic expression.  There was a high I felt that night, only trying to replicate it in the two weeks since attending.  I have come up short, only to obsess in the relistening of those songs in commemoration of their performance, the crowd singing along to The Nurse Who Loved Me and Stuck On You.  We heard their story of hitting life's lows, only to see them on the other side, stronger from each of the members' own failures.

I found Failure that Sunday night.  And their anecdotal music was not the lecture I wanted, but the lecture we needed, cementing their special-ness.

Dr. Sebastian Von Gekruldhaar July, 2022


Rockaway Beach 2020, Butlin's, Bognor Regis - The Captain Stavros Opinion

B-U-T-L-I-N-S that's the way you spell SUCCESS! What better way to wipe away those January blues than with a hop, skip and a train ride down to the seaside? If you have no clue as to the meaning of 'Dry January' and wouldn't  mind enjoying a variable smorgasbord of new, old, weird and wild music making your way out to where you can meet some like-minded spirits is at the top of your to-do list. There is no shortage of characters and bands with character.

It's 12:30pm Friday the 9th of January, the Chief and I are supposed to be setting off out my door for our train at this very moment when the zipper to a packed duffle bag breaks off in my hand and the bag splits open like a fortune cookie. I look up at the Chief, he looks back at me through his stone-cold blue marbles emotionless. Fortunately there's a Plan B. Unphased by our plight behind a thick bearded and lush mane of hair I draw strength from the Chief's indifference to the situation unfolding before us. “Two minutes Turkish” I wish I'd yelled instead I duck into the wardrobe for a backup bag still in it's original packaging waiting to save me on this very date fated by the universe itself. Somewhere just out of earshot a starter pistol cracks off a blank, and we're off.

I'm not sure what Bognor Regis is like, or the Butlins for that matter, in the summer but I'm almost certain I'd hate it. I hate crowds and children but this place suffers from neither near mid-January. The tiny town is littered with unplucked vintage items hanging heavy on the vine, reasonable prices and a seemingly never ending string of cozy pubs and parks. Not only that but follow any of the winding village roads down hill and you'll be met with the roar of the ocean as the tide crashes into the pebbled beach in the morning only to ebb away at night with equal force. It's a delight to both wake up and fall asleep to if you can manage either of those that is with so many things going on. Okay, okay, let's talk music.

Day One kicks off for us at 19:00, giving those leaving cities plenty of time to make it in for the first act. Musos' Crew however were more concerned about hitting the buffet as we'd arrived with plenty of time to spare. Attacking the salad bar with a fervor unseen by most the Black Country, New Road (@BlackCountryNewRoad) crew slinks in behind me. At buffets I've got compound vision so while I stare and continue loading my plate(s) I yell, 'oh hey, really looking forward to your set!' which is met with young faces full of concerns for my welfare, but more likely their own well being considering the sight before them. The 6-piece were highly recommended by Martin, bassist of Cling Film (@ClingFilmBand) touting them as not to be missed. He was right. Whisper's of 'they're so young' came from the middle aged+ crowd surrounding me at the front of the stage but quickly turned into awe before the end of the first track. Raucous applause continued to rise and fall throughout the rest of their set as well. Slow building and methodical each note is deliberate and cutting. The music swims in bridled restraint, brimming with tension. The pacing reminds me of soundscapes from years ago, each of their songs told a story. They didn't speak much outside of the lyrics sung by Isaac (vocals/guitar) but if you watched closely you'd see a shorthand shared between band mates of candid smiles and subtle nods. Unhurried and remarkably uninterrupted by the tanked up crowd it was an experience that stood out this weekend. The next morning after a gluttonous breakfast I ran into them as they checked out of our hotel. We chatted for a few and recommended if anyone in the UK wanted to catch a performance they'd be rolling through January and February. Most performances I've learned are sold-out, unsurprisingly, but if you're lucky enough to be in place where they aren't (yet) catch a show, you won't be disappointed.

Speaking of anything but disappointment out comes John Cale in blazer and jockey trousers; next level man. A legend to me personally he doesn't let down. On the streets you'd likely pass John without drawing a second glance, on stage however, good luck taking your eyes off this Demon God, he drew them in in droves. John's left hand grips and slackens around the fretboard sliding up and down the neck like a piston while his right snipes each string precisely, each note hits hard and dirty. Watching John, a multi-nstrumentalist as comfortable behind the keys as he is the strings is impressive enough in and of itself. His voice is another thing completely, a musical machine of feat and strength it belts out and holds the notes for what seems like an eternity. Although he's survived the '80s and being surrounded by heroin on this night he was blasted by LED torches thanks to the stage crew that rocked him so hard off balance and probably within inches of his life. Nonetheless he left the stage as gracefully as he entered, albeit with detached retinas.


The next day after a light breakfast trunks and towels in hand we head off to the indoor, newly built state of the art, water park situated next to us, purely for research ... Ambient music piped through the speakers as we ripped and shot through pipes and flumes unencumbered by the lack of children which was the cherry on the sundae of an already glorious afternoon. Truth be told, I've always hated ambient music but it takes all kinds and now I'm certain of it. Floating upside down on a giant inflatable banana with a smaller inflatable bat under my feet for support as half naked human people around me bounce giant inflatable eyeballs off each other over the waves and music rolls off us all alike. I was pretty blissed out  when I caught the DJ's eye as he spun tunes from between two inflatable palm trees behind the decks. Upside down on my giant yellow banana I threw up, to him an inverted, thumbs up, which in hindsight I now realize betrayed my true feelings on his set. He reciprocated by cocking an eyebrow in acknowledgment and returned to making the sweet ambrosia that trickled its way back down my ear canal as I closed my eyes and wiggled my pruned toes in the wave pool's water. Two heavily chlorinated waves filling up both nostrils and sinus cavities I crawled and hacked a lung up back ashore. Land-ho, landlubber. 

Dried out and un-pruned at the Red Stage we catch our first gig of the day, The Sweet Release Of Death (@the_sweet_release_of_death). Is there any way to prepare for TSRD? No to both band and tragic ends. If I could sum up in a few words their sound, it would go a little like this. Imagine if you will the terrible (in a GREAT way) sounds from far and wide across the land by some horrible miracle came together to find themselves near one another. Eventually they'd meet crashing into one other uncompromisingly, culminating in a perfect storm of sound and calamity.  I'm still probably selling them short. It was pretty wild, an organized chaos I very much enjoyed them. Small on talk, big on sound, would recommend.

Up next we caught Our Girl (@weareourgirl). I had the pleasure of watching them open for Blood Red Shoes back at the Oslo circa 2016. That year I must've watched them another 3 times as they toured. I was happy to see them on the bill and made the time to catch their set. The band has fully crystallized since it's synthesis. Nathan, (vocals/guitar) has had a very good year and rocked all around the stage more than ever before, she seeped confidence and was in her element, 'it's our first show this year' certainly won't be their last either. Looking forward to big things from this gang and hopefully hearing some new tunes as nothing on the bill had changed from 2016 ... If you haven't already heard of Our Girl, where've ya been?           

Speaking of where've ya been, if you weren't at the main stage for Nova Twins, fuck if you didn't miss out on catching the Golden Goose. These East London meets Harajuku Birds of Prey are not only out of this world, they're from another galaxy all together. Materializing before us they came out blasting, BOTH barrels, klap, klap, krack, KRACK. It was fucking insane. Let's go through the check list, shall we? Look, check and on point. Attitude, check, obviously. Talented AS FUCK Double/Triple check, in the eternal words of the B.B., you can't, you won't and you DON'T stop, illest of communication. These bad-ass-shes blew my mind. Hyperbole aside they didn't break a sweat while dropping some SERIOUS heat. Georgia South, if Flea, Morello and Sailor Moon had a lovechild, is by far the most prolific, talented and technically profound bassist of her generation that I have EVER seen I was awed she augmented that bass into some sort of technical wizardry with bluetooth ring wah? Lethal as all get-out,  all while wearing a smile on her siren face. Might be I fell a bit in love, speaking of love, Amy Love. Her axe and those epic locks of hers shredded most absolutely. Nothing and no one was safe, she tore apart the stage with her pipes and then set her sights on the crowd, diving in to bring everyone's bodies bouncing up and down. They came fast and hard and it feels like they left all too quickly because before I knew it the set was gone. They're playing Feb 6th in London, don't miss it. If you do, they've got gigs across the land (galaxy) coming, catch 'em while you can.

Rounding the bases for the final day in B.R. we walk by the beach on a most windy but gloriously sunny day that sets the spirits soaring. Attempting to hit the town museum we hit a wall instead, closed. Around the corner however is the Dog and Duck a hole in the wall but brightly lit and packed micro-pub. We chin-wagged with owner/bartender/former Londoner/full time cockney and ex-TV cameraman Steve 'what's the girl version of your name' who had no shortage of fine ales and banter. 'Oi ai, I've seen plenty of Kennethina's in my day' the chief touts as I snagged a half of a still/cloudy blood orange cider and crossed the street to lean against a sunbeam streaking down and across a weather beaten cement one storey. The ocean crashed in the near distance and I crashed back for seconds before I nearly forgot, Go-Karts, MUSIC!          

Rushing back to Rockaway Beach we threw ourselves around the petrol fumed bends on karts made of steel, best opening band ever? They certainly had chops. Thoroughly rung-out we headed to the Red Stage to catch an afternoon of tunes. Unfortunately the afternoon for me would be spoiled by the front-men for both Life and Heavy Lungs. Both had excellent musicians irrespective of their front men, essentially caricatures of what a front man should be. Absolutely ridiculous and clowny antics seemingly for no other reason than a lack of musical capability. Ravings and watered down philosophies spewed out of their mouths in the form of banter and lyrics, yikes. Unlike them, their band mates could very much throwdown. I don't mean to be this harsh, honestly I'm biting my tongue. Truly I'm sorry they're not both lead by Heavy Lung's drummer George Garratt who beats the drums as hard as he does his voice. 'Is this music?' he yells into the mic from behind front man Danny Nedelko who dances like a confounded fool belly dancer molesting himself shamelessly while removing his shirt front and center stage, 'we don't know' he offers with a shrug. My boy George, it surely is not. (Knowing the bloke's name now further cements my indifference to Idles - Ed.)

Although the rest of the day's music didn't do it for me I was given coins by the chief to play the 2p push-coin games as a distraction. Walking away after a few minutes of having squandered my riches, hands smelling of dirty copper, I reminisced about what I'd learned over the weekend, other than the fact I'm most likely incubating a gambling problem deep within me. Firstly, the vegetarian sausages are still as addictive as ever during the breakfast buffet. I did also become fairly proficient with the unlimited ice-cream machine by the end of the festival, stick to filling up mugs instead of bowls is my advice. FYI, Butlin's, removing the handles from the (my) machines so I couldn't drown my scrambled eggs in ice cream during breakfast? Dirty pool, shame on you! This year, as in last I discovered new music and looked forward to catching these acts again live as they once more tour the UK throughout the year. There were so many side events outside of the music too from pop up record shops, quizzes, dancing, Karting, Swimming the list goes on and on so that I was never short on having something fun and cheerful to do. From this year to last I also noticed a fair shift in both age and variety of the crowd. More youngsters and a lot more weirdos so I'm definitely down with that! Speaking of being down, I've never been one to be down with package deal holidays, I like creating my own adventure personally. That being said I will say I cannot begin to explain how refreshing it was having my every whim catered to and having to think zero percent of the time, truly a boutique festival experience. But don't take it from us, take it from Hollywood Super Star (tax evader) Wesley Snipes, always bet on Rockaway (Passenger 57 rerun on late night tv Sunday, couldn't help myself).


The Lasters, Album Launch, Somewhere In London

“Where the hell have you brought me to?” fellow Musos’ contributor Chicken Titz demanded of me, Captain Stavros, and rightfully so. I’ve kept her in the dark about tonight’s event thinking we’d both get a kick out of a little mystery. “What is this, some sort of lazer-tag orgy convention?' she spat scanning the crowd. Turns out what my idea of a mysterious and fun time is would be wrong, so very, very wrong. We pass a derelict pit behind Waterloo Station underneath an overpass by a chain-link fence that’s seen better days making our way to some blown out Community Theatre for the preview of Fred Deakin's “Space Opera” -The Lasters-. This performance was billed as an opera and maybe it was an opera in the sense that opera’s terrible.

Thinking this would be a performance of some prestige naturally we've arrived early and hungry so like far out cosmic black hole brethren we decided to consume the space time around us by shovelling Cuban food and Sangria into our gobs to pass the time. Full of hope, and food, we waddled over to the venue a few hundred feet away and awaited a unique and memorable experience as we queued up. At first, it genuinely seemed pretty cool set behind Waterloo Station - the vibes were post-apocalyptic-alley-meets-ghetto-chic dumpster fire with all the trimmings of a 2 star halfway house (coincidentally also the same rating of Fred's former graphic design company in Japan). Naturally we’d never feel compelled of our own free will to traverse this sort of landscape but an assignment is an assignment.

 Titz peers over the rim of her wine glass as she shoves a fistful of cheeses and cured meats into her face, sneering at me as we co-pen this article at my flat, she’s reading over my shoulder as I’m typing. “Maybe shut-up and get on with it” fair-play, we’ve got a lot to unpack here. She’s pulled up The Lasters KickStarter and points at some figures, my jaw drops. When giving a man (child) like Fred Deakin essentially carte blanche to do what he pleases with 35K (a 350% crowd funded blank-cheque) he’ll go ahead and produce a lazily and slapped together poorly written excuse of a musical a.k.a. Space Opera. A little backstory on Fred before the backstory of this story. Fred is a disc jockey. After Titz here spent several minutes Googling him to see if he played any instruments involving keys that weren't on a laptop all we could come up with were a list of various digital firms that were opened and closed (failed) all with exclamation marks! These included several mixed media companies and a bunch of 404'd websites, one common thread ran throughout all of Fred’s achievements: Fred really likes telling people about his story. Always with the story. You’d think with so much practice telling stories he’d actually be able to do so coherently and convincingly, not so. You might be asking yourself around this point ‘what type of people would fund this sort of self-indulgent behaviour?’ I mean, we definitely asked and if you did, well, we're glad you asked.

The funders, the fans, the fanatics all dressed in uniform with their The Lasters t-shirts handed out freely upon entrance in whatever size you wanted (except ours) made up the crowd this evening. These uniformed bodies filled the folding chairs of the theatre to capacity. Pensioners, human resource workers, off-off-off Broadway enthusiasts and laser-tag aficionados, people who needed to keep their buzz topped up throughout the performance hitting the bar over and over just to make it through, the list goes on... Strangers that were also compelled by their own compulsions to share their stories with each other at maximum volume over the top of one another in the over-crowded bar serving room temperature drinks at refrigerated prices, in much the same fervor as our good ole buddy Fred, birds of a feather. The only problem was that Titz and I didn't have any feathers, we just didn't fit in so we avoided eye contact at all costs and stole away into a corner by the toilets. I think the both of us respectively had a different idea of what 'Space' meant to us and the sagas within it (Titz is nodding and topping up our wine), but there's an audience for everything I suppose.

 Anyway, so Fred walks on stage in traditional Japanese kimono-top, bowing Buddha style, his palms together, and that was more than enough to trigger Titz' (she’s half Japanese). “No Japanese person wants to see a white gaijin doing that shit”. He begins th(w)anking everyone involved in producing The Lasters, from the audience to his wife (not present) for the moral support. He jokingly eludes to his wife's role differing from that of actual contributor to his work and also different to 2017's drama 'The Wife', where Glenn Close is considered intellectual, graceful, charming and diplomatic, whereas Joe is casual, vain and enjoys his very public role......................obviously not anything like Fred or his wife. Next we’re introduced to the musicians: Stephen Huw Davies in a boiler suit with sunglasses (which we later found out doubled as a space helmet), Abby Sinclair, Fred's daughter in the opera, came off as a toddler in overalls, would decide the fate of Earth’s last family. She really did look like a lady version of Chucky. It should be mentioned she made the best of a bad situation with a stand alone performance, clear vocals, solid dance moves and multi-skilled musician swapping between guitar and bass. Charlotte 'The Labia' Hatherley with her tight tights and hip length mac left nothing to the imagination (Titz and I were in the front row), hence her nick-name. Charlotte also sang beautifully and effortlessly shredded her way through all the licks on her guitar. All were miserably dressed for a Space Opera though and really took away from the theatrics. Fred, where did all that crowdfunding budget go? Clearly not towards wardrobe. 

The Lasters is a continuous 73 minute (which felt like 73 hours) soul-destroying performance involving multi-platform stage and screen adobe flash shows/powerpoint presentations rolled up in a college boy-thinly written story; all was assembled using a crew of talented musicians who were essentially glorified marionettes that had no choice on what they were playing, singing, speaking or how they were dressed as Fred essentially masturbated himself mouthing his own lyrics and dialogue throughout the performance in the background as the musicians just tried to get through it. The opera starts off like this, with the backstory. The adult population of earth is irradiated due to nuclear fallout as a direct result of using technology (we shit you not), but their children have come through alright. I guess no one's told Fred that sperm count, 1st generation radiation childbirth and the resulting defects don’t necessarily go hand in hand, but we digress. This has all come about as stated earlier due mostly in part to 'tech' which is now forbidden on Earth. It appears for some reason a family, one family, sans matriarch populates the entire planet. Inexplicably after Abby’s character leaves Earth in search for her mother in the last quarter Mars begins a vast bombing campaign on what’s left of Earth (un-populated) for seemingly no reason at all other than to destroy what’s left of the vacant husk of a planet. The main protagonist chases a hologram version of her mother across the galaxy/universe along with some uncredited alien species guiding her and giving her hope. Her father is also in tow? Even though he doesn’t board a space-ship but does get a duet with his hologram ex-wife, Fred’s singing (speaking in wavering tone deaf glorified talking) induced major cringe. Upon Abby reuniting with her now dead mother/hologram Fred chases her with a laser (we don’t even get to see the laser) for a bit, who even cares? I’m done with this trash and going along with its nonsensical journey it reads like a schizophrenic monologue. Sorry for the outburst but Titz just read the plot out to me off the Kickstarter page and it fried my fucking brains. A man and a woman leading opposing civil factions were the only people that decided to populate and live on Earth as a family. Still, one left anyway. Worst civil war ever. Comparable, by Fred, to 'War of the Worlds' and 'Quadrophenia', I wish I could eye-roll harder on paper.

We could sit here all night trashing The Lasters and in fact we have and have had a great time doing it. We've gone through a ton of snacks, a bottle of wine and half a bottle of spiced vodka smuggled back from Poland, brewed in who knows where and who knows how all while we've struggled trying to remember what The Lasters was even about or if we liked it? We both agreed in the end that we endured a meaningless performance that we could’ve done without. What sage lessons other than that did we walk away with though? We decided the best memories and lessons learned in hindsight came from before and after The Lasters. First of all, we shouldn't have rushed eating Cuban food. Secondly we should’ve had more Sangria, we also should've ordered another plate or 10 of food. We discovered a new 'space' in London that we’d consider revisiting; if we were ever to get stuck in the Waterloo area we'll know where to go to kill some time in style. We remember ripping by the Thames on my motorbike and stopping because the moon was just so full framed by the London-Eye and reminiscing about the past couple of weeks and even our day, in the end The Lasters made us appreciate anything that wasn't that horrid ‘Opera’ and everything that was us, and maybe that was the point in the end? ChikenTitz doesn’t think so. We feel that maybe we walked away breaking even but we definitely enjoyed the ride. So, watch/listen at your own peril, ride at your own risk. If we've learned something from this traumatic experience, it's probably that if you believe anything is possible, maybe it is? 

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