Tuesday, September 9
Formed in the mid-1980s, England’s Pop Will Eat Itself pushed a version of indie-rock that stole ideas from almost every genre, hip-hop beats and rave-culture anthemic swells, the energy and attitude of punk, metal riffing and the big bass sound of reggae and post-punk. Impossible to classify, you can hear the band, now as being a British version of the early Faith No More, taking ideas from Public Image, Killing Joke and the Beastie Boys and making music that indirectly created Nu-Metal. They covered a lot of ground.
This version of the band features only one original member, vocalist Graham Crabb. But if you can get over that – and it didn’t seem to bother anyone in attendance – this “Mark II” reincarnation was propelled by former Killing Joke drummer, Jason Bowld. He looked like he was solving maths problems while pushing himself through a spin class at the gym.
Tim Muddiman (Gary Numan) supplied the fierce and stinging guitar and bassist Davey Bennett (This Burning Age) added the big slabs of bass. It was a fearsome sound as vocalists Grabb and Mary Byker (Pigface, Gaye Bykers on Acid) did the jostling between the PWEI of old and several new songs from 2011’s comeback album, New Noise Designed By A Sadist and an even newer EP.
The industrial template, the subverted rave sound, post-punk attitude – it was all there. The band so loud, but crisp – those cymbals cutting through, the bass and guitar holding ground amid the swirls of samples, Crabb and Byker two determined frontmen – it wasn’t a huge crowd but you couldn’t have told this band it wasn’t playing the gig of its life.
The newer material such as Nosebleeder Turbo TV held up well alongside old favourites from Box Frenzy and This Is The Day and Cure for Sanity. It had been some 20 years since we’d seen PWEI but they charged through the set as if playing a giant stadium, as if this was the only music that ever mattered. And it seemed like that. Certainly.
This review appeared in The Dominion Post – I’ve reposted it here on Off The Tracks due to requests from people wanting to view it online