|Biorhythm at the Chameleon|
Filed away from the wild delirium and terrible violence of the drink infused city centre, down an alley and perched above a closed card shop, is the Chameleon club and bar. Outside the walls are already begun to be lashed with sharp and dangerous lines of paint as graffiti artist Buck 2 gets to work painting the place up right to the brick by the side of the wall, allowing a little more life to flourish, for inside tonight is the first Bio Rhythms, the new night from the wonderfully relaxed lunatics that brought us Imagination Collaboration some time ago.
Inside the Chameleon is decorated like a Christmas tree stranded in the morning after. The main room upstairs is set out like a white plastic yurt, the warmgreen smell of incense curves through the room and sinks into the loose wooden boards that rock as bodies set themselves down to a night of live music, djs, painting and free plants, and oh so much good drink and laughter to set ourselves alright. In the main gallery Mathew Vicory from Love Music Hate Racism sets up a stand and gently relaxes while a little energy is pumped in, starting with some RJD2 as people shuffle about and get ready.
Through and through there were far too many good people to mention all, so here are the musical highlights from the night. The first one to really check out was Jake Bugg. Set quietly down in the corner of the bar, this small in stature and presence musician really lets out when he plays. From his own material to a wild universal solider, there is an intensity here not seen since the folk radicalism of the 1960’s. Peering out from under dark eyes, he played, then got up and left without a word. There was an understated strength to his performance, with influences ranging from Dylan to Ochs. If we ever feel like retuning to our cities roots and burning the castle down once again, Jake Bugg needs to be leading the procession.
|Hannah Heartshape and Lance performing at Biorhythm at the Chameleon|
Shortly after a quick cigarette and some good wine, we all went upstairs to the womb-like-grotto to check out Howard Milles. Normally seen with a sax sending off some improvised jazz, tonight Howard was playing for us a little delta guitar. As the crowd thickened and we all sat down cross-legged to share warmth and laughter, the waves of sound similar to John Lee Hooker’s “Tupelo” could almost be seen to wash over and silence the room. With his eyes closed and the still slow note resonating, this was a highly intimate and unique performance from the giddy eyed feral auteur. These songs however, really needed to be set under a winesoaked bride far later in the night. Still the music offered a release from the normal rapid talk of drink, good stuff.
Later in the night, Hannah Heartshape, Nottingham’s own answer to Lady Day came up and performed, supported by Lance from 25 Past the Skank. When she played the room sank below us as everything came to the single moment broken only by the rabid applause. In Heartshape’s music there lays a fretful passion, a terrible still timelessness open only to held out hands and tearful eyes. With her mix of Harlem Jazz and local lingo (a blues song that cites Dagnam is always fine) the guitar accompaniment tonight put of her of sight.
|Hannah Heartshape (left) and Natalie Duncan (right) performing at Biorhythm at the Chameleon|
As a keyboard appeared upon the stage, the locally recognisable face of Natalie Duncan set about into a powerful tenderness as she beat the keys and walked rhythms that scream the need of a symphony to sing her voice. With an amalgamation of Old style Motown, a little Mississippi soul and some good fashioned Nottingham bite and sharp wit, she resides above the rest of the night for sheer souring grace alone. When she played the walls pulsed and heads that had previously been sunk deep into conversation rose and took note. The building may have fallen and very few people would have noticed. Her music could cripple ages. This is eclectic cabaret for the broken hearted, and in its quit and complex breathlessness, it’s beautiful and sublime. The duet between Ms Heartshape and Ms Duncan, in a rendition of “summertime”, will last as a memory in the walls of this building, for some time.
The night was finished by Tom For Idea, a four piece with a little more of a contempory sound. They sit somewhere between electronica, trip hop and modern indie, resonating of such diverse bands as the Cinematics to Mercury Rev. Their music is made to drift out to sea to. They finished their set with two great covers, the Gorillaz’s Kids with Guns and a Fantastic Gangster’s Paradise. Still finding their own way, given a little while, this could be a group with a sound a far larger than this small city.
So as we all swallowed the last of our beer and stubbed cigarettes outside, the small alley now packed with bodies, music and sound, it must be noted that this was not only a fantastic night of live music, but also, all donations when towards the J B Spray Squat, the newest attempt by Nottingham’s wide artistic population to save a great space and venue for all sorts of creative projects. I strongly recommend checking out the project at SquatLobster.org.uk and getting involved. This was, and hopefully will continue to be a night that could only exist in Nottingham’s fantastic underbelly of a weird and wonderful live scene.
Biorhythm took place at The Chameleon on Saturday 26 September 2009.
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