Paradise 9 plus Judge Trev

Venue : Sawyers Venue, Kettering
Date : 25 July 2009
Date of writing this review : 15 August 2009

I had been up to Cranfield to see Chesham United (win) in a pre-season football match, so it was not much more of a journey to carry on up to Kettering to see Paradise 9, in what was effectively a warm up for their ep launch show the following Saturday.  I am mixing all my tenses here, but what more do you expect from a bit of space rock ?!  I will also mix up the order a bit and detail Judge Trev’s set before dealing with Paradise 9.  I should also mention that I met DJ Kosmik Ken, who I had not seen for over 20 years, since the days of the Iron Horse pub in Amersham – we got talking, and got talking about Porcupine Tree as he had been their tour manager, and I suddenly notice he has put on the excellent track Prodigal, from their In Absentia album – great choice.  And Neil Matthars, bassist from Paradise 9, comes over and asks me if I have been making requests.  Yes, it is a nicely relaxed atmosphere.

I had come in to the venue to an excellent cover of Hawkwind’s Uncle Sam’s On Mars, but unfortunately I did not catch who was doing it.  The venue was running one stage inside and another outside, and it was all very well run and organised.  Great sound in both locations and a good little venue – I will be keeping my eye out for more gigs there.  Paradise 9 played their set inside, and I will deal with that in a moment, and then Judge Trev played a set outside.  For those of you who do not know, Judge Trev (Trev Thoms) is a founder member with Nik Turner of Inner City Unit, and he’s on acoustic guitar here, with some synth from Chris Cambridge and clarinet from Gregg McKella, from Paradise 9.  I have no idea what the first track he plays is called, so apologies for that, but it rolls along with a hard edge, the sounds from the synth and clarinet swirling around him.  “This guitar sounds like a banjo from here”, he says.  And so he continues, “I’m going to do a folk song”, but something goes wrong with the synth and despite lots of shouts of “Cambridge” it does not get fixed, and so he ends up as a roving troubadour, moving from table to table with his guitar, Gregg following in his wake with the clarinet, and it really is a sight to behold.  He’s static again now, and into Ohio, by Neil Young, strident vocals, racing on the acoustic guitar, the clarinet flowing with him, and it is the vocals which are giving the melody as the clarinet becomes more piercing – it is a noteable version of the song.  Then a track called Me, upbeat, racing again, a great melody, and the vocals become pleading as the clarinet flows and soars.  Then the pleasure of an Inner City Unit track, and one that everyone can sing along to – Raj Neesh.  Sharp, hard guitar, forceful vocals, spacey clarinet and lots of “They wear a bucket on their heads”.  He closes with Freedom by Richie Havens, the track which Havens played to open Woodstock, and it does have more of a folk feel to the guitar, the clarinet stacatto in bursts, then the sound becoming fuller and floating, and a great ending to an interesting little set.

The reason I was here was to see Paradise 9 – I had already planned on seeing them at the ep launch, and was looking forward to a return to the Inn on the Green, but a little taster beforehand seemed like an excellent idea.  It was not quite a full lineup because Steve Teers and Jeanette Murphy were not there, but it was an opportunity to hear the new tracks now they had been recorded.  They do a quick jam to soundcheck and it is an excellent sound.  A synth sound takes us into Take It All, the drums kick off with the guitar and the bass rumbles.  The track is upbeat and rolling with Tyrone Thomas’ guitar phasing through, Gregg’s vocals becoming more fervent as the track shoots into a piercing guitar part, then it kicks off again, hard and fast with the guitars circling.  A great start.  Next up, from the 1999 album, Showtime, is Into The Ether, or as it says on the setlist, “Ethers (edited!)”, and there is a big spacey sound, Neil’s bass thumping through as Carl Sampson’s drums kick us along, and they really are an impressively solid rhythm unit.  There is a nice melodic guitar sound echoing through as the synth sounds roll across, and then Gregg’s vocals come in above it all, before he is on the clarinet and that sound flows across.  Then screeching noises, a big sound, the drums and bass keeping it controlled as a great slide guitar sound comes through.

Then the first of the ep tracks, Broken Promises, and a hard sound rolls along with the drums kicking, the guitar floating, bass and drums driving us along, then the melody echoing through as the track drifts, then echoes to a close.  Next up is Points Of View, “this is also off the ep, it’s another rant”, and it kicks off uptempo, Tyrone’s guitar cutting into the sound, rolling along as Neil comes down off the stage to play.  The drums are rolling and then bite through, and there is a punk feel to the vocals.  It grows into a big, hard sound and the guitar begins to phase through and fly, and at this point Judge Trev is up the front headbanging.  The sound rises, more melodic but with more edge too, then the synth cuts in and floods the sound, clarinet on top, the drums and bass keeping us moving along as the clarinet screeches.  The guitar is back in with a harder sound, echoing, and they have created a very big sound now as the guitar pierces into feedback, Gregg using a metal bar to play his strings, and the sound fades to an end.  “We’re going to take it down a little now. We don’t do many love songs, but we’re going to do a love song”, and it is Crystalized Moments, another track from the ep.  The melody eases off, drifting away and then soaring, before the bass hits in, adding substance, and it rolls along.  The guitar cuts through in bursts, echoing then soaring, moving along with a great sound, the guitar piercing through the rhythm and the track runs to an end.  That has been a brilliant introduction to the new ep.

Then we are back to the album with These Days, rocking off at a high tempo, and Neil is wandering off again, this time to the back of the bar area to find any stragglers, then off outside – the wonders of not having a lead.  The guitar has a big sound and is soaring now, and they have built another floating, atmospheric sound, the vocals again having that punk feel to them, and the drums drive us along to the close.  Judge trev joins them on stage on guitar for State Of The Nation and it blasts off with a mighty sound and rocks.  The drums are rolling, the bass is rumbling, there are guitars everywhere, flowing, echoing, phasing, piercing, soaring – it is a true wall of noise with a punk edge, and it crashes and screeches to a close as Judge Trev shouts “freedom !”.

It has been a great evening, and you eally should get hold of the new ep, Nothing For Tomorrow, from paradise9.net.  I saw Paradise9 again the following Saturday and that review will go up here soon.  You can see Neil and Carl as part of Casual Affair at The Peel on Saturday 29 August during the all day Mattfest event.

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