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20000612 Witchwood, Ashton Under Lyne

Line-up

Mark E. Smith - Vocals
Neville Wilding - Guitar
Adam Helal - Bass
Tom Head - Drums

Set-List

W.B. (3:17)
A Past Gone Mad (4:27)
Touch Sensitive (4:42)
Cyber Insekt (4:40)
The Joke (3:21)
F-'Oldin' Money (3:14)
Way Round (3:08)
Hands Up Billy (3:07)
And Therein (3:18)
White Lightning (3:08)
10 Houses of Eve>Audience baying for blood>Encore call (6:30)
More Audience baying>Ol' Gang (5:05)

Media

Audience Audio and DVD versions available
 

Review

Appears to be a very good audience recording.

Where to begin?

Well quite clearly Mr Smith and or Mr Wilding  has had a drink. This is readily apparent due to the uncharacteristic bonhomie with which Mr Smith addresses the dreadlocked chap in the audience. Reviews at the time reflect on the collapsing, fighting and general untogetherness. The DVD displays this in spades.

Band is in fine form. Helal and Head locking together well and Wilding covering for the missing Julia with a more than usual thickness to this guitar sound. When his guitar has not been unplugged, turned off or he isnt mucking about that is.

"W.B." has a loose feel and doesn't quite work, given that this is its first live performance , this is understandable. However "A past gone mad" is an unrecognisable mess and clearly cannot be delivered with this stripped down version of the band. "Touch Sensitive" and "Cyber Insekt" - with a quiet bit in the middle with gutteral prose - are both well delivered - and "The Joke" is delivered with some panache until about a minute from the end when Smith disappears, a pattern to repeat during the rest of the show.

"F-oldin' Money" shows some promise but is compromised by distressed diction and a lack of light and shade on the drums. Again Mark disappears about half way through and eventually re-appears in a slightly different time continuum, microphones rattle and some of the crowd demand that Mr Smith gets his act together.

"Way Round" is good with Smith retaining some of his composure and the band producing a good driving sound. "Hands up Billy" is an unholy mess with Wildings vocals fading in and out and the band collapsing in on itself as Mark holds the microphone. Only Head and Helal hold it together as Smith and Wilding dance around each other in an effort to mark thier territory on the stage.

"And Therein" suffers from a degree of slurring in the vocal department and Helal is pushing it as a two-beat sound which tends to detract. Wilding plays a few duff notes and Head adds some extra beats where they are not expected.

"White Lightning" has similar moments of distress but all in all just about works. "Ten Houses" is an altogether surreal experience. Smith does some high pitched stuff at the beginning but then Wilding takes over on completely over the top vocals as Mark hands the microphone to him and wanders off. "If only Mark would come on stage ....." replaces "shards will relocate" as Wilding exhorts the audience to call Mark to come on stage as he doesn't want to "do poetry" - not unexpectedly he fails to attract his leader back to the microphone. Excellent bass from Helal on this by the way but it judders to a halt in the absence of the leader.

After what loosely might be called an encore break the band returns with a workmanlike version of "Ol Gang" which seems, on this evening at any rate. to initially concern tramps from Islington. Smith seems back to normal and the rhythm is good.

And so it ends - a peculiar gig notable for the first performance of "W.B." and the onstage antics of the Bard of Prestwich and his errant guitarist.

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