Melt Banana play Heaven Live in London, 28 May 2014.
Their first gig in London for several years. It was total coincidence I was listening to their new album at the weekend, and wondered when they might be gigging soon.
Turns out it would only be a few days later, so I put my money where my mouth is/was and bought a ticket.
They were excellent.
In a way, their set was in three acts. The first was a good warmer-upper. Mid-way into the ‘comfortable zone’, where everyone expects the band to coast for a number of two after the grand opening, audience members who suspected they were listening to an occasional foray into something generic and poppy (for Melt-Banana, I mean) were briskly rewarded with a PA-driven slap in the face and a drop into something even more gnarly and shouty. In fact, expecting something unexpected was a kind of nice Zen way of looking at things. Otherwise, the strobes, terrific lighting and wonderfully in-your-face sound system might have got a bit much for some people. Other people, obviously.
Most of the songs were deliberately merged into one another, punctuated by a few gulps of water for singer Yasuko Onuki, but there were a few palpable gear changes/slash breathers where she could speak to the crowd. One of which saw the band then start playing some of the ‘micro songs’ characteristic of the genre. Often less than a minute long, they were more than just good ideas nobody could be bothered to finish. A clipped ‘thank you’ followed by the next title, and proceedings recommenced with equal vigour for the next track.
Act three went back into longer, more developed numbers, with a few more from their newest album ‘Fetch’, which is definitely worth a listen. A few renegade audience members were dancing/moshing, although most folks were nodding appreciatively – all the while secretively wishing they were brave enough to let rip to what was a superbly energetic performance.
Other people, obviously.
A commendably-committed crew at the front of the stage refused to take ‘no’ for an answer and got them back on for not one, but two decent-lengthed encours, including a suitably Melt-Banana-esque rendition of ‘It’s a Wonderful World’.
At least for the time they had there, I think most of the audience would have agreed.