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Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014

  by Dave Goodwin

published: 8 / 12 / 2014

Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014


Dave Goodwin at the Musician in Leicester watches Peru Ubu play a confrontational yet brilliant double set of experimental rock

Although I am from Nottingham, I have to admit that Leicester has a good music scene and not only that but some great venues. The Musician is a decent-sized music venue hidden down the back streets on the North East side of the city centre, and which is not that far from another good haunt, The Shed. I have popped through tonight to see Pere Ubu. Pere Ubu are an experimental rock music group, formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975. Since first forming, they have had a host of long-term band members but singer David Thomas has been the one consistent. They have never been widely popular, never done major arena tours and they are popularly categorized as "underground rock", but have a large and devoted following and are an influential and critically acclaimed band. Incidentally, the name comes from Père Ubu meaning "Father Ubu", who was the protagonist of ‘Ubu Roi’, a play by French writer Alfred Jarry. I knew I was in for, let’s say, an “interesting” night as soon as I got to the venue. A rather weary- looking Geordie chap approached me and asked for my ticket, and when I informed him I had a photopass he laughed and chortled, '”That works. How will I notice you if you come outside again? Ah you have a large photo bag!” to which I replied, “And my shirt has my name on it!” With this, he cried, “Good man!”, and off he went. There was no support this time as Pere Ubu were playing two sets. As David Thomas said, after he made a laborious entrance and found his chair and a bottle of red wine, the first set was going to feature “some different stuff” and the second set was going to be “a bit more normal.” With that, he instructed his band to get started and they did. I knew instantly that I was going to have a job describing or generalising the style here, and I found out that Pere Ubu had coined the term ‘avant-garage’ to reflect interest in both experimental avant-garde music and raw, direct blues-influenced garage rock, which seems a good way of describing it. The whole show was fascinating, to tell the truth. The first set edged toward experimental, slower-sounding tunes while during the second things warmed up. Robert Wheeler, who plays the Theremin, was brilliant. He worked it expertly and at times he made it look like a ballet. The other members, it became very clear very quickly, were also very adept, despite being constantly being heckled from the grumpy Thomas. He was actually very forceful but got the right result he was after every time, at one point chastising the band for a late start by sarcastically saying “I'm ready when you're ready...and you're ready now!” to the delight and loud laughter of the crowd. Half the time Thomas nestled back into his chair cuddling his bottle and I swear he fell asleep at one point, and the other half he constantly buthumorously berated his band. Finally he announced that they had reached the part he loved the most - the end. Again the adoring crowd laughed along with him as he hobbled away and the band filtered off one by one. A good night and another notch for me on the musical headboard of live gigs. I see why they have generated such a devoted following and such longevity. Their music is timeless and of a kind. If you are of that kind, you will love Pere Ubu. And many do. Photos by Dave Goodwin www.davegoodwinimages.com

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Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014

Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014

Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014

Pere Ubu - Musician, Leicester, 12/11/2014

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