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Wytches - Signature Brew, London, 22/9/2020

  by Peter Cole

published: 22 / 9 / 2021

Wytches - Signature Brew, London, 22/9/2020

With Covid-19 case numbers rising faster than the holiday planes that used to fly people to their vacations, even the most optimistic people are now wondering whether the next barbecue they have with friends might be years away. And might be less a barbecue and more a fire lit to cook a cat they’ve hunted through the cold ruins of gridlocked lorries in what was briefly the Independent Free Zone of Kent after civilisation collapsed. But despite a second lockdown looming - for those with whom it hasn’t already arrived - there are lights in the darkness. On 22 September, some of those lights were shining from the Signature Brewery site on a Walthamstow industrial estate. Previously this estate was dubious enough that you might want to keep a tyre iron handy if you were driving through it. Now it features a shop where customers can pay £300 for a pair of jeans. But a nice industrial estate brewery tap room is what is called for these days if you need to keep random people two metres apart and provide them with the opportunity to purchase alcohol. A stage with a band on is something of a bonus. But after six months of not seeing anyone hammer a guitar or scrunch up their face and howl into a microphone, how can you judge how good a gig is? If you starved a restaurant critic for six months, making them live solely on instant ramen, could they really judge if a meal in some bleeding-edge Soho fusion kitchen was brilliant or mediocre? Maybe this isn’t really a gig review (apologies for misleading you). Maybe this is just a message of hope: live music can still happen. And when it does, if you haven’t been able to experience it for months, it will feel wonderful again. If you are going to break a long live-music fast, the The Wytches are a fine band to do it to; a thundering, psychedelically-charged, slightly throwback rock group. The evening starts with a throbbing rendition of 'Meat Chuck' from their at-the-time-unreleased third album Three Mile Ditch. This is delivered in the same head-down, volume-up, full-speed-ahead mode as the rest of the hour-long set. The Wytches have never really run much in the way of banter. The closest they come on this night in Walthamstow is a half-apologetic mid-set "We’re the Wytches, woooo!". That, and an admission before they launch into an encore that their return to stage was planned. This is accompanied by a sadly undelivered offer to play the whole set again. A rapt, seated crowd on benches is not the best audience for any rock band, but there can have been few in the audience who wouldn't have sat through the same again. At one point, as the initial guitar notes for the band's 'Weights and Ties' drift out from the stage, someone near the front muttered "I think I’m going to cry". Getting to see live music again really does feel that good. And we’ll get there again eventually, for everyone. Photo by Callie Winch originally published at www.clunkmag.com

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Wytches - Signature Brew, London, 22/9/2020

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A terrific lockdown gig by The Wytches leaves Peter Cole musing about the nature of live music, what we've lost in 2020 and what we might gain in future.


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