LOOP + Iroha, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham 09/04/14

Iroha with their close links to Jesu, Cable Regime and Godflesh are an ideal band to open for the return of late 80’s / early 90’s drone masters LOOP. The last time I saw LOOP they were supported by Godflesh at The Irish Centre (Digbeth, Birmingham) way back in February 1990, that gig came hard on the heels of LOOP playing The Irish Centre in December 1989. Both gigs, sweaty-noise-chaos of the highest order.

Iroha, a three piece from Birmingham, play slow controlled structured songs that fragment into shards of patterned beauty. They bring to mind Slint, Jesu and at times music that is at the better end of the Jesus & Mary Chain’s output.
Watercolours paints a stark picture. Soft yet threatening to boil into chaos at almost any given moment. End Of An Era is welcomingly drawn out. Hazy, powerful and mysterious. Samples and drum machine fill the sound and Iroha deliver a very big sound. Catch them live if you can.

LOOP were in many ways an iconic alternative hypnotic psychedelic band that imploded at the time they could have become huge. The reformation is clearly welcome as the Hare & Hounds is rammed.
The set is launched with 1987’s Soundhead. Quickly it becomes apparent, hair length aside, that nothing has changed. The Nail Will Burn (Burn Out) follows and heads start to nod. Vapour continues the welcome revisit to A Guilded Eternity. Fade Out gets yet more heads nodding. The temperature is hot. The sound is IMMENSE and it’s the perfect time to air Collision arguably the bands best-known song. The flashback to 1990 is so welcome. Faces from gigs of yesteryear populate the room. You weren’t there/ here? Shame on you.

Fever Knife rumbles deep and loud before LOOP remind everyone of their sheer aural power with Arc-Lite (Sonar). What a sound. Dar nar nar nar nar nar nar dut. Ears may bleed as mouth corners turn upwards. Heaves of the crowd move their necks back and forth like the senile. Hypnotic bliss.
Forever from Heaven’s End is up next. There’s no new material and frankly LOOP don’t need new material with ‘old’ material as powerful as this.
Afterglow then Burning World fade the Live set out before rousing encores Pulse and Mother Sky (Can cover).
In the late 80’s LOOP were practically alone with Spacemen 3 delivering psychedelia of this level of purity. Now they are back they are alone, and it’s a joyous sound that will make your ears throb and rattle your bones. If they tour again do catch them Live. A flashback to fawn over. Where’s that ear medicine?
Photographs by Jonathan Morgan.