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John Foxx - live in London

Last night of the Metamatic tour, Cargo, London, Monday 8th October 2007

Cargo is part of the fingers of railway arches that reach out from Liverpool Street station, stretching northwards, crossing a little known studio not two minutes away called The Garden. Entering the venue opened up a new treasure - the collaboration between Jansen and Foxx. From what I heard, this new music was clearly born out of the performance in Brighton with Harold Budd back in 2005, where Jansen performed a solo gong piece 'Lirio'.
Jansen brings out subtle tones and textures using malllets and then changing the way he attacks the different areas of the gong (which, from memory was roughly 5ft wide). John has added Cage-like treated piano and what sounded like industrial/factory sounds: lifts descending a shaft, shutters closing (I'm not saying these are the sounds exactly, just what it sounded like). If you've heard 'Plight and Premonition' by Jansen's brother - David Sylvian alongside Holger Czukay, that's as close as I can get to a reference point.

The 'support act' was Louis and Steve. Starting with an ambient drone piece this segued into a very strange version of Bowie's "Heroes" - Louis and Steve liberating Bowie's original '77 vocal and putting a new spin on it music-wise. The whole set had the feel of a mix-tape created by Kurt Schwitters, William S. Burroughs and 'Paul's Boutique'-era Beastie Boys.
After that – the main event. I need to mention at this stage that VJ Kaborn is live mixing film footage throughout the Metamatic set - and top notch it is too. Kaborn keeps the film almost completely black and white noir footage, occasionally breaking out in 50s Kodachrome colour. It lifts the whole show: Metamatic as Tiny
Blackandwhitenoirfootageoccasionallybreakingoutin50sKodachromecolour Movies.
Anyway, back to the show and talking of films...

John kicks off with 'Film One' - I've read reviews of other gigs that say the sound is poor etc. Thankfully, Cargo has one of the best sound-systems in London - the bass, sub-bass goes right through you, the synths don't screech or shrill and the acoustics are absolutely superb. I've read also that there's an argument along the lines of 'Is it live, or is it Memorex?' about the shows; well, admittedly I didn't see a CR78 and John stopping to press Rock 1/Rock 2/Rhumba or whatever, but IT WAS LIVE! Sampled CR78 patterns synced with some really nice kick drum sounds bolstered the phut-pishhhht of the original rhythms. The lead synth sounds were distinctly Metamatic-esque but new, modern, bright and wide.

Highlights of the Metamatic set for me were a thunderous skull-snapping ‘Metal Beat’, a widescreen ‘No-One Driving’, ‘Blurred Girl’ – my favourite Foxx song of all time and a psychedelic blissed-out ‘Touch and Go’. Highlights of the encore were ‘Burning Car’ followed by ‘20th Cebtury’ – the bass on these two kept rising throughout - taking our ribcage as well as our hearts.

Review and photography by Garry Hensey