Tag Archives: Bodega

Citizen Zombie – The Pop Group return…


Last October The Pop Group played the Bodega in Nottingham. They weren’t a band I had thought a lot about for a few years but there was quite a buzz about the prospect. They had briefly played again in 2010 after a long break stretching back to the 1980’s.
When they first came to prominence in 1977/78 I didn’t really notice them – they were the intelligent arm of the punk movement, I was still at school and listening to NWOBHM bands and Queen. Later though they were one of the more admired bands at art school, along with Talking Heads, Television and other British post-punk bands like Gang of Four & Wire.

They entered more mainstream media through a t-shirt rather than for music with their ‘We are all Prostitutes’ song and Thatcher baiting design marking them out as anti-capitalist revolutionaries.

We Are All Prostitutes

Their 1977 debut album ‘Y’ and 1980 album ‘We Are Time’ went on to influence many later artists with their own multiple reference points and use of Jamaican dub production, jazz tones and urban alienation. This was their debut single.

At the Bodega gig they had Sleaford Mods as their support. Given their confrontational nature it seemed telling that the main act had a good deal of confidence in their own ability to stand up and be noticed. This from Drowned In Sound “….the addition of singles ‘She Is Beyond Good And Evil’ and ‘Where There’s A Will There’s A Way’ alongside breakthrough seven-inch ‘We Are All Prostitutes’ during the encore provides the “greatest hits” moments. If such a thing exists within The Pop Group’s canon. But then that also exemplifies why their relevance in 2014 remains unabated. Uncompromising, unnerving and brutal as ever. Long may it continue”. The majority of the gig was taken by songs from ‘We Are Time’, that track here.

The Pop Group - Nottingham Bodega

A month or so after the gig a new album was announced and promoted through PledgeMusic, a direct to fan funding stream for artists that want to maintain independence. My copy of Citizen Zombie arrived today and its a marvellous thing – in fact I’m on my third end to end listen. The same diverse list of influences are there, from twinkly almost ‘prog’ keyboard parts, chugging punk guitar, dub heavy bass and Mark Stewarts manic screams and biting political lyrics. This is music for the collapsing ConDem nation, music for Syriza & Podermos, and it arrived just in time.

This is the recent video for ‘Mad Truth’. This is an absolute treat of an album.They are touring again in March in the east & the US and May in UK. Highly recommended if you can get to see them.

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Josh T. Pearson

Wednesday 30th March

Josh T Pearson @ The Bodega, Nottingham.

The bar downstairs started to get pretty packed when the doors to the venue remained closed an hour after advertised opening. The Bodega isn’t huge and given some of the other venues on this tour we were lucky to get to see this in such an ‘intimate’ surrounding.

Eventually we were allowed upstairs and I can only suspect the place was at capacity.

First on was Richard Warren. He played a great set and whilst I hadn’t heard the name before I’ve since seen his history and it explains why he was so good. I’ll definitely look into his new stuff. Described elsewhere as ‘British Americana’, but essentially powerful, stripped back songs, well played and with good use of analog sound kit and classic instruments. He used a Fender combo on the last two songs which I doubt I’ll get close to on Amplitube but it would be worth trying.

After a quick change over next up we met ‘We Three and the Death Rattle’. A young trio comprising guitar/vox, snare (bass drum abandoned roadside) and vocals. The singer Amy also had some interesting flirtations with a mini Theremin type item. They have a definite sound and game plan and played with commitment.

‘We Three’ had travelled up from Brighton with Josh & instruments etc and it seems arrived only an hour or so before playing. Given that Josh must be nearly 7 foot tall I don’t imagine it was a Micra.

After a minimal blast of dry ice, Josh came on stage and plugged in. A commanding figure in black suit and steer horned belt, he’s far more amiable than his recent amazing album ‘Last of the Country Gentlemen’ would lead you believe. From joke asides and a bit of self-deprecation he breaks up the tension between songs both for his benefit and the audiences.

As other live reviews have mentioned he opened with ‘Rivers of Babylon’ which whilst it sounds out of kilter fits perfectly given it’s religious theme and when delivered without any irony or nod to either the Boney M or the Jimmy Cliff  versions. This opener segued seamlessly into ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’

….and then we went off into an evening of incredible songs and the most sensitive guitar playing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s true to say you could hear a pin drop whilst he played (or even the subtle shuffling of plastic glasses behind the bar). The audience was totally attentive throughout and the close of each song (generally indicated by a quick stamp or a slap on his guitar) was given exuberant applause. Most of the songs exceed 10mins and are lyrically hard work and harrowing. Even Nick Caves ‘The Boatmans Call’ has more happy moments, but it’s good to find some real music these days that has any emotional depth. Themes range from domestic violence through to infidelity, all delivered with the potential to go from a teeth grinding whisper to an anguished yell. Variously described as harrowing, epic, desolate & cathartic I would say on the whole the songs leave me lost for words. There’s definitely an uncomfortable beauty in the experience.

It would have been great to see him play with accompaniment but I guess getting Warren Ellis and his violin on stage would entail excessively high levels of beard insurance.

The set closed with an unexpected sing-along to ‘The Devil is on the run……lets have some fun’ with pretty much 100% audience participation. The man is currently a force of nature and I hope he finds a tour manager / merchandiser /driver / sound tech (who can cook) so that the tour rolls on.

He should be on Jools Holland soon so he will hopefully find a wider audience, as did Seasick Steve. Buy his album, in fact buy two and give one to a friend.

Here’s a great version of ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’ from a French TV show.

Links below to some other interesting sites. The pictures included here use all sorts of apps’ including Hipstamatic, Swanko Lab, Pic Grunger & Toon Paint. Use them if you want but credit me a link!







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