The invisible ghost of Jim Morrison puts his head round the side of the main entrance to the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge and shouts "Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin..." Inside chief sonic chef Pete Kember has got the onions and garlic on and is enticing a few simple repetitive circular phrases on the guitar, the Velvet Underground’s essential ‘Ten easy dishes for under $5’ propped up on a stand in front of him.

Pete aka Sonic Boom has the look of a man of either about twelve years old or a thousand. Throughout tonight’s performance his eyes are cast down at his table of instruments leaving his eyelids seemingly closed and resembling on old Greek statue. Behind the stone(d) cold exterior, however, there’s plenty going on as he sews together the guitars and keyboards into a rich woven fabric of sound. It’s all about the layers. Eno’s randomly colliding ‘Discreet Music’ seems to pop its head up at various moments as motifs with their own separate destinies merge with other ones on similar orbits. Like the sound itself, we in the audience are space bound too - eyes close and heads begin to roll back and forth. If you could mute the sound momentarily it might look like a group meditation session with Dr Boom at the front encouraging us to "let the weight fall off you.. breathe deep and feel the air fill your lungs.. now exhale.. good." It’s like we’re all participating in a giant communal face balm.

Spacemen 3 classics like ‘Let Me Down Gently’ and a cover of Suicide’s ‘Che’ roll by while behind the stage a large screen plays out a mesmerising succession of geometric interlocking images, vibrating petri dish cell formations and simple static colour to keep our eyes busy while our bodies are busy floating off into space. If you ever need to explain to an alien how rock concerts have replaced the traditional church service in some parts of our secular land then a Sonic Boom gig would do the job quite nicely.

At the end Pete and his guitar playing cohort (speciality - Ebow sauce) return for an encore complete with throbbing New Orderesque drum beat. As the song closes and Pete is carefully removing the ingredients one by one from the sonic stew he tilts his head back and at last I think we’re going to see his eyes but no...they’re still firmly closed. There might be an inkling of a smile though.

Later as Jim Morrison is packing the gear away on stage the DJ puts on Frankie Valli’s ‘The Night’ and a man even older than me in a red anorak dances unashamedly round the near empty dance floor.

Sometimes you just want to eat music.








Related Links:

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Commenting On: Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, 8/7/2016 - Sonic Boom








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