With a name taken from one of WB Yeats' more mystical poems ('The Song of Wandering Aengus') and roots deep in the late sixties psychedelic scene, this band has always been intriguing. Silver Apples also defies the definition of a band. Pioneers of electronic music from 1967 until 1969, surviving member Simeon Coxe III is known for developing a primitive synthesiser known as ‘The Simeon’, based on a 1940's vintage audio oscillator. Credited with influencing electronic music for nearly half a century, the image of branches bearing fruit comes to mind. He still plays the Simeon. Drummer Danny Taylor sadly passed away in 2005, but I believe he is the ghost in the machine, his drumming patterns still played in live performances. I do hope this is true and not a myth.

The band reformed in the late nineties, in response to interest in a bootleg release at the time. Simeon took to the road with a band after requests from others to cover Silver Apples material. It’s a fascinating story. He has been back on the road regularly since 2007, playing festivals and events that celebrate and support electronic and psychedelic music, and his visit to Sheffield last month was as part of his most recent tour, coinciding with the release of a new album, ‘Clinging to a Dream’. I have to point out that he was born in 1938.

Picture House Social is one of the great small and independent venues that support Sheffield’s current music scene. It’s not a city centre venue and it hides under the proud but unrestored Abbeydale Picture House, a landmark in this area of Sheffield. On a rainy midweek night it was wonderful to see the venue fill to near capacity for Silver Apples.

The interest could have been due to Simeon Coxe’s appearance on the cover of the September issue of 'The Wire'. It probably has as much to do with the legacy of electronic music in Sheffield, especially in the eighties.

Certainly all ages were represented. The staging was simple to the point of minimalist, Simeon, smiling under a black cowboy hat, at his keyboard and oscillator. He sings too, and the lyrics are meaningful and poetic.

Sometimes it sounds like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, then there’s more than a dash of Spirit’s 'Future Games'. Then you are transported to the Hacienda via early Joy Division. Take a trip. It’s cosmic. His music still sounds ahead of its time, some of it recent, some from way back then. The understated mood of his performance made it all the more powerful, and the audience listened with attention, something I rarely see at gigs nowadays. It would have been sublime with floor cushions, joss sticks and a bubbly oily light show. It was over all too soon. Hoping there’s a next time.

Photographs by Dan Arves

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