It’s a sad fact that, sometimes, genius goes unrecognised. Take My Computer for instance – rather unceremoniously shoved into the smaller room of the Leadmill tonight, there’s only a handful of people present to watch one of the most inventive and ambitious bands around today.
For, make no mistake, genius is not too strong a word to describe Andrew Chester and David Luke’s musical outfit. Anyone who’s heard this year’s No CV has immediately propelled it into their Top 10 Albums Of The Year – the only problem being that it’s remained very much a cult item, as tonight’s showing at the Leadmill confirms.
The concept of My Computer playing live is an intriguing one – No CV, and to a lesser extent, their previous Vulnerabilia album, were both startling examples of how studio trickery can sit side by side with classic songwriting and it was tough to see how such an eclectic sound could be justified live.
However, Chester and Luke have augmented their sound with a rhythm section (identified after some hunting around on the band’s website as just “Bo” on drums and “Stubbsy” on bass), which does wonders for the band’s sound. If there was any fear that the beauty and intricacy of No CV would be reduced to keyboard noodling, this was quickly dispelled.
Opening with a blistering version of current single Lonely, one was struck by how much noise could be produced without any guitar being played (it was only during the extended piano coda that Chester even picked up a guitar). With Bo thrashing around on drums and Stubbsy taking care of the rock star poses, David Luke sat unobtrusively at the back on keyboards. All eyes were on the diminutive Andrew Chester though – dressed in a dark suit complete with leather elbow patches, he looked a bit like a trendy geography teacher.
Until he started singing that is – it’s a fair bet that any teacher would be dragged away from school who started screaming “I’m so lonely, fuck you all”. You’d expect a man diagnosed with depression who’s been through record company battles and relationship break-ups to be an intense figure, but he seemed the picture of happiness tonight – flashing an infectious grin and punching the air with his fist after each song, he’s obviously a man justifiably proud of his band’s music.
As you’d expect, the music swung wildly from one genre to another, while always retaining that unique feel. From the dance/electronica of Digging A Hole, to the sad country influences of Over You, each song managed to remain both challenging and listenable. It was the more ambitious songs that stuck in the memory though – the astonishing The Boy I Used To Be, featuring an absolutely thrilling mid-section, was jaw-droppingly good – “what the fuck was that about eh?” mused Chester afterwards, “how do you describe that?”. How indeed.
Finishing with another ridiculously ambitious epic in the ten minute long Pulling Myself Together (which features so many tempo changes and chord switches it makes Radiohead‘s Paranoid Android sound like a nursery rhyme), this was an exhilarating hour which showed that although My Computer may not have grabbed public attention just yet, for those in the know they’re a deliciously enjoyable secret.