After an interminable wait, South appeared on stage and revealed themselves to be four photogenic young chaps who seemed unable to decide on which instruments to play, as the bassist became lead singer then drummer, the drummer played keyboards and guitar and the vocalist and guitarist turned to bass. Confused? We were, but hats off to them for diversifying their musical skills.
Their debut album, From Here On In, was acclaimed as “post-baggy” in certain quarters and, it must be said, there are similarities with the music of the early ’90s Madchester scene; the likes of The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays are brought to mind with the vocal harmonies and rhythms South use.
We all know that the Scala is used as a nightclub at weekends and a live music venue at other times, so it should come as no surprise that the PA system is LOUD. But when South went off into their big bass-driven numbers, cranking up the white noise and the keyboard improvisations, not only were we all vibrating but the floor was shaking and our eardrums threatened to explode. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a louder gig than this – and even most of the young people were holding their ears. I hope the soundmen feel pleased with their jobs as people disappear with bleeding ears into the night, howling.
Anyway, when finally on came the shambolic Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, fanfared by a woman of Wales who wailed in Welsh at us, I wanted to be as far away from the Scala as possible, somewhere quiet where my ears could recover. Gorky’s were a quieter proposition, however, and despite the mulleted lead singer/keyboardist chap appearing for all the world like he regretted the existence of an audience, the meandering nature of the music was relatively soothing after what had gone before. Some tracks were instrumental, some were sung in Welsh, and not once did the mulleted one in the skanky t-shirt engage with the audience. Even when he attempted between-songs banter he was unintelligible.
But, with a motley crüe of a band consisting of a bunch of people who looked as though they’d fallen out of a very old pub, music that was first pleasant then raw, lighting which worked and sound that was quieter, Gorky’s live were worth seeing.