Joe Gideon @ Gullivers NQ 16/02/2020

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Joe Gideon (ex-Bikini Atoll) rolled into town with Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos and multi instrumentalist Gris-De-Lin, on a cold Sunday night in Manchester. Having just released his 2nd solo album to critical acclaim, the question was how well would those wonderfully dark and jaunty songs translate live? The recorded tracks evoke the spirit of Nick Cave and Morphine (the band), with Jim and Gris delivering thick brooding soundscapes, whilst Gideon's delivery lurches between Lou Reed and Johnny Cash taking on Jim Morrison and back again to Nick Cave.

Live the tracks lull you and penetrate you, almost shamistically at times, into their shared apocalyptic view of the world. The stories are rich, the time signatures throw shadows and there are dark demons waiting in them to ensnare you. Sparse keyboards, expansive percussion and shards of saxophone punctuate the songs, whilst never overpowering Joe's understated guitar work. These aren't just rock songs, they're M&S rock songs, with an operatic feel to them as the stories unfold. Expandible Mandible, a song about a man whose metal content can detect impending storms, is a powerhouse live. Scaredy Cat is delivered in an almost Phoebe Buffay (Friends) Smelly Cat way.


Comet Coming Down, a tale of impending doom contains the fantastic line, 'time to make your peace with the lord or at the very least, your in-laws'. I muse that if the world was to end right at that moment at least I'd be in good company.

There is even an outing for Eugene Went Mad, from his 2015 Versa Vice, a song about a famous American  photojournalist with mental health issues as a result of the things he'd witnessed. Rule Roost (a song about Brexit), The Gaping Yawn (think Johnny Cash American recordings) , Liquid Sky (reminiscent of Ian McCulloch - Echo & The Bunnymen) and Beritt's Cliff House bring the set nicely to the closing track, Ancient Space Mariner, an American Prayer era-Jim Morrison delivery slowly sliding to halt.

And then too soon it is over, but my original question has been answered with a resounding 'yes'.