Spectrum, Point Ephémère, Paris, March 26th, 2010

Since time immemorial, the Super Furry Animals have ended their live sets with ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’. It is a gargantuan track, one that acts as a counterpoint to the band’s Taff-saturated Beach Boys harmonies, culminating in a pounding crescendo of techno, drones and strobes, and leaves you walking out the venue feeling disoriented, exhalted and proclaiming the Best Gig Ever.
Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom is surely a contender for Man Not Giving A Fuck status, someone who has made a 20 year musical career out of guiding his audiences hand-in-hand into similar metaphysical states. With erstwhile SFA bassist Guto Pryce joining Kember’s Spectrum for their European tour, tonight’s was an opportunity for Furry fans, to imagine what the gig after the gig might sound like. For fans of both, it was an opportunity to get a little over-excited.


Whilst Jason Pierce, his ex-Spacemen 3 bandmate has (beautifully) taken the path of concert halls, acoustic tours and film scores, and new bands to the party such as the Black Angels, Psychic Ills and the Wooden Shjips are evoking the chemically-induced drone in new, even fashionable ways, Kember, in his guise as Spectrum, still stays true to his simple poetry; drones fade in, fade out, soar and fall. Kember, tonight standing tall behind an intimidating array of pedals, keyboards and boxes that make strange beeping noises, and looking scarily untarnished by musical excess, has exactly the same rare gift as Pierce to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and stay there throughout his set.

Tonight, we get a simple set of Spectrum classics, including favourites Che, Revolution, Set Me Free, Red Krayola cover War Sucks, the first Spectrum single (one I own on a crackly clear plastic 7-inch) How You Satisfy Me, the Evie Sands synth sample replaced by a filthy guitar line. In the best possible way, it all blends into one, creeping dynamic. Never flabby, Spectrum’s sound steers just the right side of self-indulgence, perfectly orchestrated restraint. As the final drones of set-closer Suicide faded, the house lights revealed a packed Point FMR stunned into silent, obedient mess. All of us, fair game for mind control.

There was a rumour this side of the channel, propagated by me, amongst others, that this Spectrum tour was actually going to be a Spacemen 3 reunion. It turned out that this was down to a misunderstanding, and over-zealous people getting a bit over-excited. It begs the question, would a Spacemen 3 gig have been any better than what we saw tonight?


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