DAMO SUZUKI | LIVE REVIEW
The Moon, Cardiff, Tue 6 Nov
There’s a certain surreal novelty to seeing Damo Suzuki, once the vocalist of Can, one of the most important and influential bands of 20th century music, turning up in the Moon in Cardiff. Here is a guy who played a key part in albums like Tago Mago and endlessly sampled tracks like Vitamin C, who seemed to slot perfectly into the groove created by Jaki Liebezeit, Holger Czukay, Michael Karoli and Irmin Schmidt, turning up in a low-ceilinged, grimy 100-capacity venue that’s probably not too far off from the type of place Can started. And I think Suzuki wouldn’t have it any other way.
His live gigs are not done with a touring band per se; rather, in every city he finds a local band that is on his wavelength as a musician, then jams a completely improvised set with them onstage for an hour. In this instance, it was the privilege of members of Quodega and Smudges, the latter of whom also played a support set. It was a fine opener; Smudges mix noisy rawness with elements of sunnier pop songwriting that results in a cool summer’s vibe at odds with the dour rain outside.
Suzuki’s set itself was superb. On this night, it took the form of one seemingly endless jam, with no clear shift at any point, though every 10 minutes or so one would notice that the music had completely changed. The sound that Quodega and Smudges had settled on was very post-rock, with quiet sections gradually building way to loud cacophony before gradually falling away or reconstituting itself into another section. The chemistry between them, with Suzuki’s anything-goes vocals over the top, was palpable and impressive – only once, about 45 minutes in, did it look like ideas had started to run out, but the energy was quickly refound. Suzuki’s presence at the front, like a mad old grandpa, was engaging, even if he had his eyes shut for most of the gig – focused on the music, and finding gaps to fill and notes to elaborate on. Excellent stuff.
words FEDOR TOT