BREVIEW: Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17

Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review




Words by Anna Whittaker / Pics by  Denise Wilson

Hailing from Tokyo, Kikagaku Moyo present what they call ‘feeling good music’ and the rest of us call psychedelic rock. Regulars across Europe and at festivals like Green Man, they make me feel like I should be in a field stoked up at least on sparkling wine under a hot sun. But tonight we are upstairs in the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, a well-known Brummie institution and purveyor of live music.

Earthling Society, the guest band on first, are from somewhat closer to home in Fleetwood and also present psychedelic rock – kicking off with a nice blast of dry ice for that grungy atmosphere. I thought we’d be the eldest here but not so; a real mix are in the room tonightEarthling Society - supporting Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review, perhaps reflecting the vintage of the bands.

‘Freedom’ is Earthling Society’s first track, with impressive bass played by someone who is clearly related to Steven Tyler. Or at least his face. But if this is psychedelic rock then I like it; a decent beat, blisteringly loud to the point of vibrating through my seat.

Displaying an impressive range of guitar skills, although rather lacking on the lyrics, this was made up for in the next track which sounds like a cross between Pearl Jam and Tame Impala with the bass turned up. This sort of music goes perfectly with my pint of Guinness and thank goodness the Hare & Hounds is somewhere with a bar in the same room as the gig; nothing Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewworse than having to go back downstairs and leave the atmosphere and your seat. Although tonight’s young to middle aged (mainly male) audience are doing a great job of standing (no dancing yet) so maybe wouldn’t nick it anyway.

“This sounds a bit like War of the Worlds,” says NM (newish man) and I agree. Earthling Society finish with ‘Kosmik Suite’ (a clear crowd favourite) which starts with the unmistakable sound of being beamed up, then turns into a hard rock instrumental symphony with a Pink Floyd-esque bridge. If you like your heavy rock more instrumental and zen-like spaced out, less angry screaming, then you will like Earthling Society.

Kikagaku Moyo, tonight’s headline act, have been playing since 2012 and recording since 2013, so are relatively new by comparison to their support act. It’s the break before they come on, and I’m intrigued as there is a sitar player (an Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewelectric sitar, no less) bringing an unusual vibe. But after the initial intro, which sounds like a guitar-fuelled rain stick, I get it, ‘feeling good music’ definitely. The Beatles could’ve fallen off a roof to this; it makes me want to sit in a field and plait daisies into my hair, or possibly theirs.

The second track, ‘Kodama’, has real energy to it and inspires a bunch of iPhone recordings, but most people finally forget their phones and are bobbing up and down as an audience should.

I really like this, then the next track, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’, has such a great rhythm I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t like it. It’s not generic crowd-pleaser either, but Kikagaku Moyo switch up the rhythm and timing in each track building up a real buzz in the room. It’s easy to see how this band are playing practically every night in August across Europe; Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewthey’re getting into it as much as the crowd, so let the head-banging commence.

Kikagaku Moyo then switch over to acoustic guitar, which is more chilled and felt like being in a Japanese tea house (which I have experienced, albeit in Vancouver) but perhaps it was the tune or the sitar echoing the acoustic melody.Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review

One criticism of tonight’s set is in the switch over between tracks, which is a little awkward. But once Kikagaku Moyo get going no they make up for it with really slick switches of tempo within the songs. A new track for the tour, ‘Samui’, goes down well and even gets a brief rash of crowd surfing.

Daoud Popal on lead guitar does a stunning job, building up to a wall of sound but by that time you’re floating off with the rhythm. Kikagaku Moyo are gentle enough to mellow out to, loud enough to keep you awake, and accomplished enough to make you want to hear more.

For more on Kikagaku Moyo, visit

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BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17

BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review




Words by Ed King / Pics by Denise Wilson

On Wednesday 28th June, Miranda Lee Richards played at the Ort Café in Balsall Heath – with support from My Autumn Empire and Ryan Sparrow.

Traversing the Atlantic to tour our tiny isle, Richards is on the UK road promoting Existential Beast – the fourth LP in her portfolio and the second released via Invisible Hands Music, the UK based home of Tangerine Dream, Hugh Cornwell and now Miranda Lee.

BREVIEW: Ryan Sparrow – supporting Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham ReviewOrt is a good home too, one of our favourites. Just big enough to feel the safety of numbers; just small enough for an estate agent’s ‘…intimate’ up sell. Plus you’ll probably run into the band or artist that you’ve gone there to see, which whilst being an absurd obligation-by-proxy for the performer is useful when dragging a crowd off the sofa and into the suburbs.

I arrive at Ort in time to catch Ryan Sparrow “…just get on with it”, a local singer/songwriter and the first support act tonight. Lap guitar with slap tap percussion, confident, controlled; I only catch one song (indeed, the last) but pencil his name on ‘the list’. Watch out Mr Sparrow, we’re coming for you…BREVIEW: My Autumn Empire – supporting Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review

My Autumn Empire is the night’s second support act – the solo persona of ‘dream-pop experimentalists epic45’, or Ben as he’s called for short. Benjamin Thomas Holton is probably the safest/sanest middle ground, but my mind will now forever think of him as the bastard child of Neil Young and Message to Bears; sonorous vocals and jangly guitars, loops and peddles a plenty. Now what would our estate agent say… ‘atmospheric’.

“I’ll be playing from my last two records…” introduces Miranda Lee Richards, taking her place in front of the Ort crowd with seasoned confidence; intimate is not always a plus point, especially when there’s four of you in a corner.

BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham ReviewOpening with ‘Toyko’s Dancing’ – a melodic message of hope or dystopia (I could never quite work out which) from her 2016 LP, Echoes of the DreamtimeRichards’ voice lifts itself beautifully across the room. Her two guitar backing band (which makes three including her own) build a solid wall of Americana with country undertones, whist Sammy Smith picks up some equally beautiful harmonies. One track in; all is well.

‘On the Outside of Heaven’ picks up the pace next, with a lower range and tougher guitar punching out one of my favourite tracks from Richards’ more recent album. Then we’re BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewstraight into the “modern psychedelic trip” of ‘Lucid I Did Dream’ – another strong album track from Existential Beast, with a pretty superlative solo guitar from Randy Billings. Then back to Echoes… for ‘Colours So Fine’, more mellifluous vocals, guitar solos and melodies that boarder the addictive.

The most beautiful thing at play tonight is proficiency; Miranda Lee Richards and her band have absolute control over what their sound is, what it’s going to become and what they need to do to deliver it – even knowing “how many guitarist does it take to tune a twelve string?” (the correct answer beginning with, are we in Portugal?)

And Richards’ last two albums, released within eighteen months of each other, have shown a rounded development – two confident strides from a musician who you felt never wanted to run the majors’ race in the first place. Lyrically we’re heading more towards poetry than prose, which you could argue either way, but the overall feels immensely believable. An intelligent songwriter.

BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham ReviewHowever tonight’s set feels a touch like it’s suffering, which could be from the rigors road but could also be a tired dedication to a pitch perfect performance. There is a request to the sound desk in between each song, with an air of irritation at things most stages will have to contest with. Ha, what a criticism – stop being so good you meticulous creative. But as an audience member in a small room I want to be brought in, not just allowed.

BREVIEW: Miranda Lee Richards @ Ort Café 28.06.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham ReviewThe rest of the set moves from the country confessions of ‘Blood on My Hands’, through the “medieval folk… a template for a story” of ‘Oh Raven’, to the title and neighbor album tracks of Existential Beast – aspects of ‘Autumn Sun’ reminding me so much of ‘Thirteen’ I’ve been singing the Elliot Smith song all week. Well the second verse anyway.

Our encore begins with ‘Ashes and Seeds’ – the confident opening track to Existential Beast, and closes with a track I couldn’t cite retrospectively. Although I wish it had been ‘Golden Gate’.

But the walls warm up, the room stretches out, and after being reminded to “stay for a drink afterwards” half the room falls into the relaxed punch drunk camaraderie of a successful Christmas, albeit one spent at someone else’s house. Not a bad outcome for a 10,000 mile round trip; now’s where’s the corkscrew in this kitchen…

‘Lucid I Would Dream’ – Miranda Lee Richards

For more on Miranda Lee Richards, visit

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BREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17

BREVIEW: Goat Girl – supporting The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review




Words by Steve Crawford / Pics by Denise Wilson

Tonight’s support, Goat Girl, are a four piece South London band from an emerging DIY indie scene. Signed to Rough Trade last year, they’ve been getting great reviews whenever they play live. Songs that build slowly with quiet-loud sections, repeating guitar riffs with a twang played against a tribal, Cramps like drum beat. Spleen is vented in songs like ‘Creep’ and ‘Country Sleaze’ – delivered in nonchalant, laid back vocals from singer/guitarist Lottie. An album is due out later this year which possibly means Goat Girl will return to Birmingham at some point as a headline act?

After a comprehensive sound check from a roadie searching for the troublesome “mix 6” which has disappeared from the monitors, The Moonlandingz finally take to the stage. What we’re all wondering is what exactly will Valhalla Dale’s most infamous resident, Johnny Rocket (aka Lias Saoudi), be wearing this season? The wait is over as – heeeeeere’s Johnny – in (it has to be said disappointingly) normal brown shoes and trousers.

BREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham ReviewBut it’s the topper-most half of the outfit that gets the fashionistas from Vogue scrambling for their notepads: cling film wrapped around a naked torso, worn coquettishly and daringly below the nipples, holding within pictures of a beaming Kriss Akabusi and two chocolate digestives. It takes some doing to make an entrance at the Hare and Hounds, lack of access to the stage via wings means performers have the indignity of wading through the throng from the back of the venue, but Johnny/Lias pulls it off with aplomb.

‘Vessels’, the first track off the debut album Interplanetary Class Classics, is the set opener and what’s immediately apparent is that The Moonlandingz like to crank it up when playing live. It’s LOUD. Somewhere in-between Saturn 5 rocket launch loud and Motorhead loud; the bass pummels and re-jigs internal organs and the fluid in the cranium starts to swirl and eddy. Looks like “mix 6” found its way BREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Reviewback with a vengeance. Volume does mean a lot of the subtleties of the album are drowned out tonight, but then the recorded LP will always exist for such things. The band keeps up the pace with a “greatest hits” section as ‘Black Hanz’ and ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ get belted out; pools of the audience bounce and semi-pogo along in the sold out, sweaty Hare and Hounds.

A lot is made of Lias Saoudi as a front-man, and rightly so. Adrian Flanagan considered him to be the best in Europe. Tonight as alter-ego Johnny Rocket he gives it his all in a delightful sleazy, louche and salacious performance, with a whiff of danger that never really becomes more than a threat – although at one point a mike stand is dropped into the crowd, nearly clattering into the photographers below. Refreshed by cans of draught Guinness which aren’t even poured into a glass, let alone left to settle (the man’s an animal) he doesn’t let up and keeps his foot on the pedal throughout.

BREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham ReviewBut this isn’t just the Johnny Rocket show. Rebecca Taylor, glorious in fake fur coat, is more than a match for Johnny/Lias in the band-fronting stakes; it is very much duel effort fronting The Moonlandingz. The foil and counter-foil between Taylor and Johnny/Lias is nicely highlighted during the latest single, ‘The Strangle of Anna’, which sees them as a latter day Serge Gainsborough and Jane Birkin.

Joining in the carinivalesque on stage there’s some fine swagger and posturing from bass player Manfredo, whereas guitarist Mairead O’Conner is the epitome of serene tranquility. The calm at the eye of the storm she is totally unfazed by her wayward bandmates antics and holds a sure and steady course. Watching over it all from behind his keyboard is the band’s avuncular leader, Adrian Flanagan, in a gone-fishing hat and shades. The only member who really engages the crowd between songs (although I can’t make out what he says) Flanagan looks both amused and delighted at times with his creation, diving beneath a towel at one point to reappear moments later, BREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Reviewpossibly to confirm that this fictional band are indeed punching holes in reality tonight.

All tracks from Interplanetary Class Classics are played plus ‘Drop It Fauntleroy’ from the Black Hanz EP, but the band finish up with ‘Man In My Lyfe’ from The Eccentronic Research Council’s Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan album – which is where all this began, giving birth to the fictional Johnny Rocket and his band The Moonlandingz.

As the final track fades Adrian Flanagan announces “That’s yer lot”. And so it is. No encore. The spectacle that is The Moonlandingz exit stage front, back through the cheering throng once again.


For more on The Moonlandingz, visit

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BPREVIEW: The Moonlandingz @ Hare & Hounds 28.03.17

Words by Steve Crawford

On Tuesday 28th March, The Moonlandingz come to the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on the first date of their UK tour, with support from Goat Girl.

Doors open at 7.30pm. But at the time of writing, this gig has been SOLD OUT with your only chance being the This Is Tmrw waiting list only. For direct gig info, including venue and waiting list details, click here.

It didn’t end well for Johnny Rocket of The Moonlandingz. Stalked by an obsessive fan since seeing him (resplendent in blue jumper and tin foil socks) and ‘his band’ play their ‘cosmic synth, Krautabilly, fuzzy Joe Meek style pop’ at the Valhalladale Working Men’s Club.

Pushed to the edge by his constant rejections and the celebratory mood in Valehalladale following Margaret Thatcher’s death (the stalker has reason to believe she is Mrs Thatcher’s love child), she eventually catches up with Johnny, stoves the side of his head in with a rock and watches as he falls backwards into a river and sinks to the bottom, until the air bubbles stop. So ends Johnny Rocket and The Moonlandingz.

Or at least the fictional versions as created by the Eccentronic Research Council (ERC) for their album – Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Machine Music… I’m your Biggest Fan. This 2015 release saw the ERC collaborate again with the magnificent Maxine Peake – taking on the role of ‘the stalker’, alongside Fat White Family’s Saul Adamczewski and Lias Saoudi.

Over the course of 2015-16, The Moonlandingz started to make the move from fictional to semi-fictional. Johnny Rocket was resurrected by Lias Saoudi, a junkie Major Tom figure who fell to Earth as a dishevelled glam rocker in silver cod-piece with make-up gone awry (See The Moonlandingz‘ ‘Black Hanz’ video below).

Initially conceived as a recording project only, it was after a session for 6 Music’s Marc Riley that The Moonlandingz’ potential as a live act took hold. In 2016 the band played a handful of gigs and festivals including South by South West and the Liverpool PsychFest

Skip ahead to 2017 and a fleshed out Moonlandingz release their debut album – Interplanetary Class Classics, through Transgressive Records on March 24th. Recorded in Sheffield and New York, the album sees yet more collaborations including Sean Lennon (who after re-mixing ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’co-produced the album) Yoko Ono, Randy Jones (the cowboy from The Village People), Phil Oakey and Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor.

Already a band that are causing rips in the cosmos as a live act, a now infamous naked/dirty protest at their outset meant The Moonlandingz have gained a bit of a reputation, with subsequent gigs having been ‘riotus…feral’. Hang onto your cod-pieces Birmingham.

‘Black Handz’ – The Moonlandingz

The Moonlandingz perform at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Tuesday 28th March, with support from Goat Girl – as presented by This Is Tmrw. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.


For more on The Moonlandingz, visit

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BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17

BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Review






Words by Steve Crawford / Pics by Denise Wilson

Fuelled by a pre-gig curry, Dutch Uncles take to the stage at the Hare and Hounds to the opening bars of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s version of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’.

It’s good to see that all the band members got the memo regarding dress code. Not strictly a band uniform as such, but the grey-ish monotone garb, along with more or less matching haircuts, give them a gratifying Gang of Four/Winston Smith dystopian-future citizen look.

As the rest of the band take their places, guitarist Pete Broadhead picks up the ELP riff on his black Stratocaster prompting front-man Duncan Wallis to christen him “Prog Pete”.  The entrance music fades and Dutch Uncles launch into tonight’s gig with a “two-for-one” set opener: ‘Baskin’ and ‘Some Plane Dream’ – both from their new album, Big Balloon.

BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham ReviewAnd so begins… Dutch Uncles’ fifth appearance at the Hare and Hounds, on the fifth date of the tour, promoting their fifth album. Tonight the four founding members are joined by touring guitarist Neil Wright and Prog Pete’s brother, Henry Broadhead, on Casio synth – or the “glorified calculator” as it is referred to. “50 quid off EBay, honestly the sounds he can get out of it – the man’s a genius,” Wallis tells the crowd.

Next up is the pumping rhythmic ‘Cadenza’, from the album of the same name, which gets heads nodding and bopping in the audience. It’s a good turnout for a Monday night; the large room in the Hare and Hounds is near to full.

Dutch Uncles are on top form, much more powerful and energetic than they are on record and obviously BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Reviewaccomplished musicians. A variety of sounds are summoned that reference their influences: Eighties style synths stutter, chirrup, drone and loop; guitars are urgent and spiky. It’s all propelled along by Robin Richards’ thunkingly tight bass and Andy Proudfoot’s precise drumming, holding those pesky “atypical” time-signatures in check.

Seven tracks from Big Balloon are played tonight; ‘Sink’, the slower ‘Comb Box’ and ‘Achameleon’ are omitted, the latter for reasons of difficulty in learning to play live or so Wallis informs us (I suspect with an element of tongue in cheek).  ‘Achameleon’ is replaced by the Japan-esque ‘Tidal Weight’ from 2015’s O Shudder; Wallis’s vocals conjuring David Sylvian.

Distinctive voice. Distinctive stage moves. Duncan Wallis is a natural front-man. He’s captivating to watch as he uses the medium of dance to interpret the songs, moving like a body-popping Kung-Fu Ian Curtis with a dash of Jarvis Cocker thrown in.BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Review

As well as vocal and dancing duties, Wallis also has piano and marimba duties to execute, all of which he seems to do at the same time. This is impressively demonstrated during ‘Threads’, from Out of Touch in the Wild, which sees Wallis not only sing and dance but along with Pete Broadhead perform an impressively fast marimba duet.

Unfortunately it does include a slight mishap as Wallis messes up what, to an untrained eye, seems a relatively straightforward piano part? “Sorry,” he says to both band and audience “but I’ve fucked up that piano part every night so far on this tour”. Although, to be fair, he’s just taken multi-tasking to a brand new level. The only other mistake tonight involves Prog Pete, who plays one extra single note on the marimba – a fact that would have gone unnoticed by most had it not been for Wallis gleefully pointing it out. Harsh.

Set closer is ‘Big Balloon’ – the title track from the new album, and it’s well received. But ‘Flexxin’, played in the encore and probably the Dutch Uncles’ most popular track, is the BREVIEW: Dutch Uncles @ Hare & Hounds 06.03.17 / Denise Wilson – Birmingham Reviewbiggest hit of the night and something of a treat for birthday boy Henry Broadhead. Having reached the dangerous age of 27 he is allowed make any sound he likes on his Casio calculator as way of an intro into it.

The final song of the main set is ‘Dressage’ – a more guitar driven number than most, it’s the Prog Rock experience in a three minute pop song.

I’ll be honest, it took me a while to come around to the Dutch Uncles on record and I was never sure how well their material would work when played live. The dictionary definition of a Dutch Uncle is: ‘someone who issues frank, harsh or severe comments & criticism to educate, encourage or admonish’.

After tonight’s performance I feel both admonished for doubting Dutch Uncles as a live act, and educated in just how vital it is to see bands playing live to fully appreciate them.


For more on Dutch Uncles, visit

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