Thursday, 25 March 2010

534 MERCURY REV, Nicolai Dunger, Bristol University Anson Rooms, Wednesday 31 October 2001

What could be more fitting on Halloween night than to go off and see the world's spookiest purveyors of mood music, the creepy Catskill chappies, Mercury Rev? So off we did hop with Dave, Ady and Ceri for another night out at the Anson Rooms. Much to the girls' delight, we didn't park the car over by the cemetery, however we did have to park up about 15 minutes walk from the venue - this place is becoming a real car-mare!

Got in at 8.15, just as Nicolai Dunger was peddling his acoustic strum-along stuff onstage. Decided to go to the bar instead! Wandered back into the amply packed hall for the arrival for the Rev at 9. They wandered on at the witching hour, dressed appropriately in black, with one of the keyboard players caped up and bearing a large witches hat! Jonathan Donahue, pencil-thin and strikingly cool as ever, was nevertheless more voluble than before, a, "hello, it's great to be here tonight," a real surprise!

Opening with the slow burn of "The Funny Bird", the Rev immediately hit their groove of moody, magnificently spooky, hairs-standing-up-on-nape-of-neck music. Obviously slightly rockier and more upfront than their orchestral leanings on record, when they really hit it, as in the mesmeric "Frittering", the touching "Goddess On A Hiway" and the almost jaunty "Nite And Fog", they were stunning. However, their shimmering splendour occasionally drifted into slight discordance and very occasional self-indulgence, as in the overlong and over-complicated "Opus 40" or a messy "Delta Sun". However, the supreme encore "Chasing A Bee", with its slow burn and soaring keyboards, really won the day for me, and the magnificent "Dark Is Rising", with its clattering crescendo and touching Neil Young-esque vocals from Donahue, ensured the final memories of the evening were nothing but positive. So, the Rev; touching the face of plangent magnificence when "on it" during this set, but this 2 hour overall performance would have been so much better as just over 1!

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