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- Posted on Oct 8th 2011 8:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Peter Pakvis, Redferns
Performing Friday (Oct. 7) at the Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Mekons were at full strength: eight pieces, including accordion, violin, two guitars and electric saz, a long-neck lute played by bearded eccentric Lu Edmonds. The Leeds-born band is midway through a short U.S. tour, its first as an octet in some time.
"It will be as rubbish as always, but there will be more of us," singer Sally Timms said early on, dropping the first banter bomb in what would be a heavy campaign. She and founding frontman John Langford spent the night chatting about everything from the Occupy Wall Street protests to their favorite bathroom graffiti, and the frequent jokes and asides proved nearly as entertaining as the group's walloping folk-punk ragers.
The Mekons opened with 'Space in Your Face,' their latest record's most raucous tune. Live, the 'Ancient & Modern' material is sturdier and and more driving than it is on the album, and in a set that included many old favorites, Langford seemed especially keen on kicking new jams. The cabaret-style standout 'Geeshie' was a breezy delight, even as Timms sang of "the splendor and the crimes" of early-20th century England, foreshadowing some hellish event -- World War I, perhaps -- with a vow to drink her red wine "while there's still time."
Timms remained mindful of time toward the end of the evening, as she tried to curtail Langdon's pre-encore chatter and help fans -- "who have lives," she insisted -- get home at a reasonable hour.
"I'm sorry some of you have lives more important than this beautiful communion of humanity you're witnessing," Langford quipped.
Having already done one round of tequila shots and ordered another from the bar, the Mekons were feeling sufficiently loose for a visit to 'Memphis, Egypt,' the night's finale.
"I'm born inside the belly of rock 'n' roll," Langford sang, bashing on his Strat, reveling in the raw power of that which cannot be expressed in words, however clever they may be.