Blow Up's a blast with the Boss Men, Baltics and Butler's band
Peckham's Bussey Building hosts Baltic Fleet, Trans and Big Boss Man in Blow Up's 20th anniversary shindig.
Appropriately named after
Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 cinematic masterpiece, Blow Up has always been an explosive clash of stylistic influences. From sixties ska, Hammond jazz and glam through to the Britpop scene it helped spawn, these taste masters have for 20 years spun the cream of cool for chic dandies, mods and bell-bottomed revellers .
What the Peckham branch of the Bass Weejun legion make of Baltic Fleet is not clear – a few bops here and there from Weller & Son – but the openers’ synth groove doesn’t entirely fit the mood. Not that they’re bad, far from it. Coming on to the Silver Apples’
Lovefingers, the band builds on that progressive watt pop mood with their finely-crafted krautrock instrumentals. Peering over his multi-stack of keyboards, sometime Bunnyman Paul Fleming trades in tense padded soundscapes while his band channel the spirit of Neu! into, well, something new.
Trans too share those same German influences, though the Blow Up faithful at least have an authentic Britpop hero to gaze on. We’ll leave it to the guitar mags to salivate over Bernard Butler’s axe craft, though in such a small venue it amazes how he keeps his cool in the glare of the souvenir hunters’ flashbulbs. Butler, ex-Yummy Fur/1990s frontman Jackie McKeown and, er, the other two in the rhythm section offer something very special indeed. Butler is at his jerky Strat shuddering best on the likes
Dancing Shoes, though this is very much a gang of four rather than his vanity project. Two Can-tastic EPs in, it will be fascinating to see how far they take it.
And so, just as the mods start to nod off our headliners appear. Big Boss Man are a Blow Up favourite – signed, as are Baltic Fleet, to its own record label. Tonight, they are not about to disappoint their faithful as the Hammond hums, the bongos pound and we’re in for a right funky shindig. It says much for the energy of live show when even the most dedicated followers of fashion are loosening their cravats. It’s the early hours of a new day, but the bopping ain’t stopping and 20 years in Blow Up remains a blast!