Gig review: Trio VD and HUSK

Jazz Club @ The Rainbow, Birmingham UK
Reviewed by JJ Wheeler

Chris Sharkey still reminisces about the “review with quite a lot of imagery” from TrioVD’s last appearance at the Rainbow (from this very site; reminisce here) with pride. The idea of melting away Simon Cowell’s face with sheer power and originality appeals greatly to most jazz fans, I guess.

However, if Simon Cowell had managed to battle his way into the room tonight (the substantial turnout for this highly anticipated double-bill making it almost impossible to get through the doors after 9pm), he would have been obliterated long before TrioVD took their turn on the grungy Digbeth backyard stage.

Re-vamped and renamed, HUSK (previously Sam Wooster Quartet) revealed a years worth of writing and conceptualisation from one of Birmingham’s most ferociously talented emerging musicians. More Meshuggah than Milt Jackson, mixing hardcore death-metal style riffs with passages of free improvisation, the trumpet led quartet snaked through tricky metric shifts and irregular time signatures with ease, often taking a ‘wall-of-sound’ approach to composed sections.

By contrast, TrioVD immediately took a more rhythmic, percussive approach, opening with rim-clicks, palm-muted guitar lines and tongue-slapped saxophone figures on the 2009 album title track Fill It Up With Ghosts. More eclectic than the previous band, the Leeds-based trio showed off their arsenal of influences throughout the 90-minute balls-to-the-wall set. From the Muse style epic crescendo at the end of their new tune (name yet to be announced!) to the free-up on Kesh (complete with stick twirling and various other bouts of showmanship) which led into a section that can only really be described as Megadeath meets 80s disco in a cement mixer. Short bursts of heavy downbeats and blasting guitar riffs showed that this group could get down just as hard as the previous, but at the same time would switch in the blink of an eye to sparse, haunting soundscapes.

The biggest difference between the two groups (and maybe it’s unfair to compare, but it was a double-bill after all!) was in the free/improvised sections. Both groups incorporated these at large, with HUSK using them to segue the whole 45-minute set magnificently. Wooster’s quartet seemed to have a focus and progressiveness within their improvisation, gradually building to each new onslaught of composed music, whereas TrioVD, whilst mixing up the sounds and ideas within these sections, forever keeping the audience on their toes, occasionally lacked direction in their madcap effects and musical trickery.

What they may have lacked in direction was more than made up for with raw energy and power, insatiable at times, radiating from the stage. It is easy to see why a band obviously enjoying their music-making, putting 110% into every stroke, are such a favourite with crowds wherever they go.

Categories: Live review

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