On to the second gig of my busy gig-week back in June: Masters of Reality at the Islington O2.
Masters of Reality never got the recognition they deserved, and their debut album, the timeless Blue Garden, remains one of the most underrated of rock albums. With their pulsing rhythms, they have been a significant influence on Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age, among others, Chris Goss producing Kyuss and QOTSA albums as well as the Desert Sessions series. They can also boast drummer Ginger Baker as a former member, the erstwhile fruitcake having appeared on Sunrise on the Sufferbus and contributed vocals to ‘TUSA’, an understandable rant about how Americans don’t get how to make a good cuppa.
Chris Goss is a delightful guitarist, laconic and sensuous in his playing, and his vocals often possess a light, otherworldly quality. It’s easy to imagine him as a male equivalent of Doraldina at the county fair, his dimly-lit fortune-teller’s tent smelling seductively of sandalwood, bedecked with strange objects and symbols and dubious, esoteric old hard-bound books. Or maybe that’s just me.
Highlights were ‘Doraldina’s Prophecies’, and ‘John Brown’ on an acoustic 12-string, replete with hypnotic slide guitar. By set closer ‘Blue Garden’, Goss’s amp was up to 12+ – at the front of the crowd his amp was dominating the PA, and I couldn’t really hear the other guitarist, Dave Catching!
Here’s an excellent review of the gig from the unfailingly high-calibre Every Record Tells a Story. Loads of great photos – judging from the angle we must have been standing pretty much next to each other. And here’s their excellent full set from this summer’s Pinkpop, Homme looking on approvingly from the side of the stage:
I was also fortunate to get there early to catch the first support act, Safi. A three-piece from Leipzig with dark, angular songs and a good feel for texture, they can boast a singer/guitarist with great stage presence. On the odd track, the drummer reminded me a little of Matt Cameron; sometimes it’s the spaces in a rhythm that define it. Here’s Safi playing ‘November’ with Chris Goss:
Setlist: Back to You, She Got Me (When She Got Her Dress On), Always, Absinthe Jim and Me, 100 Years (of Tears on the Wind), Doraldina’s Prophecies, Rabbit One, Third Man on the Moon, Lookin’ to Get Rite, Hey Diana, Jody Sings, John Brown, Deep in the Hole, Dreamtime Stomp, Tilt-a-Whirl, The Blue Garden