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Loam are a remarkably unique band, with a unique blend of sounds borne out of a love of electronic pop, mad drums and the dulcet tones of Nick Cave. The three band members, Gordon Barker (electronics/bass), Laurie Leigh Allport (vocals/guitar) and Tom Didlock (drums), came together to create music which would reflect their three contrasting musical influences and styles. Their writing process entails one musical idea being thrown in to the mix with everyone adding to it until a track is born. They cite their influences as Nick Cave, Fuck Buttons and Future Islands.

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The Rocking Chair was heaving and their fans pushed close to the stage in this already intimate venue. As the lights went down, and the stage was flooded with a purple haze, Tom Didlock (Didi) started his signature drum beat, fast and unapologetic, in the vein of Keith Moon but with a little more Animal thrown in. And I’m referencing The Muppets here. Before long, my heart was palpitating, trying to keep up with the speed and the syncopation – an impossible task – and just as I felt my heart was going to burst from my chest, the melody began, pulling the drums back for a moment so we could all catch a breath.

Heron is the first track played for us this evening, and as soon as Laurie opens his mouth we are spellbound. His rich, mesmerising vocals take us through a repetitive vocal, one hypnotic sound dripping with melancholy.

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With his head tilted back strumming his white guitar, he seems to be lost too as he plays a slow, wavering melody undulating with sorrow. Behind this mournful tune we have a layering of heavy slow electronics from Gordon and the continuing rapid drum beat from Didi. The melody is steady while the drums and electronics dance up through key changes in contrast to the general low mood of the piece.
This piece is anthemic in its lyrics ‘It’s so holy now’ before the drumming becomes wild again, faster and faster, whipping our hearts up while the melody continues this drone of sadness and despair. His growling vocals are reminiscent of early Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode) here.

And the Change, the Change, the change –
And the room is always warmer,
Without you.
 
And the Shame, the shame, the shame.
He’s folded into something more beautiful than you…

With pulsating final chords, we finish. The speed of the drums and electronics behind these heavy vocals are breathtaking and I was glad I was sitting down as my head was in a spin.
The next track is ‘Holy’ which begins with a manic drum riff.

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I had just thought Didi couldn’t possibly play any faster yet here he is on this tiny stage managing just that. A duel with Gordon, a crescendo of electronics clashing as the two battle together until Laurie takes charge with a heavy strum on his guitar to dampen the drama and bring it back to him. Laurie’s poetry drips from the mic here – I can’t possibly quote the whole lyric though I wish I could.

We are the Children’s children’s children
 Of every witch you didn’t burn
 
There have been many here before me
Bending light and bending knives…all around

These reverberating vocals echo Nick Cave as Laurie takes us to the darkest enclaves of his mind.

Would you Tie me by the wrists?
Just to stop me from praying …

The heavy bass drum along with lighter fillers run with a syncopation once more with a use of cymbals to lighten the mood from time to time.

As Far as the First Road begins with a repetitive three note start luring us in again before the deep rolling drums begin. This repeats again as we all fall in to a trance like state. We are then led to just trance-like drums and vocals of:

In case you read me
Why would you want to read me?
Will you lay wreathes over my entry in your diaries?

The lyrics cut through to the raw emotion of the human heart and are presented to the audience as such.
Laurie’s strong resonating vocal here evokes Nick Cave again in momentary glimmers. These three musicians are incredibly talented in writing and performing such heartfelt drama and emotional turmoil. I had to go home and listen to my Leonard Cohen albums to cheer myself up…
Sadly, we only heard a few tracks this evening but thankfully, Loam are never far away from a stage. You can catch them on July 22nd at Sheffield Tramlines at The Plug at midday. I recommend that you do. But only if you think your heart can take it. I’m hoping mine survives Didi’s drum beats next time round!

KATE O’BRIEN

PHOTOGRAPHY MAL WHICHELOW

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