London, United Kingdom –
What a fantastic way to spend a Friday night!
An amazing night of music was kicked off by Jemma Freeman and The Cosmic Something. A “Non-Binary drag fronted alt/glam/psych/pop band” dressed in white boiler suits, joyously entered the stage around 8:30. Fronting the group with powerful vocals is Jemma Freeman; joined by talented bassist, Jason Ribeiro and fierce drummer, Samuel Nicholson. A talented group of people whose energy’s mould together perfectly to create an incredible performance.
Freeman is proudly autistic and non-binary and this is represented in their songs and make-up. They explained to me afterwards that they wear the make-up as it empowers them to be free to express themself without having the gendered bias and male gaze that unfortunately comes along with being in front of an audience.
In the past, before they donned the make-up, they had people telling them that they “take up to much space on stage”, how to make their music and play their guitar but having the drag make-up adds a “barrier” to block people from doing this, so they are free to express their true self.
Proudly on stage tonight, the trio performed a fantastic set of songs with Freeman adding a personal touch in-between to explain the ideas behind the songs. It was great to see the members of the other bands performing tonight scattered across the crowd all supporting each other. Just before the end of the first set Freeman entered into the crowd, passionately playing their guitar knelt down. A terrific way to start off a powerful evening.
As the crowd grabbed drinks from the bar upstairs Shaku got set up ready to perform, Playing a great cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as a warm-up. The crowd flooded back downstairs in time for Shaku to take to the stage and give an impressive performance.
The ‘Frog Rock’ band hailing from Leeds consists of brilliant vocals and guitar from Noiak Bedirian, strong guitar playing from Rob McNicholas, Jack Hespe giving an intense performance on drums, Kieran Halpin masterfully playing bass and impressive keys from Jasper Green. First song down, “More of that please!” yells someone from the crowd. A hypnotic effect swarmed through the venue as the band began playing again, no one stood still; The crowd danced away to the dynamic tones flowing from the stage.
“People of the Seb Knee-Wright Arms, How are you doing?” called out Bedirian, poking fun at the similarity of the venue’s name (Sebright) to Joshua Zero guitarist, Seb Knee-Wright. A beautiful ballad was next, “The Magic Of Love”. “I wrote this with my grandpa” begins Bedirian, “He doesn’t speak much English, but he wrote this poem”. The delightful song filled the air but was soon over. Bedirian announced the band would be joined on stage by his sister, Aliak, for some moving vocals and percussion player Alex D-T.
As Shaku’s set came to a close the energy did not waver. Right up to the end joy pulsed through the venue. Again a departure to the bar was made by the gig-goers.
Almost time for the moment that everyone has been waiting for, but first Charlie Hutton took to the stage adorned with a balaclava and a poem. “Are you ready for a bit of Joshua Zero tonight?” he belted out. “So I’ve got a few words to say, came to me last night in a dream and it goes something like this:
Open your eyes and keep them pealed,
For glory love a truth revealed.
The tolling of the silver bell,
An urgent ticker tape from hell.
Roll up, roll up for a dazzling din,
Where circus freaks get fucked on gin.
Prepare for the next instalment of the best band you ever knew,
It’s called ‘delights are plenty, but tears are due’.
Christian Veitch used to be my hero,
Now I’m in love with Joshua Zero.”
Hutton recited throwing his red balaclava and decorated cue cards into the crowd and exiting the stage allowing Joshua to step up to the mic for the beginning of the first song, “My Guitar Is A Nuclear Weapon”. “Seb Knee–Wright’s guitar is a nuclear weapon!” they began, changing the lyrics to fit the situation.
“Once activated, it has the capacity to destroy entire civilisations” they continued on. Joshua Zero is a Non-Binary musician who fronts the ‘An art-rock project’ known as Joshua Zero. Uniquely, the band sports balaclavas on stage: The artists that join Zero on stage revolve and can change from venue to venue, so to keep the continuity they adorn the masks (until they get hot): Tonight the crowd were graced by an impeccable performance by Joshua Zero on vocals, guitar and keys, the phenomenal Maeve Westall on drums, Seb Knee-Wright giving an outstanding performance on guitar and a remarkable performance by bassist Nathan Sayers.
Next on the list was “12 Inch Alcoholics” followed by “Your Eyes Are Fighting Me”, an intensity of pure joy filled the air. “These chaps are so hot” complained Joshua, which was met by an audience member chanting “Take them off”. A sea of laughter flooded the venue and drummer, Maeve Westall, calling out “If you want to see Josh perform with no pants, text ‘NO’ to 999”. For now, only the shirt came off.
It’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the live performance and recording: True talent was seen on that stage and EP. A dark, abstruse pub basement had been transformed into a powerful, spirited venue. After the song “Vincent the Dog”, Joshua fired up the crowd with a call and response game: “When I say ‘Vincent’, You say ‘The dog’” the pace dropped for the opening of “My New Room”.
Though the opening to the song is more emotionally driven and calmer than others on tonight’s set, the connection and drive between audience and band never wavered. As we move into the last song of the EP and set, “Haus Party 101”, a mosh pit broke out and balaclavas were removed. The raging crowd took their first look at the performers who accompanied Joshua on stage; Westall was first to take hers off, followed closely by Knee-Wright and finally Sayers.
Not a single person stood still: Everyone was dancing, in the mosh pit or shouting the lyrics. A powerful way to end an incredible evening. Before departing the stage, once more a chant of “Spread those cheeks” filled the room, this time Joshua obliged pulling both sides of their underwear up, as they were already wearing crotch-less chaps, it didn’t take much.
An unbelievable evening of talent! Three bands that complimented each other perfectly in a basement now doused with flowers and beer. What more could you want?
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Show Date: May 6, 2022