Review of their gig in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin 31.8.99
Cornelius do it with numbers.
A digital countdown. One-two-three-four-five-six. On stage they play heavy metal by numbers. The screen behind, counting to six, loops and repeats itself as we listen to the gut thumping Metallica-style riff from a double-necked guitar. Identically dressed, the band show us another way to play heavy metal and it's wonderful. 'THIS is Heavy Metal' the guitar tells us, and we think 'yeah, now we know Heavy Metal'.
Every guitar pose is a clich? but perfectly correct. I thought Jimmy Page was the only person with the audacity to play a double necked guitar, but both the Guitarist and Bass Player have them tonight. Naturally, once the pose is complete they move onto something else, hemmed in by banks of technology, harmonicas, trumpets and even a theremin, on which a space version of 'Love me Tender' is played to images of a hula dancing Elvis.
There is something very knowing about the band. They've assimilated all this from somewhere, a huge brain sample-bank that is pumped out in a sequence making cool references to all sorts of western pop from the last thirty years. If it's not the Beach Boys, it's Punk. If it's not Punk it's Elvis, and well, we've already done Metallica. Cornelius has taken it all in and spewed back out, but it's the way he spews it that matters. Its like watching the best bits of VH1 on fast forward, with savage beats and no Phil Collins.
Cornelius is much sought after as a remix artist and many of tonight's tracks take on a new sound when played live. I didn't recognise my favourite 'Freefall' until it had finished, a perfect space metal workout with three lyrics; Freefall, down down, slide away'. The purest form of pop music. The man even whistles his way through 'Star Fruit Surf Rider'. Of course, if you keep the lyrics to a minimum you're not going to alienate a Japanese or a western audience.
Cornelius is everyman. There's music for all the tribes here, he fits everywhere and nowhere. Like his namesake, he's a future chimp, sent back in time to show us exactly where we should be going.
'Mushi Mushi!!!'. Bumping into Cornelius's Guitar player after their two-years-in-the-future
gig gave me a chance to practice my Tetsuo 2 Japanese. He seemed faintly bemused
and smiled widely. No disrespect, he'd just blown my mind.
check out CLUAS reviews of other gigs that took place under the 'Transmissions'
banner. Namely Sparklehorse from the US,
Tindersticks from the UK & Can from Germany.
Have you checked out the stuff going down on the CLUASDiscussion Board?