Louis Gordon/Tenek/Lost Controllers

Camden Rocks, London - 10 December 2009

"From a ska vibe to Kraftwerkian electronics"

Lost Controllers This low-key (more on that shortly) Toffeetones label evening presented me with my first opportunity to see sometime John Foxx collaborator Louis Gordon is solo mode and to check out for the first time newcomers Lost Controllers. Promotion for tonight's event was weak. The Toffeetones MySpace page in the run up to and even on the morning of the gig made no mention of this evening's event - a serious marketing oversight. Thankfully the artists themselves were all promoting it on their pages and it was via a MySpace invitation from the Lost Controllers that it first came to my attention.

Nottingham-based two-piece Lost Controllers [left] bring a youthful vigour and enthusiasm for the electronic pop genre to bear through their sometimes New Order sound. Singer Simon Akers looked uncomfortable to begin with, but he needed have worried. His voice is stronger than many on the scene and shares a passing resemblance to Robert Enforsen of Elegant Machinery. A partisan crowd including what appeared to include a number of friends who are also followers ensured a warm reception. 

Akers relaxed a little as the two worked their way through a solid enough set of pop songs whose deference to their heroes from the 1980s largely managed to avoid mere imitation. There was one cover: of Elektric Music's Kissing The Machine and it was spot on apart from the oddly twisted 'dark' sounding chorus. It's clearly early days but Lost Controllers have the right attitude and could develop quite nicely.

Louis GordonI'd previously caught Tenek [left] for the first time a couple of months ago supporting A Flock of Seagulls. Second time around I had the benefit of being able to discern the merits of individual songs, rather than it being a wash of unfamiliar tracks. I also focused more on Peter Steer rather than his better-known musical partner Geoff Pinckney. Steer's voice struck me as being of equal strength to Pinckney's but has different qualities. The two styles complement each other well and it's unusual to see a synth two-piece where there's parity on vocal ability. 

It wasn't purely keyboards though and Steer's guitar pieces on several songs helped break up their set. Perhaps due to the poor promotional work the audience was small. No less enthusiastic for that but at its peak there were certainly no Tenekmore than fifty people in attendance which, given what one would believe the drawing potential of Pinckney and Gordon's names should be, was a surprise.

Even more surprising to me was that because both Lost Controllers and Tenek had dedicated followers who, once their boys had done their thing, didn't all hang around for the main attraction, resulted in Louis Gordon [right] taking to stage (admittedly around half an hour late) only to face thirty people tops. This was a major shame as Gordon deserved the headline slot and his spirit wasn't dampened by the limited support - turning in a thrilling performance.

Gordon's solo stuff is an eclectic affair, drawing together into an unpredictable mélange of what he himself sums up as electronica, psychedelia and indie. In live delivery his energy explodes off the stage and has the kind of uninhibited passion that the early new wavers and punks had in spades (and which is sadly so often missing these days). He exudes belief in his material which although due to its wide-ranging stylistic variations (we step from a ska vibe on one song to Kraftwerkian electronics on the next) makes it a little difficult for the average punter to match Gordon's own enthusiasm, nevertheless carries the open-minded along on a musical journey that few on this scene could offer. 

What I've listened to of Gordon's recorded work hasn't quite set my world on fire but, from now on, whenever he's playing live down south I'll do all I can to get along and see that I have myself a doozie of a night out. 7/10

Rob Dyer