Jan Doyle Band/Voi Vang/3D/Punk Disco

The Urban Bar Whitechapel, London -  21 April 2018

"Very punk and very, very enjoyable"

I find myself at the Urban Bar in Whitechapel to see a very eclectic line up of acts. The upstairs room is fairly small, but has a great vibe and sound system (and a high temperature too!). The audience for tonight is like a who's who of electronic music artists and aficionados and the atmosphere is superb.

First act for the night is Punkdisco. The first time I saw the act I was a bit confused when a DJ started the set on his own - Paul (and thought this was not all that interesting). However, then he was joined on stage by Leah and the entire thing came to life. (Please don't get me wrong Paul is great - it's just I am not normally enthused by DJ sets as a concept).

Paul produces clever and interesting mixes of their own music, with a few extracts of other tunes in between (for that Disco effect). Leah has a unique, cutting, raw and unproduced sound and makes up the Punk element. This was a great opening act and a most entertaining one. I look forward to seeing them again. By the way, if you do not like profanity then the lyrics of many of the songs may upset you - and they also raise some of the major issues of the day - again very punk, and very, very enjoyable.

Punk Disco setlist: 29 DJs, I Can Dance, At the Disco, Mess Leah Up, Good Looking, All the Things, I'm Not Pretty

Punk Disco Leah DEF London
     Punk Disco Leah DEF London
   3D/Ugly Nature DEF London

Photos [L-R]: Punk Disco x2, 3D

Next up is 3D with the musical tour de force that is Dean (Brutalist Architecture In The Sun) Clarke. Dean's weapons of choice tonight are a Moog Sub37 and a Novation MiniNova. The synth geeks in the audience were astounded by the great Vox Humana sound managed to get out of the MiniNova, and the amount of feeling and expression solicited from it.

The other half of the act is Thomas Kelly, who is a brilliant front man, with a great voice, exceptional presence and a nice counterpart to Dean. It's a format that works very well.
The band wryly refer to their sound as coldrave - reflecting that it ranges from the minimal synth sounds of coldwave through to overt dance beats - all with Kelly's strong vocals and showmanship up front. Most satisfying are the rich, deep analog synth lines and thumping, dry, drum pad sounds - a consistent presence whatever the BPM.

Both Biometric and Alien Expression are new songs, and both getting their first live airing tonight. 3D will soon be re-branding as Ugly Nature (named after one of the tracks in tonight's set). New name, same band. So if you've yet to see them in action, make a note of the name change, and take any chance you get. The music and performance are absolutely top notch.

3D setlist: The Next New Thing, Biometric, Medwave, I Confess, Alien Expression, Ugly Nature, I Wanna Riot

Talking of top notch, next on stage was Voi Vang (who was celebrating her 20th Birthday the following day). This was another impressive performance with Voi Vang giving a great vocal performance and a great and extremely well-choreographed dance routine. (I was very impressed with her spatial awareness on the relatively small stage).

3D/Ugly Nature DEF London
   Voi Vang DEF London    Voi Vang DEF London

Photos [L-R]: 3D, Voi Vang x2

Voi Vang's musical style is the most mainstream of tonight's line up. There's commitment, professionalism and ambition in equal measure in everything she does on stage, meaning her music transcends its core dance pop elements. Aided immeasurably by her impressive vocal talent.

If any A&R men are reading this you should take a look at this young lady. She knocks the spots off many of today's chart acts. Not only that, but it should be noted than Voi Vang not only sings and dances, but writes and produces all of her own material. Another wow act for the evening.

Voi Vang setlist: In The Dark, Mirror, My Mind, Light Of The City, Sleepless Night, Streets Of Gold, Cards

If Voi Vang has great spatial awareness the same can not be said for Derek Anthony Williams of the Jan Doyle Band. I have seen JDB in action on many occasions and the addition of synth player Michael Stokes is always a bonus. Tonight, Stokes was playing a Korg PolySix and a Korg DW8000 - both of which I imagine are older than he is. Following on from the previous three acts was always going to be difficult, but I should not have been concerned. As a front man Williams, complete with stiletto heeled thigh high boots, is a great showman and his performance was incredible.

At one stage it looked like he had collapsed, and I was genuinely worried, and decided to stop taking photos as it would not be appropriate if he was not well. Happily, it turned out to be part of the act, and, as soon the track finished, he made an amazing recovery. William's playfully labels JDB's creations as Insurrectionary Neo Futurism - stylishly capturing the various electronic/punk/flamboyant influences. Tonight was also the best vocal performance I'd heard by him to date.

Jan Doyle Band DEF London
   Jan Doye Band DEF London    Jan Doyle Band DEF London

Photos [L-R]: Jan Doyle Band x3

For the later part of the set Derek and Michael were joined by Valkyrie from the Priscilla's on guitar (and who has lent her talents to Lena Lovitch's live band). This added yet another dimension to the act, especially on tracks like the very Sisters of Mercy-like Sister Sarah. The finale of the night was a memorable cover of Toyah's I Want To Be Free, Derek mingling with the audience and causing chaos (of the good kind). Always unpredictable and increasingly impressive, Jan Doyle Band demand (and deserve) your attention.

Jan Doyle Band setlist: Body Balanced, Lucid, Nitrate Visions, Green, Oblivion,Burn, You Like, Sister Sarah, Start of War, I Want to Be Free

All in all it was a great evening of very different and eclectic acts. Based on the enthusiastic responses throughout from a vocally appreciative audience, I think it safe to say a great night was had by all. 9/10

Review: Mark Smith & Rob Dyer
Mark Smith