London Arts Cafe, London
It was quite a remarkably lacklustre turnout for Thighpaulsandra's debut solo performance at London Arts cafe, as part of a showcase for the Gloucester based experimental label Ochre Records. That aside, this was a fantastic performance from the ever so flamboyant Thighpaulsandra, who lends his keyboard and synthesiser wizardry to UR-Pagan Julian Cope, Coil and Spiritualized. With two sprawling colourful releases, I, Thighpaulsandra and Double Vulgar, on Coil's Eskaton label that literally go way beyond genre categorization I wasn't too sure what to expect from a Thighpaulsandra performance. Certainly not the equal parts shaman and showman that took the stage in a procession featuring nubile young men in gold hotpants, and two red cloaked figures.
Thighpaulsandra is attired in a cloak of fake black fur, with accompanying headdress. A magician's wand completes the outfit. They take the stage with the cloaked figures of Martin Schellard (Spiritualized) and Frank Naughton alternating between bass guitar and guitar and keyboards and synthesizers, with semi-naked Siôn Organ on drums and percussion. Thighpaulsandra concentrates on providing experimental ambience before taking centre stage to launch into 'The Angelica Declaration'. It's hyper-charged with sexuality and homoerotic undertones, as Thighp rests his hand on the shoulder of the young male dancer, Chris Jones, with a wicked glint in his eye. The music is positively energised with thumping keyboard stabs and Thighp's harsh abusive vocal announcing his arrival. "The peasants will bow at my feet. Trumpets herald my arrival", he bellows.
The sexually questionable 'Slammer' follows with Siôn Organ (of Rocketgoldstar and with two solo albums scheduled: one on Experimental Seafood, the other Eskaton) providing a sensual vocal over pumping bass, littered with Krautrock influences. It's sultry and sleazy and with its chorus of "I spilt my seed on the back seat of the Variety Club sunshine coach" it's positively debauched. Thighpaulsandra veers from keyboards to vocals gliding from improvised ambience into the space rock of 'Michel Publicity Window', perhaps one of the most straightforward readings from I, Thighpaulsandra. Each track is bookended with experimental soundscapes as Thighp twiddles knobs and dials punctuated with keyboards flourishes. The musicians cloaked and hooded continually switch instruments. It's eccentric and fucking wild as he sings of His Royal Highness breaching reality. Occassionally a glimpes of his gold centurion boots or a snatch of his golden jeans styled shorts, can be caught beneath his robe as he raises his hands skywards. Where his Queen Elizabeth project can slip into cold still ambient drone Thighpaulsandra is eccentric, colourful and sheer entertainment. He splits vocals with Siôn Organ towards the end of the set on more electro sleaze and by the end of the evening he's disrobed and brandishing his skinny body wantonly. The evening is pure opulence with Thighpaulsandra holding court.
These solo outings clearly permit Thighpaulsandra the opportunity to slip the confines of his work with his other projects. In an ideal world this is what the kids would be listening to. This is what we'd be watching on Top of the Pops. Thighpaulsandra is a decadent pop star, a subversive sex symbol for the 21st Century. This is beautiful eccentric entertainment. Isn't this what experimental music should be about? Thighpaulsandra is lining up a host of other dates, with one already scheduled for the Ochre 10th anniversary festival at the Guildhall in Gloucester. Rape Scene is imminent on Ochre Records.
Thighpaulsandra - www.thighpaulsandra.com
Ochre Records - www.ochre.co.uk
Threshold House - www.thresholdhouse.com