Sex Gang Children with Twin Noir, The Exchange, Bristol – 30-11-2023

I didn’t have time to listen to Twin Noir before the show, but with a Bandcamp profilethat reads “Punk / New Wave / Goth / EDM duo from Berlin, driven by a tape machine. The duo develop its power by doing minimalistic lyrics in german language, combined with powerfull basslines, sound spheres by guitar, synthesizers and dark danceable electronic club sounds“, I had to be there in time to catch their set. That sounded exactly like my sort of thing.

They have a very nice professional banner. The singer/guitarist’s outfit has a Blues Brothers vibe. The intro track has a Babylon Berlin-esque cabaret vibe. All of which gives some indication of what’s to come – performance art. We’re off to a promisng start and they have my complete attention.

The only good thing about the venue being half empty (seriously Bristol – where was everybody?) is that the performers could come out onto the floor. First the singer came out and precariously balanced his guitar on one hand – I was holding my breath throughout, as you can imagine.

I held my breath the whole time

Later on he came into the middle of the audience, set the mike on the floor and banged his shoe on the floor so that it made a wonderful crackly sound on the stage. As a lifelong Neubauten fan, I totally approve of this “found instruments” approach.

The guitar is played through an array of effects pedals which gives off surf punk and psychedelica flavours at times.

None of which answers the crucial question: But are they any good?

Most emphatically, yes! The mixture of all the elements described above could have resulted in an an overly busy mess, but it works wonderfully. Obviously the nerd in me was excited by all these elements, but crucially the songs are good and I had a lot of fun. Catchy rhythms and tunes, amusing lyrics, a lot of thought has gone into the visual presentation – I approve.

I’ve since listened to the album and it’s Very Good Indeed.

Twin Noir: an up and coming act to look out for.

I may be old, but I’m not old enough to have seen Sex Gang Childen back in the day. I am, however, old enough to have seen Andi Sex Gang solo (at least I think it was not SGC proper) in a pub in Leeds in the first half of 1992 (I cannot recall what pub, only that it was not one of my usual haunts. It wasn’t the sort of gig there were tickets for so my scapbook is no help).

Tonight we are here to celebrate 40 years of Song and Legend. Again, not that old, but I bought my copy in the summer of 1990 – it was one of my first purchases when I moved to Toronto. I played it to death that summer and I can safely say it’s one of the main albums that formed my goth musical sensibilities.

In the run up to the gig I wondered whether Andi SG still do *that thing* with his voice. One need not have worried – so much, yes. He’s still a mesmerising performer who is very much enjoying bringing the album to life.

The hallmark of a good performance of material that you know really well is that it makes you really think about it, and shows you elements that you never noticed before. Tonight’s show really delivered on that front.

I never thought about it much at the time, but Sex Gang Children were really not like many of their contemporaries. More Art and cabaret, less rock and roll. On reflection, the only contemporary band I’d compare them to is The Virgin Prunes.

Another thing I never noticed before is the reason SGC are so wonderful (on a more technical level than they are unique and talented) is because each individual element is perfect in its own way – vox, guitar, bass and drums – put them together it’s just magic.

Another sign of a successful show for me is if I just switch off and disappear into my own head with the music. I did that a lot tonight. Thus I took very few photos, I was too lost in the music.

If there were any justice in this world the venue would have been bigger, and packed. However, from a punter’s perspective it was great to see them in such an intimate setting which fits the cabaret-esque style of the music and to comfortably be in the front row.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this album, and for sharing it with us tonight.