DIRTY BEACHES- Workingmen’s Club, Bethnal Green. 13th May 2013.

DirtyBeaches

 

This was a long time coming. This was much-needed; it was everything. As you know I’m a massive fan of Dirty Beaches. He manages to unleash every feeling you’ve ever had in his symphonic sounds without you even being aware you were feeling that way. There aren’t many who are this powerful but the humbling thing is, Alex doesn’t even know he’s this powerful.

As soon as Alex picks up his guitar you can see just how quickly he is transported into another world on stage. I was lucky enough to be right at the front, to witness this transformation so close was something incredibly special. It was as if he was taking you with him. For this 50 minute set it was just as if the real-world didn’t matter. Why should it ever matter anyway? We have musicians like Alex who have the gift of taking us somewhere else. Somewhere where it’s okay to harbour ugly feelings or carry an inch of self-doubt or the burning desire of lust. Everything seems alright and nothing seems important when  in this world. Live music is sometimes more powerful than the record.

Alex now plays live with Shub Roy and Bernardino Femminielli (who was also support tonight and is hand on heart, on of the most entertaining singers I’ve ever seen. This guy is a character and you need to listen to his music.) I’d never seen Alex play when he was just on his own, this was my first time and it was mind-blowing. The bond between the three musicians is beautiful. Exchanging hugs after every song was just beautiful to watch- they weren’t just three people playing music to us; they are evidently a family unit. Blistering through the new record (double LP!) Drifters/Love Is The Devil, every song played (sadly they don’t play both records in full-but imagine if they did!) something clicks inside of you. You pick up exactly how and more importantly WHY this record was made. I think everything I witnessed at this gig is going to stay with me for as long as I’m alive. Like I said already, Alex has this power that is unaware of but the beautiful thing about him is how humble he is.

When I was stood at the front, I watched him set up- which is where my photo is from, and it was done with such precision. Even before he started his show, you knew something amazing was going to happen tonight. I’ve been to a lot of gigs, and I’ve never seen anything like this before. I’ve never been to a gig where the crowd (thankfully) just shuts up and stays silent. The silence is the backbone to the awe everyone feels as they stand looking at Alex. His fist-pumps to the music resemble someone who is passionately possessed by the music. Bernardio thrashes about on keys whilst Shub looks relaxed as he hits the drum machine, alternating with the guitar. All three of them drift off into another place; but you know they are heading there together. All in their own time, but they sure as hell get there.

Live music is a healing process. Not just for those who are on stage unleashing their furies, but those who stare on in amazement. I cannot tell you what I had going on in my mind as I watched this show, mainly because I was just in awe of everything before me. Nothing mattered, maybe nothing matters now. It’s about the specific moments that make everything alright. This was one moment where everything felt alright.

At the end of each song, you could see relief on Alex’s face like every song performed was just a release for him.  Anyone who is a fan of Dirty Beaches will know just how important and possibly gruelling it was for Alex to make this double record. To see it live and to truly see how much it means to him was an absolute honour to watch. This cathartic experience is something I think anyone who was here tonight will treasure for a long time, I know I will. You see, Alex’s music goes beyond just being music to me. I didn’t really feel as if anyone else was around me at the gig. I felt like I was just stood in the doorway watching someone unleash all their pure emotions. They knew I was there, and it was as if they knew I felt exactly the same. The sheer power and devotion in Alex’s voice is insane. He can have the most ferocious voice but can break your heart in a delicate note. This happened at the end of the set where he was encouraged by us all to come on for an encore. Something which he didn’t expect, again reinforcing just how humble he is.

I’d waited years to see Alex live. Things always got in the way and it just wasn’t do-able. Having finally seen someone who I regard ever so highly as a true inspiration and probably the hardest working musician around, this gig at the Workingmen’s Club in Bethnal Green went beyond all expectations. I knew I was going to have my mind blown. I knew it was going to be like nothing else I had ever seen- I just didn’t expect the aftermath to fill me with a strange sense of hope. I like to think it is hope. It is hope of the unknown. You didn’t know what Alex was going to do next, and that is exactly why we need more musicians like this. Musicians to lure us in during their live shows in a way on record you may have missed. When I listen to his records (soundtracks included) my eyes remain closed. But live you have to keep your eyes open. You cannot tear your eyes away from the stage. I didn’t care for what anyone else was doing (although the guy next to me with curly hair was really getting into the music, he really felt it) I was just taking everything in.

I probably learnt more from this show than anything else. Put everything you have into something; that’s all you can ever do. It doesn’t matter if not everyone likes it because there will always be a handful of people who do.

DIRTY BEACHES-Drifters/Love Is The Devil.

 

I find it quite difficult to write about a band or singer after I’ve interviewed them; especially after I think I’ve exhausted everything I could possibly say about them. Then the sensible part of my brain kicks in and makes me realise I could quite happily go on and on about my favourite music until the end of time.

I think it is fairly obvious how much I love Dirty Beaches. His music has provided a familiar sense of tranquillity and acceptance. The acceptance comes from me; hard work I know. But it has to be done. His music is nothing short of genius. His music is nothing short of sheer perfection. Every note, every word, every little detail is just divine. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. His B-sides have blown my mind and his soundtracks have made me weep. So what on earth has his new two record done to me?

Drifters is the vocal album. Drifters is the one I’ll be playing when I’m wandering around with no concept of home, finding a sense of it in Alex’s music. Love Is The Devil is the one I will play when I cannot sleep. The instrumental album is the one to soothe the soul. The vocal is the one to wake it up. If you really want to shake things up, alternate the songs you listen to. One from Drifters, then one from Love Is The Devil. Or you could just listen to the records one after another to truly see where Alex is coming from.

I’ll mention Love Is The Devil first because I feel this is the one that’s going to stir up some crazy feelings for anyone that listens to it. When I heard the title track I pretty much had the same reaction that everyone else did. Yeah, this sensitive soul right here cried. I cried because you could truly feel pain in the music. Words were not needed. Sometimes words are the worst thing; they can do more harm than good. There aren’t many musicians that can make an instrumental record with so much emotion. So much intensity and a raw delight to it, yet remain so delicate. This is why I believe Alex is from another world, he must be. I know I keep saying he’s a genius but, he truly is. The way he can create so many emotions in just one song and keep it consistent all the way through just leaves you in awe. From this record, my heart firmly belongs to Alone At The Danube River. I shut my eyes as I listened to this one and I was anywhere but here. That’s the best place to be. I get a lot of escapism from Alex’s music, and as someone who cannot stand where they currently live (its okay, I’m moving to London in a few weeks, finally!) music is the truest form of escaping the mundane trials of everyday life here. His music just takes me to another place. I place I suppose I can call home. I’ve wandered around places at night on my own listening to his music, and it always feels like an outer-body experience. Love Is The Devil is more than just an instrumental record; it’s a journey deep into the soul. A journey you will not forget once you are guided through it by Alex.

Now let’s get into Drifters.

Drifters opens with the killer Night Walk. This is a song you will strut along the streets late at night to. It has this insanely 80s beat to it mixed with something sinister. Like a vengeful menace on the prowl. Something is lurking and is coming for you. A menacing vibe to sift in and out during Drifters, and for the most part you can really see why Alex has made soundtracks. Drifters feels like it would be perfectly placed in a horror or thriller film. The 10 minute Mirage Hall is my favourite from Drifters. You see, I have a huge weakness for songs that last over 5 minutes. I love music that just seems to go on forever yet still manages to fill you with excitement as you are taken on a journey through the singer/band’s mind. The last track, Landscapes In The Mist is full of ethereal moments that make you pause before you listen to Love Is The Devil. Part of you thinks, “Maybe I should play Drifters one more time.” You know you must carry on, but then you find yourself at the end of Love Is The Devil going back to Drifters and playing both records on a constant loop. This is how you know you are listening to something truly spectacular.

A lot of new music has come out this year so far, but none have offered what Alex has. He’s created a soundtrack to daily life with these two records. He’s easily made the best two records you will hear this year, you cannot deny him of that. Listening to both records, I’ve developed more respect and admiration for what Alex does. This is a person who truly has music in their blood; that they just HAVE to make music. And it is his sheer passion for music that makes you fall so easily for his music. I cannot favour one record over the other because both are so different yet equally perfect. Both records conjure up different emotions yet provide the same source of comfort. I hope a lot is written about both of these records because they are something that just cannot be ignored. What stands out in both records is the labour that has gone into making them. Anyone who is a fan of Alex knows exactly how hard he works and how much he puts into his music. I think this is something that plays a massive part in being a fan of his music. He’s constantly putting music out, but not in an overbearing way. He leaves you wanting more, and with a back catalogue that is more impressive than most- he can easily add these two records as his best work to date, as clichéd as it sounds. I hope someone who isn’t familiar with his music stumbles across Drifters/Love Is The Devil and develops a lasting obsession. I hope they listen to it and find the pieces of themselves that have been missing for some time.

Whilst most are set on creating a summer-vibe record, Alex keeps you in comforting darkness of the harshest of winters. The loneliness that may enrage you is slowly disappearing, because you realise that someone else gets it. Someone else is unleashing all you feel- with and without words. That is why these two records are not only extremely important but also incredible.

DIRTY BEACHES-Love Is The Devil.

dirty_beaches_varticle_intro

Anyone who has listened to Dirty Beaches knows just how much of a genius this man is. He has the ability to send you way back in time and show you a taste of the future with his music. His music is like poetry for the soul. A form of escapism whilst still being in the midst of a dark reality. In short, he makes you feel part of something no one else dares to take you.

He’s just put a track from his new record up on YouTube. It’s instrumental and it will break your heart. I’ve not had my heart-broken in a long long time, but listening to the sheer sadness in this song; I feel as if I just have. He’s proven that you do not need words to convey one of the worst feelings anyone can ever feel. With heartbreak comes loneliness. With loneliness comes regret, followed by whatever you feel you can handle. This gorgeously vulnerable track has made me even more excited for his new record (he’s got two coming out on Zoo Music so it’s obvious they’re going to be the best records you’ll hear this year.)

Love Is The Devil is for those looking for hope and it is for those who need an equal balance of good/bad feelings in their lives. The sadness immediately hits you. This song would be perfect for a black and white silent film. Alex aka Dirty Beaches is one of the few musicians I hope one day I get to meet and interview because the way his mind works, and the music he makes just leaves me in awe. Complete awe. This Christmas just gone, my uncle and I had an in-depth discussion about Alex’s music, and we both agreed this has never been done before. I doubt it ever will. I struggle to accept that anyone couldn’t hear the beauty in his work. It’s gentle and passionate; especially Love Is The Devil. Everyone should know that Lord Knows Best is one of the greatest love songs of our time. True Blue is a woeful ode to love. Badlands is a record you need in your life. As are his upcoming releases, and previous.

But for now, shut your eyes. Think of something or someone you miss, and take in this beautiful track.