Secret Machines: The Garage, London, Wednesday, January 18
Texas’ favourite psychedelic sons take a small step towards the big time
Brandon Curtis, Secret Machines’ keyboardist/bassist/singer, is not a man of many words. It’s over an hour before he offers up any sort of chat to his first London audience for more than a year, and even then it’s just a muffled, “Great to be here.” But then, if NME was in a band who – like Curtis, his brother Benjamin and brutish drummer Josh’s – had just laid waste to The Garage in such emphatic fashion, then we wouldn’t have much use for pleasantries either.
Tonight Secret Machines serrate our eardrums with their familiar sound of Led Zeppelin plundering the catalogues of krautrockers Can and Neu!, but the trio
are now heavier, less contained, sexier. Songs segue seamlessly into one another, through the familiar thrills of ‘The Road Leads Where It’s Led’, ‘Nowhere Again’ and the newer throb of ‘Lightning Blue Eyes’.
There’s a refreshingly self-indulgent streak here too, most apparent in a version of new album centrepiece ‘Daddy’s In The Doldrums’ so long that it has NME wondering whether we’ll make the start of the World Cup, let alone the last bus home. But bristling with the same attitude as their spiritual(ized) forefathers, it brilliantly demonstrates this group’s uniqueness in the current musical landscape.
There’s more here than just a headfuck, mind. Last summer Secret Machines played with Oasis on their stadium dates, and though their trance-heavy epics may have flown way over the vast proportion of the beery masses’ heads, it’s clear that, come this summer, the elegant, Pink Floydian balladry of new single ‘Alone, Jealous And Stoned’ certainly won’t. A comedown classic-in-waiting, it’s perfect preparation for the assault on the senses that is the climactic ‘First Wave Intact’.
And then, in a mass of strobe, they’re gone, soon to return to stages far grander than this. The secret’ll be out soon – catch these Machines while you can.