Written by Cal Cashin
2017 has seen The Moonlandingz emerge from the realms of fiction and become a fully fledged live proposition after they were dreamt up as the fictional protagonists of The Eccentronic Research Council’s narrative album "Johnny Rocket, Narcissist, Music Maker, I’m Your Biggest Fan". Supported by London hotshots Nervous Conditions and DJ sets from Terry Hall and Don Letts, The Moonlandingz rocked Soho’s 100 Club with their last London gig before slipping off for an indefinite hiatus.
Nervous Conditions' 9.30 set time allowed time for Terry Hall to play a groove-laden set that pushed alternative classics like Question Mark and the Mysterians’ '96 Tears' and Richard Hell’s 'Blank Generation' to the fore. As freakoid eight-piece Nervous Conditions prepared themselves, the ‘Can’ gem 'I Want More' ushered them on to tune their elaborate stage set up.
The octet set up with one Korg synth, a violin, a sax, a guitarist and two drummers, and lurched immediately into a fully fledged astral power jam, which sounded like the Sun Ra Arkestra storming through a Sonic Youth song. Belting through a roaring set of what can only be seen as future hits, the band excelled delivering something truly special and leaving a fractured impression on a bedazzled Central London crowd.
After a DJ set from London’s very own Don Letts, who span a selection of dub mixes of popular bangers, like 'Dare' by Gorillaz and 'Lithium' by Nirvana, the Moonlandingz’s very own dishevelled MC Pat Lyons rattled up the crowd with an anecdote about the band playing Wimbledon. Setting a scene as psychedelic as the organ hum that kicked the group into their first song Vessels, this precedent continued through the thunderous show that the Sheffield based group brought down the M1.
Frontman Lias Saoudi arrived onstage adorning a blue and yellow suit blazer and an equally questionable matching shirt. As he swaggered through rambunctious versions of 'Black Hanz', 'Sweet Saturn Mine' and 'Neuf De Pape'; the latter saw Saoudi pouring wine onto the punters and pilgrims beneath him; he stripped down to simply a pair of joggers. The sultry number 'Strangle of Anna', which he and keys wizard Adrian Flanagan dueted, alongside the penultimate ballad of 'Lay Yer Head Down on the Road' demonstrated the group’s surprising knack to pen a soft, beautiful number.
The band stormed the 100 Club and illustrated why The Moonlandingz and sister band Fat White Family have already become a part of the country’s musical heritage. Powerful guitar riffs, extraterrestrial synth tones, and the maniacal energy of leper messiah Lias Saoudi make these groups particularly special practitioners of strange music that do everything entirely on their own terms.
The evening ended with a DJ set from acclaimed Haçienda DJ Graeme Park, who delighted the dancefloor's occupants with his superbly selected House tunes and choice remixes.
Photos by Ellen Offredy and Phoebe Fox.