Live Review: Dub Trio
Venue: Underworld, London
Date: 17th May 2009
There’s a somewhat lacklustre atmosphere for tonight’s show, probably down to the none-too-encouraging turnout, seemingly put off by the dreadful prospect of another early Monday morning. But once the three members of Dub Trio eventually saunter onto the Underworld’s glorified platform, things immediately start to get a lot more exciting. As guitars are strapped on, drummer Joe Tomino (whose bald/beard combo make him look as if he put his head on the wrong way round tonight) introduces himself and the band, informing us that “to make things special” we’ll be treated to a medley of Britney Spears’ career that the band have practiced for at least seven hours, come the end of the set. It’s hard to know what to make of that before we’ve heard it, but once Tomino runs off to his drum kit in the gloomy corner of the stage, there’s not much time to contemplate the possibilities.
This is because Dub Trio are loud. Incredibly so, given we’re inside the underground arse-end of a pub and there’s only three men on stage. But numbers don’t matter, because the noise is phenomenal. Tomino cracks into his snare with precision and power, cutting through the intestine vibrating bass and ear drum grinding guitar. The material from ‘Another Sound is Dying’ stands out as the most ball-grabbing of the set, ‘Not for Nothing’ opening things with devastating accuracy, its central guitar line reverberating throughout the whole room.
Standing right in front of the stage there’s one bloke going exceptionally crazy, jabbing his arm in the air to accentuate every beat. He’s also watching the entire gig through his camera phone, clearly not realising that when he goes to watch it back all he’s going to hear is something equivalent to an avalanche, especially when the overpowering fuzzy bass of ‘Jog On’ tries its damndest to destroy the Underworld’s PA system.
The trouble is with the crafty concoction of dub and rock that Dub Trio has made their sound in the past, is that dub is a somewhat tedious medium. Rather unchallenging and often best enjoyed whilst off your rocks on a few ounces of Jamaica’s finest, it’s a bit of a struggle to stay interested when the band go off on another exploration of whacked out basslines and incessant fiddling of knobs and pedals. Whilst die-hard fans may be able to follow the long-winding passages of guitar effects, a lot of the audience are left staring into space, fidgeting uncomfortably and waiting for something with a little more crunch. Either that or a deck chair would have been nice.
It’s hard to be critical of the set though, even when the planned Britney Spears tribute is lost amongst the myriad adventuring of these musical minds, unsurprisingly. ‘No Flag’ is played once the band re-enter for the old clichéd encore (sort of pointless when you can see the three of them waiting at the side of the stage, but nevermind), and in a desperate bid to encourage some crowd interaction Tomino asks the crowd to sing along. Which they don’t, allowing the slow paced, chilling nature of the track creep its way down your spine with all sorts of malevolent thoughts.
For the most part Dub Trio exceed expectations, full of just as much bite and anger live as they exhibit on their studio albums. The gig only suffers when things go into all out dub territory, with jams testing the patience of the audience (except stupid waving arm man). But when they rock out, the trio do it with a relentless power, leaving unprotected ears ringing in pain. Shame about the lack of red leather cat suits mind.