THURSTON MOORE + MICHAEL CHAPMAN + DEAN McPHEE @ HEBDEN BRIDGE TRADES CLUB. February 3rd 2013
Opening for two legends would be an intimidating job for most acts but Dean McPhee isn’t most acts. Like some modern day equivalent of Vini Reilly, he creates beautiful guitar music that is both rich in melody and hypnotic in sound. On a big P.A. in a high-roofed venue like the Trades Club is sounds like a spiritual experience and one perfectly pitched towards the evening.
Michael Chapman takes to the stage with a wisecrack about how often he plays the Trades Club. He really isn’t kidding, either, he is practically a member. He plays a thoughtful set of dark ballads and instrumental flourishes. His voice has deepened and darkened since the era of “Rainmaker” and “Fully Qualified Survivor”.
He dedicates an instrumental song to the late Jack Rose and then lays down some of that classic acoustic picking, showing himself to be a forefather of that sound and a master of the guitar. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the audience get it and he is applauded by the crowd as a co-headliner.
The imposing figure of Thurston Moore takes to the stage and arranges his notes on a music stand. Armed with a twelve-string acoustic, he sounded at times like two guitarist and played mostly sweet ballads with his distinctive trademark style with occasional outbreaks of finger picking violence and distortion.
As a musician who you’re used to approaching with walls of distortion and noise, it’s fascinating to hear him stripped down to the bare bones of acoustic guitar. It also really rams home what a fantastic guitar player he is. There were a couple of people lurking at the back wearing classic Sonic Youth t-shirts but Thurston was not reliving old glories tonight but playing new songs in a bold, new style.
The night climaxed with Thurston and Michael teaming up to bring the noise. Michael played huge, chugging power chords whilst Thurston made his guitar absolutely fucking soar. After all the sonic beauty the evening had provided, here suddenly came a big, mighty tsunami of wild, abstract guitar noise washing over us. It was a hell of a way to end a hell of an evening