EMF bring the Beauty and the Chaos to London – Live at The Garage, 20/1/2024

The common thread through all of them... the energy with which the band perform the songs

Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media

A cold night in London, Arsenal playing at home, the pubs were full and we couldn’t get into the Famous Cock which stands on the opposite side of the road to our venue, The Garage, because it was match-day ticket holders only. What about EMF ticket holders? Apparently the burly fella on the door didn’t know them. I know, I know. It’s (cough) unbelievable. 

So Wetherspoons it was where, amazingly, a pint doesn’t require a mortgage.  A rare feat for old London town. By the time we left, suitably refreshed and raring for a good night of music, we’d just missed opener Funke & The Two Tone Baby. Word on the street was that the one-man band who produces fat dance beats and filthy synth basslines, juxtaposed by a beaten up blues guitar, sing-along anthems and glitchy harmonica (takes a deep breath) was on point. Having played in front of one of the largest opening crowds at Beautiful Days festival, in hindsight I should have crossed the road earlier. 

The Dirt

By the time I was inside The Garage and down the front, The Dirt were about to hit the stage. To me, the name brings memories of the autobiography from Sunset strip rockers, Motley Crue and the subsequent Netflix movie. It was with interest then that I discovered The Dirt was not a Crue covers band but instead a transglobal collaboration between Japanese musician Sachiko and partner Jack (aka Leon the pig Farmer), a spoken word artist living in Manchester UK. As per their Bandcamp page, they combine Psych shoe gaze guitars, electronic rhythms and abrasive
spoken verse to full genre bending effect. 

On that basis their set should have been quite something. And it was. The attitude and visceral lyrical approach spewing forth from Jack’s mouth provided the perfect foil to Sachiko’s trippy guitar work. A mix of Sleaford Mods, Professor Green, Mike Skinner mixed in with the vibe of trance anthems and we have The Dirt. A hugely entertaining set and one coming from an act completely new to me playing a style of music that I’d never knowingly have made an effort to see but I’m mightily glad I did. 

  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF
  • 2024 01 20 The Dirt UK, Supporting EMF

EMF

And so to our headliners. With a new album released the same weekend, The Beauty and The Chaos, we are now at a point where EMF have a wealth of material to really mix up their set lists. Moving firmly away from the nostalgia circuit and playing tracks from the first two albums only, EMF now happily, and to the fans delight, sample music from the (almost) entirety of their career. Whilst Cha Cha Cha, an album that James and Ian admit was something of a side-step, might not sit well live, tracks from the other four peppered the set list and it was hugely encouraging to see just how well tracks from both Go Go Sapiens and The Beauty and The Chaos fit alongside those classics of the early 90s that we all know so well. 

Opening with Children seemed almost inspired. With the sirens of the track making a reappearance on recent single Hello People, opening the night with one of the songs that truly created the EMF sound was the perfect start. From the moment the samples and beats kicked in, the crowd and the band were off. 

The early days vibe continued with both Long Summer Days and personal favourite Lies (please bring a trumpet player on for a show next time lads) before Read The Room gave us our first taste of the new material being performed live. Honestly it felt like it had been part of the set for years. To prove the point we then got served a veritable smorgasbord of old and new with tracks from Stigma, Go Go Sapiens and The Beauty and The Chaos. The common thread through all of them… the energy with which the band perform the songs, laced with the biggest smiles to suggest that the enjoyment of playing the material is as strong as the enjoyment in the crowd at hearing it. 

Aside from a touch of grey in Ian Dench’s beard, the band look, sound and move like they’re in their early 30s rather than their 50s. Watching James Atkin bounce around his mic stand like it was 1992 has a rejuvenating effect on those of us who grew up with the band’s music back in the day. All of a sudden we moved from a drink and a chat to a cheer and a pogo. An approach undertaken by many in the room and an approach to be applauded because we’ve clearly still got it when we need it. Good old memory muscles eh! 

The sign of a good, nay, a great band, is when they can play their biggest hit at a point in the show that isn’t the last track of the main show or contained in the encore. As the closing bars of one of the newest tunes the band has written, Stardust, closed, so the band launched into Unbelievable to the delight of the crowd. Another pogo around the floor, beer sloshing everywhere and we’re into a cover of I’m A Believer. Originally performed by The Monkees (and written by the Jazz Singer himself, Neil Diamond) EMF made the song their own. If you’ve been able to pick up the new album then you’ll find it as a bonus track on the CD and if vinyl is your thing then the yellow limited edition has a 7″ single with the track on it, backed with a version of Hello People featuring the one and only Stephen Fry. 

With a cover of Just Can’t Get Enough (Depeche Mode) in the encore making me yearn for a covers ep (come on lads you know it makes sense) the show closed with, as expected, EMF

EMF, from me to you… what can I say other than thank you – I’m very very glad you’re back. Hopefully for good. 

  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London
  • 2024 01 20 EMF, The Garage, London

SETLIST: 

Children
Long Summer Days
Lies
Read The Room
Getting Through
Sister Sandanista
The Day The Music Died
Inside
Reach For The Lasers
They’re Here
Hello People
Stardust
Unbelievable
I’m a Believer (Neil Diamond cover)
I Believe
Encore:
Just Can’t Get Enough (Depeche Mode cover)
EMF

Our review of the band’s new album The Beauty and The Chaos is below: 

 

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HEILUNG’S LIVE SPECTACLE AT THE RIVERSIDE THEATER IN MILWAUKEE, WI ON SAT, APRIL 20TH, 2024: AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY OF SOUND, STORY, AND SPIRIT

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