Saturday, 5 November 2016

Big Trouble In Little Trafford: John Carpenter Live 29/10/16

I remember gaining my love for the horror genre in the 80's. The pirate video man would come along every Friday with a car boot full of banned VHS nasties, a secret section for the dad's ( Wink..Wink ), and a few films to keep us kids happy. Among the selection of rubbish, pirate copies of films that had been badly recorded from the back of the cinema ( Someone would always stand up in front of the camera ) you would sometimes uncover some gems and what i would like to call Horror Classics. A lot of these would be by a New York director and film composer ( I would grow to love ) John Carpenter: The Thing, The Fog, Prince Of Darkness and of course Halloween ( I started young watching these ) 

Later in the 80's I would go to the cinema to see Starman and Big Trouble In Little China. I would buy everything he made on DVD including the not so good films, which brings me to Vampires. One night in the winter of this year, slightly intoxicated, all alone and in need of something to watch I search through my DVD Collection and pick out said film. Not his finest work but entertaining enough while sipping a single malt. I decide to google the film and suddenly like Micheal Myers jumping out of a birthday cake I see John Carpenter live in Manchester. Blimey - I need some of that. So a few months later and after working through my Carpenter collection I find myself excitedly entering the Victoria Warehouse in Trafford, Greater Manchester.

Now let's get the negatives out of the way: A.T.P who were the original promoters had booked an event to be held at the Albert Hall in the heart of Manchester. There was to be a line up of Electronic support with The Horror Master headlining over two nights, unfortunately we're told A.T.P went bust so the two nights became one and moved to the Victoria Warehouse. The doors opened at 6.30, John Carpenter came on at 8.30 and only played for 75 mins. In between there was no support, just eerie music ( Which was a disappointment ) and some fans had been there since 5.30 for the meet and greet, it was a real downer. It was too crowded and the people at the back complained of not seeing or hearing much but luckily I wasn't one of them.

I enter the warehouse straight in to a loose scene from Escape From New York with the Liberty Island Security Control (though i wasn't offered the choice to be terminated) I'm loving the costumes and the lengths that dedicated fans have gone to. 

I move through the rammed venue to get closer to the stage ( Obviously for the review and pictures ) 8.30 the lights go down and the band enters. Carpenter graces the stage, he looks exactly the same as the 80's apart from looking well ..a bit grey. The trademark mustache and ponytail, dressed in black, he takes his position in front of his synthesizer. The opening notes of the instantly recognizable Escape From New York send shivers done my spine like I've just met Sutter Cane at a book signing ( In a good way ) I've waited years for this. The hypnotic Theme From Assault On Precinct 13 follows. The visuals all show a condensed version of the film set to the duration of each piece. Carpenter plays simple but effective two finger playing while chewing bubble gum and making dad dancing cool. Each piece is a classic before he takes to the mic ' Hello, Manchester ' and introduces two pieces from his Lost Themes albums, the brilliant Vortex is a highlight.

The stage suddenly becomes surrounded by Fog and you can guess what's next? Then the sunglasses go on..

Literally all band members produce sunglasses and during the slow bluesy groove of They Live, the late Roddy Piper appears on the screen ( The crowd give a respectful cheer ) Carpenter mentions the legendary composer Ennio Morricone who of course he worked with on the score to the classic and claustrophobic horror remake The Thing. The band get's introduced and a special cheer for Cody Carpenter ( The young son of John and Adrienne Barbeau; incidentally I overhear one guy telling his mate about Barbeau losing her bathing suit in The Swamp Thing ha..ha.. )

A few more electronica pieces from Lost Themes 1 & II are performed, Carpenter takes to the mic again ' I have a friend ', we made 5 movies together, we went in search of a girl with green eyes and got in to big trouble..' We can only pray that the cheque is in the mail and they get back together for a sixth film, right guys? 

Carpenter takes it darker and with these Halloween shows entitled ' Release the bat's ' we get darker ' I  direct Horror movies, I Love Horror movies, Horror movies will live forever' carpenter tells us. The young Micheal Myers appears on the screen and what an unsettling atmosphere, like being at a Halloween party in the Arctic when suddenly your mate says ' I'm not feeling myself..'

Still a brilliant, creepy and stomach churning piece of electronic score, an absolute classic and a treat to hear live, especially this being the Halloween weekend. In the mouth of madness finishes the short set before the 6 - piece band are back for the unsettling Prince Of Darkness and more new pieces from the Lost Themes

' Thanks for coming, drive carefully.. CHRISTINE IS OUT THERE! ' Carpenter warns us before the band rock out while ending the tight and short set. The last visual we see is The End. Obviously I'm a fan boy and loved the show, a pleasure I never thought I would experience live. Afterwards I attempt to Escape From The Victoria Warehouse as I'm all out of Bubble Gum..

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