The Black Sheep, the anarchist and revolutionary collective fronted by Julian Cope, play their first show in Bristol, a mixed media event featuring artwork, films and music. An eclectic crowd have turned up which suits the varied styling of the group and being what looked like the second youngest person there I almost felt an irrational sense of failure to my age demographic for looking so square.
On the walls of The Croft, portraits of various influential characters from the past century or so have been hung, painted with just silver on black by the talented Black Sheep artist Mark Hebblewhite. Stand out paintings included Joe Strummer, Patti Smith, Emily Pankhurst, a quite unnerving picture of Jim Morrison that almost feels like he’s watching you no matter where you hide and, my personal favourite, a very world-weary looking Albert Einstein.
The first act to take the stage is the Black Sheep Electronic Division who create layer upon layer of droning synth that feels brain meltingly loud. I don’t know if it’s because I’m missing something, on the wrong kind of drugs or just not in the right frame of mind but after a couple of minutes the incessant sounds just melt into a sludge of noise with no sense of direction or aim. Following on from this onslaught is Christophe F. who delivers a welcome set of acoustic protest songs with a good dose of humour and sarcastic wit thrown in. His songs really stand out however when being backed by Acoustika and Michael O’Sullivan who’s fantastic vocal harmonies, keyboard and guitar really add to the songs and give them a much fuller sound.
After another session of electronic drudgery, Acoustika takes to deliver a set of introspective acoustic songs, which in the hands of lesser musicians could easily bore. Luckily for us, Acoustika’s strong voice and good sense of tune carries the set which almost feels too short. After this it’s back to the Electronic Division to end a night that while musically was very hit and miss, never failed to be interesting..