I’ve touched on music culture in previous blogs – specifically in My in-group – and the power of music to bring people together. In fact the thousands of diverse shards of music cultures and genres are so ingrained in our personal identities that it makes me wonder how anybody defined themselves before the ’50s. Personally, I’d probably describe myself as a Bowie and electro / techno punk with a bit of Eno and Biosphere ambient for the quiet times. There must be some PhDs out there on the subject of music, culture and identity. I must do more research.
Last weekend was the first time I’d heard the description Dead Army in a tweet by my brother-in-law, Mick, to describe fans of Thee Deadtime Philharmonic. The band were playing in Derby and, being the closest city to the their home, it was a bit of a ‘homecoming’ gig to show off their new songs as well as old favs from Estate of the Heart. Deadtime currently have around 800 Twitter followers (with more on other social media) and there is a hardcore who probably mention the band in tweets every couple of days. We were looking forward to the gig.
Unfortunately the weather had been ‘biblical’ leading up to it causing severe flooding and major disruption in the town and beyond. Several folk who had anticipated attending the gig succumbed to floods and illness, but there was still a fantastic togetherness in the Hairy Dog that night. People managed to get there by hook, crook and lifeboat from Sheffield, Manchester, north-west Wales, Humberside and elsewhere.
One of aspects about social media; groups, ‘friends’, ‘likes’ (and the like), is that it operates in a parallel universe. So last Saturday there were slightly surreal conversations between folk who know each other only by their online profiles: ‘Are you Dead Doll Music? Great to meet you, I’m Oldenuff2knowbetta’. But we all felt the love for Deadtime and it was as if we’d always known each other. Music brings people together.
Thee Deadtime Philharmonic is a band that should be playing to thousands up and down the country. I’m biased, I know, but there isn’t a single song of theirs that could in any way be labelled as filler. As always they were brilliant live too, and I was amazed by the positive reaction to the three new songs they played on Saturday bearing in mind no-one in the audience had heard them before.
The AA-single Testify (Dues Paid in Full) / Hardlines isn’t due to be released until early next year but a limited number of promo copies of the CD are available here. Both songs share the Deadtime DNA of lyrics close to songwriter Murdoch’s heart with Testify propelled by the addition of a driving Korg bass. “The boy or the beast in me, which one do you want to feed?” asks Murdoch. Hardlines is a burner, building to a crescendo after five minutes of current social observation – ‘they’re playing with your life mate, the state’s got you in a right state’. No-one can disagree.
This Friday the band head to the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts in Stowmarket. I think that’s apt really, and I have little doubt that in a different era Deadtime would have been a staple to be played between 10pm – midnight, Radio 1, Monday to Thursday.
The Dead Army is currently relatively small but this band has the tunes, musicianship and passion to make it a very large group indeed.
That would be be a very good thing. We need Thee Deadtime Philharmonic’s music more than ever to bring people together.