Making their first visit to the Big Smoke, those most inglorious sons of mythic Sheffield suburb Valhalla Dale, The Moonlandingz, have already made a big impression on the airwaves, with the track Sweet Saturn Mine getting heavy rotation on BBC 6 Music, and they’ve also drawn the admiration of Sean Lennon (yes, that Sean Lennon).
Actually a collaboration between the South Yorkshire based Eccentronic Research Council and members of South London’s Fat White Family, The Moonlandingz (with their charismatic lead singer, Johnny Rocket) were originally conceived as small town indie band royalty and the object of stalkerish obsession on Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine… I’m Your Biggest Fan, the ERC’s blackly humorous album that once again engages the talents of actor Maxine Peake. Already featuring the Fat White’s Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski on the album, the tracks attributed to “The Moonlandingz” were expanded for an eponymous EP, before they finally broke the fourth wall (in a musical sense) and went on tour. As the Eccentronic Research Council’s Adrian Flanagan explained in an interview for the Lexington’s blog, “the reason I wanted to create an actual band… was to give the ERC album that extra depth, I wanted to get real fans and real stalkers for the fictional band and by some cruel twist of fate that has now happened, we are now the hottest ticket in town.”
And a hot ticket they were indeed, as the Lexington was pretty much at capacity even during the support band slot, more than capably filled by Abjects, who won a few admirers with their 60s garage infused sound.
With a brief, if abstract, introduction by the Fat White Family’s usual compère without compare, Patrick Lyons, The Moonlandingz appeared for the penultimate night of their North By North South tour. With the stage flanked by the vintage synths of Dean Honer and Adrian Flanagan, backed by a rhythm section of famed producer Ross Orton on drums and Mairead O’Connor on bass, Saul Adamczewski got things underway with the spidery guitar intro to Psyche Ersatz. Centre stage in a black leather waistcoat and cartoonish makeup, Lias Saoudi basically was Johnny Rocket, even down to a pseudo-Sheffield accent.
An early showing for a rampant Sweet Saturn Mine got the moshpit into full swing (not that people needed any encouragement), with arms outstretched to a prowling Saoudi (or should that be Rocket?) – part adulation, as the narrative of the album comes to life, and partly to try and drag him into the mass of bodies (I spotted a wryly smiling Flanagan taking a photo of the mayhem on his phone).
Lias Saoudi was actually ideally cast as the titular (anti)hero, if you’ve ever caught the Fat White Family live before – like a young Mick Jagger in his satanic majesty or, more particularly, Iggy Pop, marking his territory at the front of the stage and, like Pop, not averse to getting up close and personal with the audience.
Lay Your Head Down On The Road also made an appearance, sounding much fuller live with a full band to flesh it out. Of the new songs, there appeared to be a surprisingly twangy country number, and a song about rabies (but of course).
A furiously paced run through of Man In Me Lyfe to close the set prompted a fair bit of crowd surfing (by, from the looks of it and whilst dodging the odd flailing foot, some people old enough to know better) before The Moonlandingz headed off stage. There were calls for one more song but hey, fictional bands don’t do encores, okay?
The Moonlandingz as a live prospect certainly put the sweaty into meta, and with a new EP coming out on Sean Lennon’s own label in the next couple of months, chances are we haven’t seen the last of Johnny Rocket.
- The Eccentronic Research Council at Village Underground: Live Review
- Nadine Shah at the Lexington: Live Review
- Kingsley Chapman and The Murder at the Sebright Arms: Live Review
- Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at Shepherd’s Bush Empire: Live Review
- The Horn The Hunt introduce the video for Starless