Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Pulled Apart By Horses / The Computers @ HMV Institute, Monday 20th February
In 1781Túpac Amaru II, leader of a Peruvian uprising against the Spanish, was sentenced to death. The chosen method of execution? To be 'pulled apart by horses'. It failed by the way, they ended up decapitating him, a fate that nearly befell several members of the audience this evening for altogether more pleasant reasons (if there can be a more pleasant reason for decapitation). Yes, tonight was one of those joyful gigs when a sizable number of the crowd decide to lose all sense of reason and thrash about like that head spinning girl in the Exorcist. The cause of all this insanity was one of the more explosive bills on the tour circuit at the moment, The Computers and Pulled Apart By Horses, a double dose of mentalness that frequently threatens to separate your ears from the rest of your body.
Like that big metal mallet thing that chefs use to tenderise meat The Computers begin the assault with their radical reboot of the rock n’roll dream (a neat version of Surfin’ Bird neatly makes the connection for anyone in any doubt). Now with added keyboards, bringing a touch of Jerry Lee to proceedings, lead singer Alex and his band of merry mental men (dressed as ever in their distinctive all white outfits) goad the Monday night audience into action, swiftly whipping up a mini mosh pit at the front. “We’re going to get you turgid and stiff and ready to rock with Pulled Apart By Horses” screamed Alex, part punk rocker, part demented southern preacher. An incendiary rage through their biggest track to date, Teenage Tourette’s Camp, ensures that it’s mission accomplished. Variously balancing on the barrier at the front of the stage, precariously perched on top of the organ or seemingly floating above the crowd on a sea of sweat drenched hands, he’s the perfect frontman and when he divides the crowd into two halves before initiating a mass mosh off the ensuing mayhem sees blood spilt and bones jarred to within an inch of fracture. Showcasing an album knocked into shape with the help of their musical hero Mr John Reiss (aka Rocket From The Crypt’s Speedo) and honed by an impressive number of live shows The Computers are at the top of their game right now.
Suitably battered and bruised (literally in some cases, I helped one dude drag the remains of his leg outside to recover) Pulled Apart By Horses crank the volume up to 11...then go one louder. LOUD YOU SAY? YOU WANT LOUD? COP A LOUD OF THIS YOU MUTHAS! It’s the vocals that really get you. Each blast a fresh assault on bloodied eardrums. Kicking off with I Punched A Lion In The Throat (I daresay the lion was too deafened to care by this point) the mosh pit exploded into life and didn’t relent for the whole gig, occasionally disgorging its victims, dead eyed, sweat drenched souls who looked on the edge of death. That’s the point though. This isn’t just music to listen to, it’s music to feel...in your ears, eyes, throat and vital organs...it’s the soundtrack to an explosion of energy, anger, excitement, fear, friendship and hate. It’s the noise you hear in your nightmares and dreams and, for the impressive number of pitters, it could just have been the night of their lives.
As the sonic assault rolled on we got a touching glimpse into life offstage. Lead singer Tom’s a Brummie and they’d all been round to his mum’s for a Sunday roast. Awwww bless. Just as we were seeing them as nice, quiet boys he followed it up with an admission that they’d then gone out on the lash until 4am. Now that’s more like it. Four years into their existence and with a new album that’s (by their own admission) several furlongs ahead of their first there’s some impressive musicianship going on, with some surprisingly complex sounding guitar bits buried deep beneath the noise. The album’s standout track, the demonically explosive V.E.N.O.M, sent the pit of shredded bodies into a fresh wave of flailing, a forlorn looking ‘Do Not Crowdsurf’ poster pinned to a wall looking increasingly ridiculous as a merry go round of soaking wet teens flew over the barriers into the waiting arms of security...only to repeat the whole journey moments later. With a fine mist of sweat now hanging over the audience and a cougar’s wet dream of bare-chested young men on the edge of melting Tom was carried deep into the pit. Amazingly he made it out alive to finish the set. As the encore faded (don’t ask me what it was...I was quite deaf by then) guitarist James literally dived in and was never seen again. I guess it’s what he would’ve wanted.
Easy listening it ain’t, and be prepared to lose your hearing/limbs/lunch, but for sheer raw energy and giving it 100%, Pulled Apart By Horses are simply a breed apart.