The Ninth Wave
Final London Gig
Hurriedly jangling a seized bicycle lock kept in an, exposed to the elements parking pod, a dark and shadowy figure extended over me, eerily backlit by street lamps from the entrance. A faceless neighbour witnessing my struggle casts a most peculiar salutation at me, ‘stay-lucky’. Avoiding the ominous and thinly veiled threat, rather than greeting, I escape unscathed, churning my way towards Hackney Central’s Oslo. Fortune shines on me twice, as I’ve scored access to catch (take a deep breath for this mouthful) Glaswegian doom-laden, gothic post-punk and electronic-pop group The Ninth Wave’s last London gig. The handful of dates are promoting their freshly released Ready Like a Headache on Distiller Records.
Initially formed in 2014, The Ninth Wave have expanded to become Haydn Park-Patterson (vocals/guitar), Amilia Kidd (vocals/bass), Kyalo Searle-nbullu (keyboards/synths) and Calum Stewart (drums/synth). You might be thinking, ‘hey I’ve never (only just) heard of this amazing troupe, I’d love to catch ‘em live’. ‘Ah, tough luck Kemosabe’, we’d say, because by the time this review’s gone live, it would already be too late to do so again. The aforementioned are now on an indefinite hiatus pursuing other creative projects. Though the collective uncoupling may seem premature to some, TNW have been around for the better part of a decade. With a string of EPs, a wide range of tours, and judging by their fan base (bands like Chvrches included), a dedicated lot who know their lyrics backwards and forwards, sung them back throughout the gig. This former group of androgynous pirates turned gothic-streetwear band has accomplished a lot in a short span. Burn bright, burn fast.
Don’t let the descriptors pigeonhole TNW, they sounded light and fresh showcasing new tunes, lyrics and radiating energy of a band recently formed rather than coming undone, all night long. The sense I got from both their catalogue and set this evening is that it captured the ‘80s as a decade in the same vein that Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir Part 1&2 marvelously framed it, with a gentle balance between dark and mellow, weightless and weighted. Speaking of the best of the ‘80s I got distinct pings from Depeche Mode , New Order, Duran Duran, Psychedelic Furs and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Notable cuts from the setlist included ‘Heron on the Water’, a new cut which slapped, ‘Come Down Forever’, and ‘The Broken Design’, a crowd favourite felt like it was written just to sing to/for a crowd.
The set, like the crowd, was a mixed bag tonight. The far-reaching audience appeal is a testament to the band’s talent which goes far beneath the surface. That being said, why go to a gig to just listen? Picture this: A topless and tattooed Hayden Park Patterson wailing both at guitar and into microphone. Kyalo from behind the wall of pedals and keys used dually to entertain and reinforce his position on stage. An ‘I’m Okay With Failure’ sticker plastered on a keyboard is as comforting as it is sage advice. No barrier is left overcome as Calum hammers on the drums in runner’s shorts and football jersey. Perhaps deadliest of all is Amilia, unrecognizable from her debut with TNW. A few years back she’d never even been on a stage and was, in her own words, overwhelmed by the idea of playing large festivals. This former version of herself is unrecognizable today, with a propensity for jumping into the crowd and accosting a number of fans before returning to stage with gleaming eyes full of mischief. ‘Don’t sue me’ leaves her lips before pounding at her bass again on a roving mission across stage accosting her bandmates with equal furore.
I remember walking in here tonight uncertain of what would unfold. Shortly after my arrival, Park-Patterson, cloaked in shadow, was prowling the fringes of the space. Nerves? Reconnaissance? Maybe looking for a snack? Who knows? He largely remained unnoticed. He slipped between the crowd and shadows the way a thin blade would along the 3rd and 4th ribs, minimal intrusion, maximum effect. Any burrs left along the blade 8 years ago, had long been smoothed over, leaving The Ninth Waves with a fine edge and an even smoother live experience. It’s hard to believe this was their (supposedly) last performance, judging from the energy coming off the crowd and from the band. Sideways grins and songs were tossed as easily between all, as were instruments, with practised precision and grace. The scene I’d witnessed had less a requiem feel to it than a full-on Irish wake. The Ninth Wave did not go quietly into the night any more than a fireworks display would have. They were explosive and left a deafened and stunned audience in their wake. The show really felt like a ‘See ya later’ instead of a ‘Goodbye’.