The Comet is Coming are building up a head of steam (or perhaps photons, given their celestial leanings) through scorching gigs, which take their recorded work as a launch pad for what can only be described as block rocking, feet motivating, synapse buzzing, high walking, fast living, ever giving, cool riffing space rock jazz. They’re not just space-heads though, there’s an appealing logic to their work, presenting an appetising alternative to the traditional responses to this increasingly screwed up planet (check their manifesto).The tunes are all instrumentals but there’s a real happy vibe to much of the playing that negates the need for any kind of words – the music says it all and your feet get the message. Case in point: Do the Milky Way, an incredibly lively version early in the set really kicked things off and the side is surely the best fictional space-cadet dance since Do the Supernova.
The band created an incredibly solid sound and yet it was nimble throughout: there were heavy riffs but they were offset by a constant lightness of touch from the trio. Max Hallett, aka Betamax Killer, was the anchor for the band, a powerful, relentless and adept drummer, his beats both secured the flights and powered them onwards. He’s an eclectic drummer too, straight almost rock beats (the intro to Lightyears Explosion or March of the Rising Sun – sorry for ambiguity, note taking trumped by dancing – was a paradiddle away from morphing in to Highway Star) offset by danceable funked up grooves and rolls & fills aplenty without any nonsensical flash.
Dan Leavers, aka Danalogue the Conqueror, nominally plays synth, but there was an incredible melange of sounds emanating from his rig – throbbing bass; baroque keyboard flourishes; cosmic swoops & swirls; unidentified noises suggesting the TARDIS landing at a rave, and more. The guy sounded like Richard Wright and Dik Mik simultaneously auditioning for the Chemical Brothers. His output fleshed out the sound and provided colour and substance but was always going somewhere unexpected that was just right when he got there.
Danalogue’s sparring partner Shabaka Hutchings, aka King Shabaka, played tenor sax. Now that’s a statement akin to saying Jim Hendrix played guitar. Shabaka took the sax and the crowd on a free flight down a golden void of runs and riffs, dancing over the synth and drums, jousting with Danalogue and riding Betamax’s grooves but always avoiding the obvious, wringing notes out of his horn that were smooth and melodic; silvery and seamless. The crowd lapped up his work with rapture, their feet were smitten with Danalogue & Betamax but they lost their heart to Shabaka.
There were at least seven tunes played before the band acknowledged the crowd, Danalogue stepping stage right after New Age to thank the crowd for attending and name checking his bandmates. A refreshing change from the motormouth babbling audiences are often subjected to by charmless frontmen. Neon Baby and Space Carnival closed out the set in cosmic fashion and, like the rest of the set, both tunes were enhanced by a wickedly clear sound and the cosmic light show. A light show so sympathetic to the music it was practically the fourth member of the band (and did look remarkably like a scaled down version of the rig used by Genesis on their Seconds Out tour).
Back for the inevitable encore Danalogue made his second approach to the mic: thanks to the crowd, shout outs for his band and promises they would be at the merch for signing and chatting. One wag in the crowd suggested there’d be there for spliff too, unsurprising given the general tang from many in the crowd was more Sweet Leaf than Lynx. Stepping away he was reminded by Shabaka that he hadn’t finished: “I’ve got one more thing on my to-do list and that’s to tell you all to register to vote”. This comment raised the roof and Danalogue went on to recommend a party leader to vote for but of course in the interest of impartiality I can’t mention that he recommended Jeremy Corbyn. Neutrality also dictates that I can’t report the recommendation received a response that raised the roof a second time. The band cranked in to an epic version of Channel the Spirits as the crowd got on the good foot one last time, hands in the air, hips grooving and feet stomping throughout the final interstellar headfuck.
The Comet is Coming amazed the Fleece with their astounding sounds, they left no star unturned and blazed a new clear way through space, hatching their dreams into reality. The next time they’re back in town you should make a point of joining them; life in this country can get intense for all of us, no matter what our station in life – a night with a band like this, dancing your ass off is way out of the maze even if only for a couple of hours.
Pic by Fabrice Bourgelle
The Comet is Coming The Fleece, May 18th 2017