Unbelievable as it is, EMF are back on tour in 2024 to promote the legendary 90s band’s latest album The Beauty And The Chaos, which dropped on Friday 19th January on EMF Records and produced with Ralph Jezzard at the controls once more.
EMF @ The Garage
I arrived at an icy cold The Garage in time to catch the tail end of Funke And The Two Tone Baby’s opening set, he is a one man band who, like Tash Sultana, builds his tracks with loops and triggers onstage, developing a sonic wall for Stop The Music that had a mix of Hip Hop and electronic dance music with a slight blues edge and a massive groove that grabbed my attention immediately.
He closed his set with Not Enough Bonobo, a quite amazingly bonkers song that was built around three or four loops, mad vocals with a brilliant call and response part where he got almost everyone in The Garage to shout “too much chimpanzee” on demand, as he really had won over anyone who arrived early enough to see him.
Next on were the Manchester based duo The Dirt who are Sachiko Wakizaka on guitars, loops and effects, and little Jack Horner on vocals. They opened their set in a hail of looped guitar figures, as Jack gave us the band’s own Two Page Manifesto, letting us know just how disgusted they are with the state of the world. Power Junkies was full of anger and bile for the megalomaniacs seeking to rule the world, as Jack bounced around the stage ferociously making his point.
Sachiko’s shoegaze style loops built carefully on DBL as Horner started to remind me of actor Stephen Walters’ character in The 51st State, although with very different political views.
Jack introduced himself as being Leon the pig farmer before Rant Two exploded with invective at the awful state of everything. Crying Out Loud had some very intense guitar loops as Sachiko built an ever-bigger wall of noise that allowed Horner to explain how much they buy into being totally multi-cultural. Voting Booth made clear how much they want rid of the Tories, no matter how bad the alternative may be, the Tories must go. This led into The Dirt’s climactic Outro that closed a great support set.
EMF, who I first saw playing at The Garage back in the early 90’s when I went hoping to hear the band’s version of Search & Destroy, were led on stage by drummer Aid Todd and bassman Stevey Marsh who has taken over from the late great Zac Foley. The rhythm section started their launch into Children from Schubert Dip as the rest of the band came on and exploded with energy, James Atkins pulling at his woolly hat with a trademark cheeky grin on his face.
Long Summer Days has some great spiky guitar from Ian Dench who was rocking his Sesame Street jumper, as the first blast of electronic madness was added by Derry Brownson who was triggering all sorts of stuff from his bank of keyboards and gadgets. Lies kept the early hits coming as James looked ecstatic that they were still here and playing for us.
After James had yelled Ecstasy Mother Fuckers a couple of times he told us all that the next song was off the new album, The Beauty And The Chaos as Read The Room let rip at someone with a somewhat nasty personality, the music remained upbeat and happy as everyone danced along with them.
They went back to Stigma for Getting Through, that seemed totally driven by Aid and Derry’s antics as Ian’s guitar got crunchier. They then pumped out a supurb rendition of Sister Sandinista, the only song tfrom last year’s Go Go Sapiens aired tonight, the tune good and bouncy. James then said hello to the bands travelling Mexican fan club as he dedicated new song The Day The Music Died to them,Ian hitting all sorts of effects on his guitar to add to the madness onstage.
Inside was about as reflective as they got, even if James couldn’t help but throw in a few more Ecstasy Mother Fuckers just in case anyone still believed they really were the Epsom Mad Funkers. They brought their tribute to the rave gods Reach For The Lasers to life, as they all jumped around with James singing his list of rave greats from Richie Hawtin to Lisa Loud and on to the king of it all Andrew Wetherall.
They’re Here had some totally outer space alien guitar from The Dench who had been grinning from ear to ear all set. Current single Hello People went down a storm, and as James sang “it’s time to meet you”, it seemed totally heartfelt. As this song quickly worms its way into your head, we all liked EMF as much as they liked us. They stayed with the new album for Stardust as they headed for the stratosphere once more with a brilliant rave rock anthem.
James really didn’t need to introduce Unbelievable as The Garage erupted and everyone joined in with lots of fun had with the audience singing the chorus before the band etc. as the things you say are still to this day Unbelievable, as Derry kept hitting the button that triggered the Unbelievable sample regularly for the rest of the set.
How do you follow your biggest hit, well with a cover of another immense classic as their version of the Robert Wyatt/Monkees classic I’m A Believer that they totally make there own, in a hail of rave rock dynamite that was brilliant fun. Before they closed the set with I Believe that made crystal clear how much Ecstasy they loved to consume while loving partying and having fun with us all.
It didn’t take too much to bring them back for a much-deserved encore that opened with a brilliant re-working of Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough that broke down and included the second or third lot of band intros for the evening, but no one cared, we were all having too much fun with the Ecstasy Mother Fuckers who nailed there theme tune EMF to the walls of The Garage to complete a brilliant fun upbeat set that left everyone smiling.
Live review of EMF, The Dirt and Funke & The Two Tone Baby @ The Garage, London on 20th January 2024 by Simon Phillips. Photography by Louise Phillips.