Aways Towards The Stars
Hookworms live at the Haunt

The Haunt, Brighton - 15th August 2014

It's over sixteen months since Hookworms last burst into town, unleashing a thrilling set at a sold out Green Door Store as they toured to promote their excellent debut album Pearl Mystic. There's no album on offer this time around (though expect one before the year is done) with the band upgrading to The Haunt which is nicely bustling as the Leeds five-piece take to the stage at an uncommonly early hour due to a surprise ten o'clock curfew.

Though The Haunt isn't the greatest venue when it is full, being long and thin and virtually impossible to see anything happening on stage from the back, one major advantage for Hookworms is that it is large enough to house the entire band and guitarists JW and SS are tucked either side of drummer JN whereas at The Green Door Store, both were forced to stand in amongst the audience. To be fair that really didn't work against the group, adding a new dynamic to their performance, but it's clear from the outset that Hookworms need no gimmicks to deliver a blistering live show as their opening number leaves half the crowd standing with their mouths gaping in awe.

With singer MJ having a sticker on his keybards proclaiming 'No Borders', it should really be saying 'No Boundaries' as when Hookworms hit lift off, everything is up for grabs. The Leeds quintet not only help redefine psychedelia and bury the myth that it is some relic of the sixties which can be mimicked but not developed, their music conjures up vast images of planets colliding and stars exploding, their jagged fragments hurtling through space at an impossible velocity, terrifying in its power, bewildering in its immensity.

Yet this is far from chaos; there is an order to everything they do. MJ sings as though he is ready to explode. Sometimes his vocals echo across the maelstrom in anguished howls, sometimes they come over as little more then whispers, subtle layers of sound adding to the whole, bringing beauty to the near-enveloping threat. And amid the storm the occasional dancing melody of a pretty guitar line, a flicker of light in the dark, a glimpse of blue sky on a black horizon. This is not a random blast of noise. MJ bends over one of his boxes making infinitessimal adjustments like a watchmaker, completely lost in concentration, but knowing exactly how his music should be sounding and honing it to perfection. Craft not anarchy; and it is all the more impressive for being so.

It's fantastic to see a band so immersed in what they do. Guitars spend most of the gig little more than eighteen inches above the ground; JW and SS must walk with permanent stoops. Resolutely upright bassist MB is a picture of calm and at one stage becomes the third vocalist; all three voices together are no more than a gathering of shadows. Drummer JN simply keeps time on Armageddon. Mesmerising stuff.

Hookworms are an astonishing live band. That they exist and continue to prosper is a boon for our age and if you have never seen them, move heaven and earth to do so. Absolutely devastating ... and the third band in recent times to proclaim Brighton their favourite place to play in the entire country. We must be doing something right; Hookworms are doing everything right. A marriage made in the cosmos.


Words Adam, Pics Gary

Hookworms live at The Haunt
Reviews Jan-Mar 2014
An Interview with The Fauns
Reviews April-June 2014
Camden Crawl 2014
Pete Fij & Terry Bickers live in Worthing
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