The Comet Is ComingBam!Bam!Bam! @ 24 Kitchen Street 19/5/17
One month before the solstice, and on the same summer evening that bottle green vintage double-decker buses are orbiting the city, THE COMET IS COMING descend like a fireball into 24 Kitchen Street, dragging with them their tail of sparks and a vision for the future. Their descent reverberates off the white brick walls and the physicality of the human beings beating inside of this packed house manifests itself in an explosion of jazz, electronica, funk and psychedelic rock. The futurist trio are London-based, but grounding them in the limited geographical locale of our capital city is beside the point; the songs found on their album Channel The Spirits heavily reference their stargazing intent, with titles such as Journey Through the Asteroid Belt, Light Years and Cosmic Dust.
The band appear on the low set stage as if from three different musical dimensions: the longhaired space cowboy Betamax Killer, on drums, straddles the genres and holds the sonic universe together; Danalogue The Conqueror, the most vocal of the band, relentlessly rocks back and forth at his Roland synthesiser pulpit in a black waterproof hoodie, the urban wizard of electronica; the final star in this configuration, saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, stands tall and soulful in baggy harem pants and a smile that’s broad enough to illuminate this coordinate of the Baltic region all by itself. It’s hard to keep your eyes off Hutchings in particular, and impossible to keep still. The atmosphere undulates to the waves of sultry tones emanating from his sax in long solos, before he allows his sound to mutate with the repetitive house rhythm of his crew.
The band have come together spontaneously from different projects and are often referred to as the rightful heirs to Sun Ra’s throne. There’s an unrelenting energy to their power that sees them live up to this claim. The crowd demands two encores, and it feels like they belong to something powerful yet uncaptured by any of the controlling forces inhabiting this space-time continuum; they are a free, pounding, dub-throbbing, boisterous rabble of sound; and sometimes, when you’ve been pounded enough, they smooth you down in raptures of a solo saxophone before energising you with a slew of jazz, Afrobeat and electronica. It is both freeform and unifying, and the air-punching crowd can’t get enough. As close to the spirit of a Space Carnival as you could imagine.
The Comet Is Coming seem to capture something of that 80s sci-fi horror mood: it would be no surprise to see Sarah Connor wandering through the crowd here at Kitchen Street, such is their fierce adherence to the myth they’ve created. But this is a time when we need new icons. The Comet Is Coming come with a manifesto heralding their call to reorder the cosmos that states: “Death to the world as we know it. Death to preconceived notions of truth. Death to the crumbling ruins of an empire surviving from outdated concepts of hierarchy.”
True believers are advised to catch them on their next visit to planet earth. Start running.