Vennart – Target: ’15
Rarely do I get as excited about the postman as when I do ordering new music. While I’m not into vinyl, I’m too far down the CD rabbit hole to jump ship, I still covet having physical items. I have a childlike response when an innocuous white envelope arrives in the post with my name on it. There is something about knowing that inside there is new music, new experiences waiting to be undertaken or shared.
Recently I had a parcel arrive which I didn’t remember ordering, it had been a while since I’d ordered something… hadn’t it?
Vennart – Target: ’15 was the wonder hiding away behind the white plastic. A DVD and CD combo, live recordings from the Arctangent festival in 2015. As an added bonus, not only did it include the Vennart live concert, it included some extra songs from random shows. Oh, and it also included a full-length British Theatre set from the same festival.
If you’ve been to my site or read any of my writing before you will probably know that I love Oceansize. They are a band who on each listen find new ways to impress me. Vennart’s live lineup is three-fifths of Oceansize, with Steve Durose and Gambler performing bass, keys and guitars live. On drums is a man seemingly only known as “Denzel”, he has the chops to play Oceansize songs and perfectly complements the ensemble.
I’ve primarily written about the CD recorded Live at Arctangent Festival here, though most of the comments are equally applicable to the DVD performance.
On first listen I was nervous. So very worried that despite best intentions, the magic wouldn’t be there. It only takes the first minute of the colossal ‘255’ to realise that the magic is not only there, these songs are so much better live. They grow an extra limb or two, be it buoyed by the live audience or the difference in having interplay between long time collaborators. It doesn’t matter why. All that matters is the songs sound fantastic.
From ‘255’ we head to Doubt, a song with one of my favourite lyrics in recent memory “It’s not a game the way you play”. Couldn’t tell you why, but I adore that lyric.
Between the tracks you can hear Mike Vennart living out his rock and roll wishlist, playing the odd Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath riff. Beckoning the crowd to join in, there is an evident sense of fun in performing these songs to a live audience. Steve Durose singing part of the verse in Operate is also a special moment, it feels like some sort of Oceansize closure. Musicians who enjoy playing together, playing together.
One of the loudest roars of the evening is reserved for the first chord of Oceansize classic “Music for a Nurse”. Dedicated to the organisers of the festival, it’s not often that a song nearly nine minutes in length is a crowd favourite. In this instance, it clearly still is, after ten years.
The two Oceansize songs performed could not be more different, in stark contrast to ‘Music for a Nurse’ we have ‘Build Us a Rocket Then…’. Taken from the last Oceansize record ‘BUaRT…’ is a relative dive into chaos, with unusual time signatures and dissonant guitars and Vennart’s vocals running in top gear.
CD Track listing (Live at Arctangent Festival):
- Don’t Forget the Joker
- Music for a Nurse (Oceansize)
- Duke Fame
- A Weight in the Hollow
- Build Us a Rocket Then…. (Oceansize)
DVD – Live at LONDON BUSH HALL
- Don’t Forget The Joker
- Music For A Nurse
- Duke Fame
- Build Us A Rocket Then…
- Only Twin
- Big Ship (feat. Kavus Torabi)
Part two of this DVD set is the Gambler show, AKA, British Theatre.
Gambler, Vennart and Denzel remain from the Vennart lineup, electronic components make up the fourth member of the band. Some tracks see Vennart ditch the guitar for the first time I’ve seen and sing.
The British Theatre tracks don’t translate to the live setting as well as the Vennart tracks. While the musicians are there the subtlety and nuance that are the highlights of the album are missing live. While it is still nice to see some of the tracks performed live, I would have liked to have seen some extra instrumentation added, or stripped away.
BRITISH THEATRE LIVE AT ARCTANGENT FESTIVAL
- Gold Bruise
- Blue Horror
- The Cull
- Cross The Swords
- Favour The Brave
As far as an experiment goes, it is fantastic that there is evidence of a live British Theatre concert. The songs are as good as they were on the album, but they don’t gain that extra leg that the Vennart songs did. Gold Bruise remains a damn good song.
As an extra bonus, there are a few other Oceansize tracks that were recorded and included on the DVD. One of these is possibly my favourite Oceansize track, The Frame. Though please, please don’t make me choose a favourite.
I’d love to include the footage of The Frame here, but you’ll just have to buy the DVD.