Coalesce. I imagine everyone reading this will have heard of them. They've been around for a long time. I actually picked up on them from their 1st 7" all those years ago in about 1994. Over the years that have followed, I've continued to buy their records and listen to them frequently. In my opinion, they are a very, very rare thing within the world of music - a band who just get better and better. Every record seems to be a step up from the one before. In my experience, most bands go the opposite way and get worse and worse to the point where they become an embarrassment. But not Coalesce. And even though Coalesce broke up several years ago, they've never really quite been able to bury the band permanently. There have been a couple of reunion shows over the past few years, and a new 7" that came out a couple of years ago. And now, in 2009, they've just put out a new album entitled "Ox". In light of this, they arranged a short European tour, which (for the first time in a LONG time) got me excited enough to actually leave my house. But that's because, in all the time they have been together, they had never actually played outside of the US. So when I went to see them last week, I was pretty damn excited about the prospect of being able to release 15 years of waiting from under my belt.
Prior to the show, I had held out on buying the new LP via mail order simply because I figured the band might have brought some kind of special tour version on the road with them. Unfortunately though, they didn't. The only version they had for sale was the regular black version. So I just figured what the heck and bought one anyway:
The packaging on this is top notch. I'm actually glad to get the black vinyl, because the overriding theme of this album seems to be black. Everything about the packaging is black, even down to the paper dust sleeve. It doesn't show up too well in the photo above, but here's a close up of the cover to show that it has some embossed pattern all over it:
Strangely, even though everything is black, the reverse of the lyric sheet has a couple of random colour photos of country life.
And because there was no tour pressing of the record, I decided to make my own souvenir, so I did what I never, ever do and got my record signed by the band:
My friend Bez thinks I am gay for getting my record signed. I've never done it before. But they way I see it, getting it signed is not about getting signatures. It's not like meeting a footballer and getting him to put his name on a piece of paper that I can wank over, or that I can sell on eBay in a few years. It's about getting a souvenir of the show, and making my LP personal to me. It makes mine different to every other one out there. The best comment was from the guitarist, Jes, who I chatted to for probably an hour and a half, and who was one of the best dudes I have ever met.
Overall, the show was good... but not great. The band were awesome. I guess it was just a bit weird because of the crowd. Being on Relapse, there were a lot of metal types in attendance who have no idea how to dance or behave. As has happened many times in the past, morons put a slight dampener on things. But the band were incredible. It was refreshing to see a band who enjoy playing as much as the crowd enjoy seeing them play. Several times the singer and guitarist jumped into the crowd. Kinda reminded me of being at shows in the early 90s. Here are a couple of photos that Bez took:
To check out Bez's photography go HERE
The other big highlight of the night was meeting Dan Askew, owner of Second Nature Records, who was on tour with the band. I've bought a lot of the stuff he's put out over the years and I used to read his zine back in the mid 90s. He was a cool guy and had a cool sense of humour. I also spent some time trying to convince him to start getting his records pressed in the States again... haha!
Overall... great record, great band, great night.