Poly-Math / Big Lad / Kylie Monologue

Signature Brew, Blackhorse Road, London
Saturday, 20th April 2024

For once in this Biblically wet year, a dry and even occasionally sunny day precedes another trip to the capital for me, where I meet up with my gig-going companion and go for some satisfying Turkish sustenance prior to this evening’s entertainment.

Signature Brew swaps its day job as a brewery for its nighttime disguise as a rather fine music venue. I have no doubt that the beats from tonight’s music have enhanced the brewing process.


Kylie Monologue at Signature Brew, London

Not wanting to rush our Turkish culinary delights, we arrived late for this set of wonky electronica, Kylie assisted by Jason DinDisc (I remember that label!) wearing a huge ping pong ball on his head Residents fashion and supplying the incidental sounds between songs. The melodic and adventurous sounds from Kylie conjure a likeable and danceable groove that gets the audience nicely loose.

I wish we had heard more, as the music they make is quite hip swayingly rhythmic, but not noisy, in complete contrast to the next act!

The Person You Were No Longer Exists
Banners of My Own Choosing
The Body Keeps the Score
Kylie Monologue – Synths, Laptop
Jason DinDisc – Incidental Sounds

LINKS: Facebook | Bandcamp


Big Lad at Signature Brew, London

“They are somewhere in there!”

Accurately describing themselves as a “Two-headed Drum Trigger Noise Party Machine”, this lot make a banging racket that will give your horses coronaries. Set up in front of the stage on a rug, Henri Grimes behind a massive drum kit, and facing him, Wayne Adams in front of a synth rig, two things become apparent when they commence their rowdy rabble rousing.

One, as they are set up on the floor, surrounded by the moshing crowd, it seems by choice rather than to reduce change over time for the headline act, unless you were a part of the up close and personal vigorous mosh pit, you couldn’t see a thing. But my word you could hear it!

Two, as my companion and I racked our noggins to come up with who they reminded us of, eventually the answer is dredged from grudging synapses. What Big Lad are is a 21st century Sigue Sigue Sputnik, on steroids! For all we knew, they may even have had the haircuts (they didn’t).

On the rare occasions when the synth melodies could be heard above the pummelling drums, it worked, especially on Eating Food And Fighting Wizards (fab track title, chaps!), although the majority younger contingent obviously loved all of it.

Big Juggernaut Rave Party
Monster Jam
Debbie Harry Wet Dream
Self Care Is Cancelled
Hi Octane Party Banger
Eating Food And Fighting Wizards
Prince On Crack
Dave Aoki
Wayne Adams – Synths
Henri Grimes – Drums

LINKS: Facebook | Bandcamp | X


Poly-Math at Signature Brew, London

The first time I saw this compelling and thunderous combo was at A Sunday In September last year, where they made an instant impression and indeed turned out to be my favourite act of the day. That was also the first time I had heard of them. Inevitably, they have now been going ten years, as is the way with these things. There’s so much music out there, some will inevitably slip under the radar, but boy am I glad I know them now!

Joe Branton Poly-Math at Signature Brew, London

In my head full of ancient cultural references they seem to form a progression that starts with Red era Crimson, and passes through 90s heavy prog maestros Anekdoten. Bass player and frontman Joe Branton had not heard of Anekdoten and tells me he will give them a listen. I think he will recognise the lineage! There’s even a track in the setlist called simply “Fripp”, which I am told will be known as Proavus by the time it appears on the new album, entitled Something Deeply Hidden. “Fripp” is so called because it uses his New Standard Tuning, so the starting point is there for all to see. Not that any of this is derivative, oh no, for Poly-Math have their own easily recognisable sound that takes its influences and pins them against the wall with a wild eyed enthusiasm that gets this audience bopping along to the convoluted time signatures. It seems at some points that different instruments go off on their own pounding rhythmic journeys, only to converge at a prearranged point at 100mph. A freight train points switch from the Hades signal box!

Joe Branton Poly-Math at Signature Brew, London

There was a lot of hair being flung about vigorously among the mostly under 50 audience, even among the male contingent, which gives you an idea of the average age of the crowd this old codger was standing in, as usually us blokes in there barely have enough hair between us to make a threadbare wig. 🙂 It is good to see that a prog-adjacent band like Poly-Math fit in perfectly with the other bands on this bill, who between them attract a far more youthful audience than an out and out prog line up could hope to attract. It is pleasing to witness an increasing number of younger gig goers at gigs like this these days, especially given the cash strapped times we are living in. There is hope for the future!

Poly-Math at Signature Brew, London

Not being that familiar with the tunes Poly-Math were belting out with gusto, this being only the second time I gave seen them, it is not possible to point out highlights, but I can tell you that the whole set was being enjoyed as much by the band as it was by the crowd. I have had their last album, 2022’s Zenith on repeat since the gig in order that I know at least some of this fab gear inside out the next time! The first time I saw them they included a sax player, then playing his last gig with the band. Suffice to say they do not miss the reeds at all, as I was worried they might (see my review of the Sunday In September appearance HERE). Musical variety is still here in abundance, and there is enough energy coming off the stage tonight to power a small town!

Undemonstrative left handed guitarist Tim Walters may not draw your attention like the never still Joe, but boy does his right hand cover some ground on the fretboard, dazzling us with his fretwork in nonchalant fashion. We were told that keyboard player Josh Gesner had his synth and all his clothes stolen on the way to Brighton to meet the rest of the band and had to program all his parts into the replacement instrument the day before the gig! Rest assured Josh, no-one in the audience noticed, such was the apparently seamless transfer to the new instrument. A true pro, as Joe called him!

Timothy Walters  & Joshua Gesner Poly-Math at Signature Brew, London

Keeping up with, and perhaps in places nailing down Joe’s frantic bass antics, drummer Chris Woollison is the just sort of unfussy sticksman you need in a time signature shifting band like this, and when the spotlight occasionally falls on him his thunderous joy-in-rhythm comes into its own.

Chris Woollison at Signature Brew, London

The encore, Medicine, described beforehand by Joe as “a ten-minute epic condensed into one and half minutes” in order to keep to the already stretched stage timings, was exactly that, and shows the infectious spirit and humour of this fine band shining through.

Poly-Math are a band that many of you have probably not heard, but you need to, and I have no doubt that when you do, especially in a live context, you will be as thoroughly hooked as I am. Read the last album review HERE.

Something Deeply Hidden Pt.2
Castro Pt.2
~ Encore:

Joe Branton – Bass Guitar
Joshua Gesner – Keyboards
Timothy Walters – Guitars
Chris Woollison – Drums

LINKSWebsite | Facebook | Bandcamp | X

[Photos: Roger Trenwith & Rosamund Tomlins]

Footnote – The gig then continues into the small hours, but catching my last train homewards, which I managed by the skin of my teeth, meant a swift(ish) exit after Poly-Math. Apologies to A’Bear, whom I missed entirely as a result.