The former Ultravox frontman and synth legend played an intimate gig in Shoreditch last month – unfortunately I was ill, and missed it. But wild horses couldn’t keep my old chum Paul Wady from the Foxx…
It’s October 27th and, down in the dark depths of Old Street’s XoYo club, electronic music pioneer John Foxx and numerous support bands have come to manifest the power of the synthesizer. I can’t comment on the support, having run to the smoking gallery, to be, quite by chance, reunited with my cousin. My loss.
Showing uncommon vigour and enthusiasm, John delivered his set with aplomb. Perhaps he was spurred on by Hannah Peel’s use of the violin on Plaza and No-One Driving – a perfect substitute for the trickiest keyboard work you could face on stage.
The Maths now consist of Benge at the back on drums, Hannah and Serafina Steer either side of John on keyboards, bass guitar and strings. A compact unit that, for some reason, sounds better than any previous mutation. Benge whipped out his laptop to give us many, but not all, of the original track recordings for the likes of Underpass, the final song (surprise) which we die-hard purists could never tolerate without exactly the same strobed white-noise at the precise tempo.
This is something of a lesson about Foxx fans. Challenged with reproducing uniquely formatted and aligned elements of often pure-electronica, what can you do live but use recordings? John and the Maths made a grand job of bringing a third dimension to their sound, and their efforts were enjoyed. The venue’s incredible sound system certainly helped.
Everything from the Maths first album was played, plus Dislocation (surely the foundation song for the ensuing Metamatic solo-album) and of course, the gems. Plaza, He’s a Liquid, Burning car and that-Foxx-song-at-the-end (guess), reaffirmed my faith, once again. The inclusion of the violin-haunted Hiroshima Mon Amour was a nice touch, and Hannah’s raucous pitch-wheel synth was a perfect, raw machine addition. Exactly what I would have done, obviously.
Foxx seems reborn now, yet an elder-statesman of Ballardian beauty and dynamic integrity. His ambient stories, artwork – see thequietman.co.uk – and new music define him, to those of us who know, as the UK’s more versatile Brian Eno. And the audience was not entirely made up of old fanatics, like me. A healthy influx of a new generation have plugged themselves in to his unique synthetic vision. Bravo, Foxxy.