Post-Punk Double Bill North American Bliss From Chameleons Vox + Theatre Of Hate Imminent

Two great bands that taste great together…

I have been remiss in my duties with all of the hoopla of recent weeks. I’ve already sent the info to my friend Echorich to his delight, but there may be some other eyes who read this blog who would be interested in this one. I know, that I’d go if I had half a chance! With several gently probing US tours by Chameleons Vox in recent years, 2019 seems to be the year it gets very real as Mark Burgess and his band are mounting a reasonably large North American tour that is well matched with Theatre Of Hate! If you click through to the TOH website, the home page shows that their current UK tour has Derek Forbes + the Dark (?) opening so you know we need to investigate further!

Chameleons Vox live

I was an immediate convert to the sound of Chameleons as to these ears they proffered a tougher take on the kind of guitar-based New Wave that U2 were selling back at the same time; albeit with none of the many downsides to my ears. When synthpop was having its big day in the sun, this was what we listened to for detox purposes! I bought the very compromised US edition of their debut and later bought the “Strange Times” album on LP. Only to trade them off when imagining the CDs of them I’d one day have. I’m still waiting, there. The irony was that I do own the “What Does Everything Mean, Basically” sophomore album on the shiny silver disc, and it was something that I never saw on LP back when it was released!

Kirk Brandon of Theatre Of Hate

A year earlier than I first heard Chameleons, I had my head turned by the cinematic and stentorian dubrock soundblast that was Theatre Of Hate’s “Do You Believe In the Westworld.” Both the album and the 12″ single of which have resided in the Record Cell for a long time now. The pairing of Kirk Brandon’s band with Chameleons is possibly the best possible Post-Punk tour teamup imaginable. I can see lots of fans rapturously enjoying both bands equally. With the realities of touring in America, this makes more sense than most things happening in these end times.

And most of the dates for this tour have Jay Aston of Gene Loves Jezebel also on the bill. I can’t say I’m a fan of the Welsh band, as I have usually found them to be a little too close tot he Bonosound® in the vocal phrasing department. But I will cop to actually liking the Madonna cover of a song of hers they performed on the “Virgin Voices” album many years back. It dated from the period after my cultural embargo against her was erected – the tune in question being “Frozen” in a razed In Black mix. I mean, I don’t like Gene Loves Jezebel or especially Madonna! So anything’s possible! So what are those dates dotting the North American continent in about a month?

Chameleons Vox + Theatre Of Hate + Jay Aston | N. American Tour 2019

  1. Oct. 8 | The Middle East – Downstairs | Cambridge, MA
    + Theatre of Hate/Roanoke
  2. Oct. 11 | Lee’s Palace | Toronto, ON
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  3. Oct. 13 | The Empty Bottle | Chicago, IL
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  4. Oct. 16 | Liquid Joe’s | Salt Lake City, UT
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston/Big Face
  5. Oct. 18 | Sunset Tavern | Seattle, WA
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  6. Oct. 19 | Rickshaw Theater | Vancouver, BC
    + with Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston/The Gathering
  7. Oct. 20 | Star Theater | Portland, OR
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  8. Oct. 27 | Echoplex | Los Angeles, CA, US
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aaton/The Part Time Punks
  9. Oct. 28 | The Casbah | San Diego, CA
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  10. Oct. 29 | Club Red – West Theater | Mesa, AZ
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston/The Captives
  11. Oct. 31 | Paper Tiger | San Antonio, TX
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  12. Nov. 2 | Three Links | Dallas, TX
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  13. Nov. 5 | Crowbar | Tampa, FL
    + Theatre of Hate/TBA
  14. Nov. 7 | Capital Ale House Music Hall | Richmond, VA
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  15. Nov. 8 | Ottobar | Baltimore, MD
    + Theatre of Hate/Jay Aston
  16. Dec. 14 | O2 Ritz Manchester | Manchester
    + The Icicle Works

Whoops! That UK date in December just squeaked in there, but Icicle Works is another superb pairing with Chameleons Vox that I’d be hard pressed to top.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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18 Responses to Post-Punk Double Bill North American Bliss From Chameleons Vox + Theatre Of Hate Imminent

  1. Jordan says:

    I should add that for some reason, Montreal is missing from certain listings but they are playing Montreal on October 10th. I am a fan of the first 3 albums. I have seen the Vox version twice and though Mark is the only original member, they put their all into it.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – I had scoured the web to get what information that I did post as correct as I felt I could within the time constraints. The Seattle show had some shifting around that was reflected differently depending on when the dates were published at wherever online. Thanks for the Montreal date confirmation. Enjoy the show as I’m sure it will be a good night out. I agree that albums one through three were certainly great, but I’d give later work a try. I did hear The Sun + The Moon when it came out, but it’s been years and I can’t remember the details as I never owned it. A friend loaned it to me. I see that it’s a costly OOP CD now.

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  2. Echorich says:

    The Chameleons instantly became a band I could not imagine being without. Their output, while cut shorter than it ever should have been, is genuinely edit proof. The level of Burgess’ writing and the band’s music has always struck me as made with such a level of focus and self understanding that it really remains relevant 35+ years on.
    The debut album, Script Of The Bridge is confident, emotionally raw and beautifully nuanced with the interplay of guitars, bass and synth, along with the ever underrated drumming of John Lever. They received a tag of “atmospheric” but that is to only judge the music superficially.
    Sophomore release, What’ Does Anything Mean, Basically?, built on the debut’s foundation but took the sound into a broader, fuller space. It is best listened as a whole piece, uncompromising, with a sense of urgency that sets it apart from the debut.
    Their final album, before breaking up for 25 years, Strange Times saw the band enter into darker, more insular territory. It may be that tensions in the band fueled some of this, but it remains one of the true musical highlights of the otherwise barren later half of the 80s. The second single, Swamp Thing has one of the most memorable and unique effects laden guitar sounds of the era. The song is so strong that the vocals don’t even arrive until 1:47 into the song. Strange Times is a fully realized album in sound, mood and production. The original release contained a further six songs, that in my mind, give a peak into just how much productive energy the band had at this time, regardless of any internal conflicts.
    Sadly, the loss of their long championing manager Tony Fletcher in 1987 left a huge hole within the band as a unit and they chose to end their career. There were songs recorded as the basis of a follow up album, but these never saw the light of day. in 1990, Burgess attempted to release the EP of tracks, mainly to pay off debts, but guitarist Dave Fielding blocked his efforts and only a small number of vinyl releases were ever publicly available from a US pressing. They would be included on the compilation Return Of The Roughnecks in 1997. The show what could have been. The EP would have been titled Tony Fletcher Walked On Water…La La La La La-La La-La La in remembrance of their champion.

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    • SimonH says:

      Agree with every word!
      And, if anyone is in any doubt: I’ve seen the original line up and the Vox version on a number of occasions and all I can say is don’t miss this tour. The intensity is absolutely there.

      Like

      • Echorich says:

        I can’t wait to finally get to experience Chameleon Vox. My first live experience was when The Chameleons opened a CMJ show at Irving Plaza, NYC in the summer of 84 where they shared the bill with Danse Society and Sisters of Mercy. As this was an “industry” styled showcase during the CMJ Convention most people were there for the free entry and free drinks, but when The Chameleons came on, I was up front and center and their sort set blew me away. It was one of those nights to remember! Most may remember it for Steve Rawlings of Danse Society prancing around like a Goth Mick Jagger and others may revel in the claustrophobic smoke of Sisters Of Mercy and Andrew Eldritch literally kickstarting Dr. Avalanche to get the drum pattern going. I remember hearing tracks from Script Of The Bridge live for the very first time and little else.
        I would get to see them in all their intense and urgent glory again in 87 touring Strange Times and one last time on their reformation tour in 2002. None of these shows disappointed and I don’t expect ChameleonVox to either.

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        • SimonH says:

          My first was two consecutive nights at the Marquee in London in May 85, unforgettable for many reasons!
          I don’t think you will be disappointed by Chameleons Vox.

          Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – I wish I could attend that show with you! But we did see Sisters Of Mercy in the 90s and that was the end-all of fog machine abuse! We still make cracks about it today.

          Like

  3. Andy B says:

    An ex-girlfriend introduced me to The Chameleons in ’86. I was a little late to the game. I love the first and third albums. Not so much the second. It was great to see them reform and release some further material in the noughties. Shame they imploded again.
    Chameleons Vox played a gig at Erics in Liverpool about a few years back. I pondered going but felt it wasn’t the same as seeing the proper band so gave it a miss. Then I heard John Lever had died. So no chance of that full reunion now!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Andy B – You may need to get over that attitude about “proper band” lineups. I have many regrets about not seeing groups due to my fussy attitude getting in the way of what could be a good show. My idea now is to go and if it’s not working, then leave. That said, I still consider Peter Hook touring Joy Division/New Order suspicious. Listen to Jordan in the comments on Chameleons Vox. He’s a concert industry pro who has much higher standards than I do, and he rates Burgess’ commitment.

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      • JT says:

        I saw New Order play live in 1985, 1987, and 1989. All three shows suuuuucked. Complete garbage. Live videos of NO (and Joy Division) that I have seen are also uniformly crap. These people are just not engaging live performers. So, naturally, I also found the Peter Hook tours to be a cash-in and could not fathom how they might be any good. But I was convinced to go see him play both “Substance” albums (the NO and JD releases) back-to-back one night last year, and it was pretty good! Essentially a NO/JD cover band but with Hook there… but if NO/JD can’t bring their great records to the stage with any competency, then having other people do it for them is ok by me, as it turns out – and much to my surprise.

        Also: Icicle Works opening the UK show!!!! I always rate IW as the great lost under-rated, under-discussed post-punk band. Their records need to be held in the same regard as – say – Echo and the Bunnymen or something, but they are a footnote in post-punk history, if that. Icicle Works!

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          JT – Wha…?! Your comment wasn’t held in chack in the spam folder!! Yay. Interesting take on the Peter Hook phenomenon. I also saw New Order on the “Technique” tour and thank goodness I had started liking Throwing Muses by 1989! I didn’t really get a handle on them until “Hunkpapa.” They were great. New Order were… there on stage. Given that Peter Hook has hit Asheville pretty hard in the last few years, maybe I should take a chance the next time. If there is one.

          Agreement on Icicle Works. I got their debut CD a few years ago and really liked it. It was always somethiing I had wanted back in the day but never got around to it.It slots strongly in that New Wave/Post-Punk, guitar oriented space where Echo and Chameleons hold court. I would like to hear more but finally getting the debut after wanting it for 30+ years counted for something, I guess!

          Like

        • SimonH says:

          Another positive vote for Peter Hook, very good.

          Like

  4. schwenko says:

    Saturday Nov 9, St Vitus bar in Brooklyn, NYC

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      shewhenko – Thanks for updating the data. As I mentioned, it was difficult getting the actual tour info as correct as possible, since the plan is slightly fluid with different agents reporting different circumstances over time.

      Like

  5. zoo says:

    I’ll be at the Tampa show! CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

    Like

  6. Jordan says:

    I agree with the NO comments. I saw them in 81,85,87 and 89. What a mess. Shambles. I saw them again perhaps 5 years ago and it was the same thing but without Hook and Barney’s voice is shot. I gave up after that. However,NO is still one of my all-time favorite bands.

    NO to me was Barney’s voice and Hooky’s bass. Now both are gone. I also was rather leery of Hook playing NO songs as he is a terrible singer and not my type of showman but I saw him live and it is a professional, faithful to the songs, type of band. In a way like VOX, it is a cover band and Hook does not play on all songs. There is another bass player but when Hook does play, his bass playing is at the forefront of the mix and that bass sound is so unique and melodic. It was worth seeing him live. Would I do it again, probably not?

    The question of whether to see a band if all the original members are not involved anymore is a personal one. By default, the singer is always the focus so without that person in the band, it has limited success. I enjoyed seeing Midge Ure play Ultravox or Ralf Hutter play Kraftwerk or Mark Burgess play Chameleons. Life is way too short so why not!

    Like

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