Somewhere under Regent Street, beneath the temples of hi-end consumerism that line one of London's major shopping arteries, there lurks a cellar once (and possibly still) owned by a venerable firm of wine merchants. But where oaken barrels of finest red and white were once racked up, now there's a minimal stage, a frankly rather haphazard-looking PA, and a veritable stack of odd and creative beat combinations. This is Tesco Disco, a night spot which unblushingly describes itself as a 'nocturnal art salon'. Well, the proceedings might in fact resemble a good old art-punk shindig to my eyes, but let's buy an outrageously overpriced bottle of beer from the bar, and shuffle in to the gig room to experience some of that nocturnal art.
I don't know if this represents a whole new direction for the band, or whether Colt have put together an appropriately minimalist show for this particular gig, but there's a distinct absence of guitars and drums on stage. Instead, tonight Colt play as a two-keyboards-and-voice trio, making music that seems to tiptoe out of the haphazard PA with a certain nervous delicacy. Vocalist Andrea, looking glamourous and fractured in gold PVC, stands at the edge of the stage as if poised upon a ghastly precepice, the mic stand the only thing that stops her stepping into space. The songs themselves are like nerve endings crocodile-clipped to electric wires - taut, stretched, thrumming with internal energy, and curiously unsettling to boot. When the audience greets the conclusion of one particular song by simply sitting in stunned silence - a reaction which would spell doom for most bands - it seems only appropriate.
Here come the mysterious Uniform, and all of a sudden everything goes a bit Throbbing Gristle. Uniform aren't really a band - they're more of a sonic art experience. They use conventional instruments - guitar, bass, keyboard, even a trombone - to generate unconventional noise. Rumbles and electronic fizzes erupt as if from the bowels of an unseen monster. Violin bows and toothbrushes coax sound out of guitars. In the midst of all this, holding court like the Grand Vizier of weird rackets, the magnificently moustachioed keyboard player sits amid the sonic boom, his keyboard propped up on wine boxes. I suppose that's one thing about doing a gig in a wine cellar: you get a better class of beer crate. Uniform aren't quite the po-faced noise-terrorists they might at first appear, though. Amid the forbidding clamour I'm sure I hear a snatch of Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades', a little hint that there's wit at work here, too.
For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.