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Zeche, Bochum, Germany
16th January 2010
Archive, BirdPen

ARCHIVE with their ‘Controlling Crowds’ cycle from 2009 have amazed listeners and critics worldwide with its epic dimensions and cunning way of blending different styles together. This also was our first contact with the British collective, but it had such impact on us we decided to take the next chance there was to be part of an ARCHIVE live event - and the one in Bochum surely deserved that name.


The imaginary “The Village” is mentioned as the hometown of British outfit BIRDPEN, founded in 2004. Between that year and 2006, the band released three singles and attracted a growing audience with their “21st Century Doom Groove” tour. 2007 would be the year they met ARCHIVE and go on to write songs for the ‘Lights’ album and following for them, as well as touring with them extensively. Finally, in 2009 BIRDPEN released their debut album ‘On/Off/Safety/Danger’ to overwhelming critical acclaim. BIRDPEN is Dave Pen, Mike Bird and James Livingston Seagull. /

Music & Performance
An acoustic show of BIRDPEN was announced, and the first two songs ‘Nature Regulate’ and ‘Cold Blood’ fulfilled that criterion perfectly. Either they were using the piano or the guitar for company, the focal point always was Dave Pen’s incredible voice. Bell-like but at points sad as the darkest day in one’s life it sent shivers down the spine of everyone. For the second part of the show, they got ARCHIVE drummer Smiley to support them. So much for the mere acoustic part! With his inclusion, the songs were enriched with high dynamics which made ‘Off’ and especially ‘Only The Names Change’, which crossed the border to rocking mayhem with Dave grooving like a maniac to the track, a true invitation to dance. The only negative thing about this show was that it’s been way too short.

01. Nature Regulate
02. Cold Blood
03. Off
04. Only The Names Change

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10


It’s been 16 years that the ARCHIVE project started around Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths in 1994. Together with the female singer Roya Arab and the young rapper Rosko John, the band released their first album ‘Londinium’ on Island Records in 1996. But ARCHIVE was doomed to break up the same year due to internal problems. The bands reformation, however, came to pass already in 1997 with an altered line-up surrounding Keeler and Griffiths with which they recorded and released the follow-up ‘Take My Head’ in 1999 which in hindsight is described by the band as their least favourite.

The next three albums, released in the following years brought them back to a more progressive approach to composing their music after the poppy foray with the second album. That back to the roots attitude brought forth milestones such as ‘Noise’ and a few years later the highly regarded ‘Lights’. ‘Controlling Crowds’, released in 2009 started of a four part conceptual cycle completed within the same year. ARCHIVE is Darius Keeler (synths, piano), Danny Griffiths (keys, samples), Maria Q (vocals), Pollard Berrier (vocals, guitar), Dave Penney (guitar, vocals), Rosko John (vocals, MC), Steve Harris (guitar), Lee Pomeroy (bass) and Smiley (drums). /

Music & Performance
Since BIRDPEN just played a good 25 minutes set, ARCHIVE would have plenty of time to play now and at 8 PM sharp it got dark and the show started. Keeler and Griffiths entered the stage, placed on the left and right and the others followed, including Dave Pen, so the stage really was packed with people who one by one joined into creating the expansive soundscapes of the opener ‘Pills’, whereas Maria Q had the most intriguing one. The acoustic drums in addition to the highly advanced electronics already made the start a highlight. For the gritty vibes of ‘Sane’, Pollard Berrier took over the lead vocals and pleased everyone with its truly outstanding voice. Before the next one I have to say first I‘m not a hip hop or rap addict. In fact, I hardly ever listen to that kind of music. But the combo of ARCHIVE’s music and Rosko John’s lyrics is irresistible and had everyone moving along to the sounds of ‘Razed to the Ground’.

The next four tracks, starting with ‘Collapse/Collide’ were being played in the same order as on ‘Controlling Crowds’. You could say it was a song in four episodes with each one having other protagonist. On the jazzy ‘Collapse/Collide’ that was Maria, followed up by Pollard on ‘Clones’ moving onward to Rosko on ‘Bastardised Ink’ and ending with Dave on ‘Kings of Speed’ where the large projection wall in the back created an amazing effect. It was showing hands and at one point it looked like Dave would be standing or dancing within the palms of two hands from a certain perspective. It only took seconds of melodic fragments for the audience to recognize one favourite of theirs with ‘Fuck You’ and great cheers were to be heard from everywhere. Even more than that, the crowd started chanting together with Dave the lines of the track.

Skipping the next few ones might seem a little bit unfair but facing the importance of the upcoming one I’m sure you’ll forgive me for being so rude. Again, it was as with the aforementioned song. The first chords heard raised limitless excitement as it was the title track of the album ‘Lights’. The most prominent feature of that song was its length of over 18 minutes in which the track built up more and more while white feathers flew by on the video in the background. These guys really do know how to create a certain atmosphere, not only with the music but also with imagery. It is a tough thing to describe what this “song” is doing with you over its duration. Let’s say it’s an experience worth making again and again. Even ‘Lights’ came to an end eventually so did the set, however it didn’t look like anyone wanted anything to end. The shouts for more got louder and louder and finally, the well-known melody of ‘Controlling Crowds’ announced the encore. The stage filled up again slowly and sooner than you knew Pollard took control of the action.

3 more tunes would follow it up with ‘Pulse’ bringing the show to an ecstatic end which was the real end this time. Even though the crowd long time shouted for more encores, nothing happened and the stage crew started doing their work. It was our first ARCHIVE show and I think I can speak for both of us if I say it’s been a blast ladies and gentlemen.

01. Pills
02. Sane
03. Finding it so Hard
04. Razed to the Ground
05. Collapse/Collide
06. Clones
07. Bastardised Ink
08. Kings of Speed
09. Fuck You
10. Lines
11. Blood in Numbers
12. You make me Feel
13. Danger Visit
14. Lights
15. Controlling Crowds
16. Bullets
17. So few Words
18. Pulse

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Sound: 9
Light: 9
Total: 9 / 10

All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / /

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