The Lucid Dream at The Victoria, London - live review

Carlisle-based proggers cast impressive shapes in London

a crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

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And then it happens. Mark Emmerson and Wayne Jefferson’s guitars – here fed through a phalanx of pedals – are, in tandem with Luke Anderson’s shimmering cymbals, creating a vortex of sound that holds the packed Victoria rapt. An exhilarating rush, it feels as if this moment has no end, but suddenly, just at the point where it feels that no more can be given or taken, Mike Denton’s bass comes pumping back into action, the drums lock into a murderous motorik groove and the venue erupts into pandemonium. Lights flash before blinking and almost unbelieving eyes, and glow sticks are waved by a delirious crowd, seriously losing its shit to a new generation of space rock.

Carlisle’s The Lucid Dream are a curious bunch. They look like footy casuals and bring a tour DJ with them who spins a fine selection of house and techno before they come on stage (the band’s intro music is The KLF’s What Time Is Love?), but you take them at face value at your peril because what makes their variant of cosmic rock so compelling is the addition of dub reggae and dance dynamics. Witness the lolloping might of I’m A Star In My Own Right that has a sensibility of which Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry would be proud, pushed through a truly mind-expanding prism of third-eye-cleansing delights. See also the muscular giant that’s Bad Texan.

What The Lucid Dream so skilfully do is place the rhythm section at the heart of the action, allowing the guitarists to take their wild flights of fancy that never stray into the area of self-indulgence. The net result is music aimed as much for the hips and feet as it is for the head. This is a twining of disparate threads to create a joyous and hedonistic psychedelic narrative.

They’re also not short on humour. Mindful of the clock on the wall, Emmerson quips, “We’re going to have to cut some of our 15-minute numbers down to 10,” yet they take their music seriously enough. The double whammy of Nadir and Epitaph are simply colossal, repetitive groove-laden monsters that encapsulate The Lucid Dream’s aesthetic, as trance and dance coalesce beautifully.

This is a head party where everyone is invited. You should heed that call.

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.