Mars, Vancouver - Wednesday, September 17, 1997
After three weeks touring around the United States, Fluke visited Canada last night for the last date of their tour. I joined them on their 70ft luxury land cruiser as it passed through Seattle to bring you this special report.
As with most visits to the land of red maple leaves a beauracratic foul-up at the border forced them to pay out over $1,000 to get in, but in they got and were greeted with a 1,500 person capacity club with one of the better sound systems of the whole tour. After much tweaking by sound engineer Jon Pennington the PA was soon exclaimed by the resident techs to sound better and much louder than it had ever sounded before at which point the band ran through a few songs before retiring to the hotel to prepare for the show.
By midnight MARS was packed with lovers of electronic music that had made their way through the pouring rain to see what is rapidly becoming one of the pre-emminent electronic music bands of the nineteen nineties.
After ten years of relative obscurity the two Mike's (Mike T on keyboards and Mike B on everything else) and singer John Fugler are finally beginning to recieve the usual recognition thing, but with the recent addition of Rachael, a pure voiced intrinsically intimidating rebel rouser from bonnie Scotland, the band is complete. Lighting plays a most important part in most live shows, especially for a high energy show such as this, and Andy Watton who has been on the lights for most of the bands career did a superb job. While watching a replay of the show on a Sony digital video camera on the way back to Seattle I noticed the extent to which timing becomes a crucial part of the lighting process, and with a band like Fluke who are capable of throwing anything in at any time during the show you really have to be on your toes.
From the opening of Atom Bomb with its grinding analog bass with deep space sound effects and super cool vocals through to the encore performance of Electric Guitar the band kept the audience tightly wrapped around its collective fingers, all the while being wooed by Rachael as John Fugler, pacing around like a mad man, leered at the crowd. A tag team who didn't for one second let the audience out of its grasp.
This was also technically one of the best shows I've seen, with songs that worked incredibly well under performance conditions. Obviously an incredible amount of work went into what took place tonight, with remarkable attention payed to the kind of tiny details that make all the difference. An attention to detail that is absolutely crucial if you're to captivate an audience that thinks it's seen and heard it all before.
Bottom line is this, if electronic music is to become a genre that's here to stay it's going to take bands like Fluke to make sure that complacency never sets in, to ensure that the live performance remains as important as the countless hours it takes to get the music to disk.