On Saturday night at the Black Cat, legendary Dutch post-punk group The Ex treated DC fans to an energetic run through of most of the songs off their latest album, “Catch My Shoe”, a Hungarian folk song they used to do with Tom Cora, and a cover of the Konono No.1 song “Huriyet”. The Ex have been a band for over thirty years and while their line-up has changed many times over the years (most recently with a change of lead singers) the band has always maintained core values of improvisation, collaboration, and blistering guitar action. It was this third value that was most prominently on display Saturday night.
Long-time members Terrie Hessels and Andy Moor played furious post-punk guitar stylings that would give Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill nightmares. Watching Hessels and Moor work is like sitting in on a master class of guitar innovation. The two switched off through the night playing guitar and baritone guitars. Particular guitar highlights were the deep bass tones Moor dug up with the Baritone, watching Hessels attack his axe with a drum stick, and seeing both of them run their palms over their strings in frantic circles.
New lead singer Arnold De Boer made his DC debut fronting The Ex on Saturday, but you could not tell from his performance that he was filling the shoes of the band’s former singer of 30 years, G.W. Sok. Instead, De Boer blended seamlessly into the mix with some mighty impressive guitar work of his own to back up his firebrand vocal style.
With three guitars blazing away full-tilt, it was the drumming of Katherina Bornefeld that held the songs together. Her Her worldly rhythms rhythms and deceptive forcefulness grounded the cavalcade of guitars and kept their free form freak-outs on course. Bornefeld also sang a song in Amharic and another in Hungarian!
As Andy Moor told me in our interview last week, the addition of De Boer has re-energized the group. This was obvious from Saturday night’s performance; The Ex are one of the most consistently great live bands I have seen over the years, but on Saturday night their show was injected with a renewed sense of fun and passion that made it the favorite performance I have seen from them. There is not much more to say by way of review after that statement; other than enjoy the following gallery of my photos from the show; and check out The Ex!