Show Reviews > Adrian H and the Wounds

Adrian H and the Wounds - Live: January 31, 2010
The Fez Ballroom, Portland, Oregon
By Jett Black
Photos courtesy of Pamela Rambo

Adrian H and the Wounds! Well worth the price of admission to The Fez Ballroom.

Ever and always, we at MusicArtery.com seek to highlight for our readership the most innovative independent music artists haunting live music venues sprawling across the globe. Portland, Oregon socialites and music fans boast routinely about The Fez Ballroom and Lounge for the adults-only intimacy and elegance provided by the venue's interior design which includes semi-private alcoves, split levels with a full bar stationed conveniently on each floor, ceiling to floor draperies, impressive views of the bustling downtown nightlife along SW 11th and Burnside, plush, comfy furnishings amid reclusive non-smoking retreats from the sometimes precipitous outdoor traffic, and, of course, the very best in both live music performances and disc jockey showcasing events. For a complete listing of featured weekly, and monthly danceclub showcases, and upcoming special live music presentations, please visit the Fez Ballroom EVENTS schedule.

Adrian H and the Wounds deliver now with a full band line-up and customized lighting performance a more enthusiastic rendition of some of the more twisted and sultry songs appearing on the band's self-titled full length debut CD, reviewed HERE earlier. Since the release of that often melodramatic debut CD, the band's line-up has changed, subtracting one member, and adding at least two more; actually three counting Tristan who on this evening provides fog and lighting coordination, and yet is rumoured to also be joining the band line-up soon to provide some additional action on guitar for upcoming live music performances.

Wading into the crowd and idling up to the edge of the two-foot platform riser, we in the darkly clad crowd enjoy the entreats of introductory electro-noise and acoustic reverberations while several dozen 8mm shafts of luminescent Green Lantern light beams scatter and dance amid the oscillating production of fog, scanning the faces and rubbing shoulders of each life form now leaning in for a better view of Adrian H; now floating in the fog bank like the sinister form of Boris Karloff, as he begins rattling off a litany of lyrics composed for a newly debuted song entitled "Nasty". Between lyrical lines, I catch only snippets with my archaic quick-quotes quill; "We don't like the way you look... or the things you say," leaps into my notes before stepping aside for several photographers, each vying in the queue to capture a coveted money shot of Adrian H and the Wounds.

Next, the Wounds all but relax upon "Straight leg with a Crooked Stick", sweat beginning to swell up and cascade into the folds of Adrian's wickedly twisted neck scarf and tailored heavy overcoat. Glistening now beneath the glare of overhead lamps, and shadowboxed by a thick mop of cropped and spiky black hair, I find this image remarkably similar to that of Peter Murphy on tour back in the late 80's and early 90's, so wont he was for staring directly into the spotlight and dragging his voice over the firey coals for seemingly endless lengths of time.

Visually, Adrian H is even more animated than the maniacal lyrics that he cranks out. Beyond an unlimited range of brooding, provocative, and haunting facial gestures, which threaten to rapidly age this singer well beyond his years, his crooked stance behind the piano and the crushing hammers that he wields so deftly upon the keys impress in full measure the intensity of passion alluded to so sincerely within the lyrical style of story-telling each and every song unleashed upon the audience.

Given the "non-smoking" characterization of Oregon music venues, an effective fog machine ironically supports the atmosphere described by stimulating sensory lyrics of "Smoke", the third song penetrating throughout the burgeoning pressure of a standing audience to the extremities of cloistered wallflowers claiming fiefdom over plush sofa chairs. Mid-way into the song, Adrian H uses lyrical vocalization to both verbally and physically direct the focus of the audience to Broken Heart loosely caged behind a flying dead head skull and out-flanked by a modest drum kit. Dressed for a sudden downpour, a hooded Broken Heart appears even further recessed into the back-beat by a patterned head scarf tied snug beneath his jowls and also by a pair of dark sun shades; bulbous and over-sized.

Interluding instrumental reverb, piano key manipulation, and percussive embellishments segueue leisurely into "East 10th Street", mounting steadily into the lyrical content which points toward a transitory shift between the first and second half of the musical set.  In medias res, however, another danse macabre treat cascades into the audience like wholesale candy spilling from the abused belly of a papier-mâché piñata. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," as eroded and reconstructed by the sinister guile of Adrian H, becomes an anthemic turning point at the crux of this visionary performance.

Next, Adrian H grabs a tambourine and drifts reflectively into "The Old Church," which quickly diverges into a faster version of its formerly recorded self. Heavy overcoats worn fashionably close-fit by Shiggy and Adrian H now become touseled and discarded. Adrian announces suddenly the advent of the band's newest member, Becky, a circuit-bending doll carried nimbly forth by Broken Heart to the edge of the stage where fervently attentive fans become mesmerized by chaotic noise coursing through an electrified umbilical cord plugged securely into Becky's navel above which the standard numerical grid of a telephone keypad protrudes from her chest. As Broken Heart continues to delight the less than footsure rabid pirates knocking knees against one another at the edge of the stage, Adrian H peels back the sleeves of a buccaneer blouse to reveal the subterfuge; meandering vines of matching tribal tattoo sleeves.

Tribute to the gutteral vocal stylings of a darkly neofolk Austrian artist known as Novo Homo receives appreciative responses from the gathering audience when Adrian H belts out a criminalized rendition of "Border Patrol". Following hot on the heels of that cover tune, "Murder in the Forest" next finds Adrian H most resolutely illustrating the now darkening air with emphatic hand gestures, a once again animated countenance, and a gyrating stature; inclined at times intently into the piano keys and sometimes posturing forthright into the very faces of the crowd.

Advancing the musical pace still further to the pinnacle of apprehension, the visceral charge of heavy percussion and bass leads passionately into, "Cookies & Cocaine", a blitzkrieg assault on the senses which leaves this writer feeling strangely dehydrated and insatiably hungry for more. Now bathing once again in the fog bank and not willing to disappoint, Adrian H and the Wounds elect to treat the swarthy accolade of swanky pirates to a surprising cover of "Hoist that Rag"; originally recorded in 2004 by Tom Waits.

Photography for this special live music presentation, featuring the full line up of Adrian H and the Wounds, has been made possible by the generous contributions of Pamela Rambo , a talented digital artist based locally in Portland, Oregon who has hoisted some of her graphic designs, many of which clearly support various other PDX-local entertainment events, aloft at PamelaRambo.com, which we wholeheartedly encourage our readers to explore.