Charles Hayward @ Catch
Shoreditch Catch. 25aug11
In the mid-70’s, This Heat provided a bridge between the German progressive rock scene and UK post-punk, incorporating loops to advance a pre post-rock, eerie industrial sound. Following their disbanding in 1982, drummer Charles Hayward went on to play with Camberwell Now, Gong, About Group, Monkey Puzzle Trio and Blurt, as well as undertaking session work with groups ranging from Everything But The Girl to Hot Chip to Crass. In addition, he has performed in a number of free improvisation collectives, as well as performing solo.
To some the idea of a drummer doing a solo show will no doubt bring one of two thoughts to mind; noodling prog acts giving their sticksman an ego boost and their guitarists a fag break; or a council- funded community rhythm workshop. Charles Hayward fits neither profile.
First of all one must disengage from the idea of the drum solo which tends to be a case of “let me show you how quickly I can hit all these drums”, and into the idea of the drum lift, where the vocal is of equal prominence. Indeed, the drums are never chaotic, every beat and fill dovetailing with the pre-recorded bleeps and synth washes; Hayward staring roguishly into the middle distance whilst projecting his fragile vocal.
“My maaaaad-ness” he begins, the glint in his gaze increasingly vivid, before moving smoothly into a groove that feet can respond to. A kindly, mildly eccentric presence, he later rises from his stool to pause one song for a good thirty seconds just so that he might peer out at us incredulously.
Rather than showcase lightning speed, he is unafraid to use space and the pregnant pause, whilst his experience of free improvisation means the catatonic beat is consistently side-stepped whenever a full-on groove threatens to take-hold.
The lyrics tend to be the repetitive hook, cycling around a kind of 21st century paranoia; “information rich, information poor” he intones as mantra, at one point backed only by shaken maracas. He may only be one 60 year old man inside one drum set but Charles Hayward’s sets not only engage, they haunt.
*photo found online and was taken at Sonar Festival in 2007.