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Pete Um | Portland Arms Cambridge

Pete Um at the Portland Arms in Cambridge, was a complete bonus. As readers of the website will know I took a trip last month to Cambridge to see Gary War, over from the USA for a tour. It was a wet and cold night, hey that is the current theme I guess.

Pete Um

Pete Um

After having a chat with the guys from Gary War, I headed back to the car for a cigarette, such is the state of the UK and racked up the volume to something by the Pistols, yes I know there should be some sex in front of it, but it all seems so pretentious hey Johnny – how is the TV advertising doing after some ridiculous appearance on ‘I am desperate for a break vote for me’. To give the man credit at least Mr. Lydon never pretended he was anything other than a money grubber, which I guess is why the court case made history at the time. That kind of bull was the reason I left my band, they wanted to chase the dollar, I wanted to do what I wanted to do, perhaps Sid was a little more real, I digress, but as you will know, I am only interested in bands doing what they believe in.

We head back to Gary War, by the time I returned from my sojourn, they had all disappeared, so I headed in to the small back-room at The Portland Arms and facing me was a guy in the lotus position mumbling in to a mike. I thought to myself, how long before he gets off. Then he pressed his MP3 player, which was hooked to who knows what as I followed a series of connectors and I was just settling down to his vocal and it was all over.

Pete Um is  perhaps one of the most understated on the site thus far. He delivers as though he is a bumbling incapable idiot and would in fact make a fantastic comedian with a monotone delivery many spend years getting wrong, never mind a superb experimental musician. The songs are introduced by a significant preamble, which for little apparent reason had the audience, myself included, laughing and we were led in to tracks which never lasted more than a minute and a half.

From his sedentary, leather pilot helmet clad and goggles visage, Pete Um delivered a half hour set, comprising songs of ever shorter duration, which must have taken hours of production. Pete is a consummate experimentalist, who doesn’t try too hard, yet has a superb appreciation of what he is delivering. His stage craft is supreme and his 50 second tracks reveal so much more than a double LP of asinine pop.

I was enthralled – a minimalist set – lets be fair, sitting in a lotus position, at the edge of a tiny stage is perhaps as minimalist as it may get, delivered humour, far reaching experimentation, which to the audience came from a basic MP3 player and some soul searching lyric, which was a tour de force.

Pete Um may not get the recognition he deserves in the UK, but this beats hands down most output from the global experimental scene.

Oh Pete the answer to Syd Barret.. cremated in Cambridge and there is a bench in commemoration.

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Weighing the anchor with Johnny, love ya baby as much as I loved you in the Bromley contingent…… try a Pete Um type of reality.

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  1. [...] His prolific output explores a huge range of subjects, with the music delivered in the understated style that is the signature of Pete Um. In live performance his self deprecating, humour brings everything to life (review of Pete Um at The Portland Arms). [...]

  2. [...] original post here:  Pete Um | Portland Arms Cambridge | Indie bands blog tags: became-the-classic, CAMBRIDGE, coherent-discipline, description, [...]

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