It’s looking like Miracle Legion’s first London gig for 20 years might also be their last anywhere
Saturday 20th August, Oslo, Hackney
Revered by Radiohead and R.E.M., US cult band Miracle Legion have reunited to play Green Man festival and their first full band London show in two decades, with support from Darren Hayman.
Miracle Legion parted ways in 1996 following their final studio album, Portrait of a Damaged Family, seemingly never to return again. Now, two decades later, Mark Mulcahy’s legendary Connecticut outfit has reunited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that record and its reissue, with the celebrated singer-songwriter back alongside lead guitarist Mr. Ray Neal, bassist Dave McCaffrey, and drummer Scott Boutier for UK and US dates, including a London show on Saturday 20th August at Oslo in Hackney and an appearance at Green Man festival.
“Getting back with Miracle Legion was something I never thought about,” Mulcahy explains. “We always lived by ‘never say never,’ and so this is some perversion of that shitty motto. Even when we were together, there were many, many times I hated it so much I couldn’t think it would last another day.”
“I’ve always had a feeling of unfinished business,” Neal admits. “The wrong business won the first time around. There is still more to do.” One of the original “college rock” bands, Miracle Legion formed in 1983 in New Haven, Connecticut, rising to critical acclaim from rave reviews surrounding both 1984’s The Backyard EP and their 1987 full-length debut, Surprise Surprise Surprise, both on Rough Trade Records.
Following the release of 1989’s Me and Mr. Ray, Mulcahy and Neal found a new rhythm section in McCaffrey and Boutier and signed with Morgan Creek Records, who would issue their third studio album, 1992’s Drenched, in addition to two promotional EPs.
By 1996, Miracle Legion was both without a label and distraught from years of legal cat-and-mouse with Morgan Creek. But they had recorded an album: Portrait of a Damaged Family. And so Mulcahy created his own imprint, Mezzotint, and released the album out of his basement. It was a swan song before the swan dive. The band was done. Mulcahy started Polaris, Boutier & McCaffrey joined up with Frank Black and Neal disappeared to the wilderness of suburbia.
“We finally drove ourselves off a cliff, and I thought that was it.” Mulcahy contends. “However, you didn’t see us die, and now we have crawled back up the mountain towards insanity once again. Damaged but operating. I give us a 50/50 chance. Thank you all for watching.”
“A rare balance between wide-eyed wonder and a wistful, wise-beyond-their-years sensibility… this could be Miracle Legion’s moment for re-evaluation, a band lost in the cracks of time and label bullshit found once again.” (Pitchfork)
Read recent Guardian feature.
Read about Miracle Legion’s Top Ten Songs via Consequence of Sound.
Watch their appearance on The Andrew Marr Show
And Pitchfork feature here.
DARREN HAYMAN AND THE SECONDARY MODERN
Best known as the singer-songwriter of the phenomenally successful and much-loved Hefner, Darren Hayman is now well over ten albums into an increasingly idiosyncratic career path, where he has taken a singular and erratic route through England’s tired and heartbroken underbelly. Darren is also writing the best tunes of his career – increasingly complex and mature songs.
Mostly joined by his band The Secondary Modern – a loose, urban folk collective, underpinning Hayman’s concrete sorrow with rural violins and tired pianos – he has released a series of albums, largely focused on place. This allowed for the exploration of nuanced subjects in detail, with a trio of albums based in Essex (2009’s Pram Town and 2010’s Essex Arms) and culminating in 2012’s The Violence, a 20-song account of the 17th century Essex witch trials. From this he developed an album of English Civil War folk songs of the time (2013’s Bugbears) and stayed with the historical theme for last year’s Chants For Socialists, which saw him set William Morris’ words to music, creating an album of kindness and hope that brought Hayman’s most critical acclaim yet.
Hayman’s latest work is his enthralling and ambitious new album Thankful Villages. Hayman visited each of the fifty four villages in Britain where every soldier returned alive from World War I and created a piece of music and a short film for every one.
“London’s laureate of sexual dysfunction, discomfort, and dog-eared under-achievement… the match of Ray Davies, or any of the quintessentially English masters.” (The Guardian)
Fortuna POP! presents
Saturday 20th August, Doors 6:30pm
at OSLO, London
1A Amhurst Road, Hackney, London E8 1LL
Nearest train: Hackney Central / Hackney Downs (Overground)
Tel: 0203 553 4831
Advance: £17.50 from We Got Tickets / £20 Door