Sounds, March 13, 1982
UV PØP / Oppo
Psalter Lane Art College, Sheffield
ONSTAGE JOHN White looks gaunt and angular, a fugitive from hell hounds of his own making. He
conceals his nervousness behind a stony facade. He strums a mean electric guitar and throws himself almost bodily into each song, his voice seeming to manufacture words rather than enunciate them.
John White is UV PØP, singer, songwriter and guitarist, a one-man band for the 80’s. He relies for his accompaniment on a series of backing tapes, and tries (not very successfully at times) to complement his music by projecting
slides onto a screen at the back of the stage.
Tonight he opened with a gentle instrumental called ‘IC’, simple and economical, yet with a powerful cumulative effect. He followed
through with stuff like ‘No Songs Tomorrow’, ‘Man’ and the compelling ‘Portrait’, the story of a man’s life crammed into a three-minute song. All good, memorable numbers, simple, direct and uncluttered.
Unfortunately an inexcusably long sound-check by one of the groups (no names, no pack drill) meant that John didn’t have time to set his gear up properly, and his set suffered accordingly. It also
meant that I was forced to leave before the end to catch the last train home. Nevertheless I departed with the conviction that John White is a name we’re going to be hearing a lot more of in ‘82.
White was supported by a character known simply as Oppo, who made use of an electronic gadget to distort and multi track his voice. He began with an a capella rendition of ‘You’ve Lost That Loving
Feeling’ (sacrilege!) and went on to create a veritable barrage of sound and lyric splinters. The whole thing suggested a cross between performance artist Laurie Anderson and New York poet John
Giorno, who specialises in releasing whole albums full of this kind of multi layered vocal claptrap.
I’m old fashioned and sadly Oppo didn’t entertain me at all. I
could detect no underlying aesthetic principle to what he was doing. I mean, come off it, Oppo I don’t expect you to come round here and watch me indulge in private pleasures, and I don’t see why I should have to watch you.