Nicholas Allbrook – who had jaunted and thrashed around as if in the midst of a seizure – had perfectly encapsulated the mad hatter on amphetamine at his show at The Social, London, on April 26, 2018.
It was a Thursday night and a cumulonimbus cloud had formed above Oxford Circus, it’s lightning bolts soaking into the skin of the pocket-sized-punk. Though the Pond frontman sported a garish demeanour, the signs of his bashful nature had been unmissable and already streams of gratitude had gushed from his side of the room.
The news of the ‘free-entry’ show had clearly caught like wildfire, as from wall-to-wall, fans had gathered, bopped, giggled and heckled. Support act, Alan Power (who with his mullet, Yankee swagger and Presley-esque suit) had already spilt his heart over keyboard melodies in between hilarious commentaries and introductions.
A warping apocalyptic noise had been the foundation of Nick’s entrance song, inspired by the time he lived in a shared house – the first snippet of his personal life which had been shared during the intimate show. Every word that regurgitated from his mouth was heavy with emotion. Every move, from clambering on top of wooden tables to weaving between the crowd, was lead by a blitz of impulse.
Allbrook’s quirky rendition of Pond’s ‘Zen Automation’ had been almost sinister: “And drive the sword of humans guilt, right up to its diamond hilt” between the lines pulled from his lungs he played the flute, flooding the venue with ethereal notes.
His energy had been utterly enthralling. He clambered around the stage (which was no bigger than a king-sized bed) playing with an assemblage of instruments and punching new sounds from his keyboard. Every note was effortless, yet it looked like he was constantly at his last breath, like every bone in his body had been breaking.
After performing a track from Pond’s new album, which had was a concoction of cacophonous electronic sounds, Allbrook spoke of his home countries contradictive ways. ‘Advance’ had been the voice of a thousand activists. In his usual fervid state, he had shouted as if nose-to-nose with Malcolm Turnball himself, expressing his frustration with Australia’s path, all with an acerbic wit.
Nick Allbrook is the mighty, idiosyncratic talent of our generation. His peculiar stage presence, the gallery of his lyrics, his colourful past and ultimately, the insane raw talent, is real. It was not constructed by a record label, it is not shown off on his (non-existent) social media, it is not a public facade.
It is legitimate and watching him on stage is the only evidence anyone needs.