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8 out of 10
The last time I set foot in Birmingham's Town Hall was about 15 years ago for an A-Level Business Studies conference. I was certain tonight's gig with Birmingham's own electronic experimentalists "Modified Toy Orchestra" (MTO) was going to be a very different affair.
For the uninitiated (as I was before this gig), MTO create their music almost entirely from tinkering with old electronic toys. I say tinkering but I think it's safe to say that project originator Brian Duffy and his band are fairly accomplished in the field of electronics to get the results they do. What we experienced was a performance of new songs from their latest album "Plastic Planet" comprising of a jazzed up Speak and Spell, freaky red eyed hula girl doll, toy guitar, toy gun and a whole host of other modified goodies. The results are quite amazing and I think the audience seemed to agree. The band, all adorned in smart black suits worked their way through the set accompanied by some fantastic visuals drawing the audience in with each song. The friendly banter between simply added to the nights great atmosphere. I can't begin to imagine the skill needed to keep everything perfectly in time amongst the five strong band. Every member executes their (very varied) parts of the jigsaw with absolute precision though. Stand out track for me was "Earth One" which just seemed to come together perfectly with its visuals but I'd hate to say there was only one stand out song as this performance on a whole was one of the most interesting live music experiences I've had for a while. I expected something 'different', and different was what I got!
If you get the chance to experience MTO live, you love electronic music or just have a taste for the unusual - see them!