Within seconds of mounting the stage a pair of female pants has been launched onto the stage. On cue they are greeted with These havent been worn! This might have been funny if it hadnt been so obviously staged. Another pair are flung later so M&S must be having a sale on. Still the pants being thrown at an old wrinkly does add credence to the view that the rather sleazy looking frontman, Dick Valentine is a poor mans Tom Jones. His deep moist voice has that richness of the fake tanned boy from the Valleys but with the physical appearance of Rigsby from Rising Damp.
Its not all pants though, new single Gay Bar is a high powered punk yomp and the keyboardists Sideshow Bob style gravity defying hairdo keeps me entertained for a few minutes. In the long run though the regulars at the Pig and Whistle can look forward to their boys returning to their normal Sunday lunchtime slot soon because the novelty will soon wear off with the student population elsewhere.
|Electric Six (Concorde 2, Brighton)|
It would be daft to pretend to know the names of the songs nobody here does. But a few snatched lyrics might give you some idea: "I was born to excite her/ She could never be whiter!" shrieks the lead singer during the first song. "Everybody's doing it in the middle of the street - IMPROPER DANCING!" he barks a bit later, while fist-rubbing his groin. And then theres my personal favourite and rumoured to be the next single: "I wanna take you to a gay bar, gay bar, GAY BAR!"
Its all sex, glamour, fire and brimstone but most of all its fun. Yet this shouldnt detract from the music. Disco-punk-funk-glam-rock is not easy to say - its even harder to do. Electric Six might come across like escapees from an am-dram musical gone horribly wrong, but these boys have got the kernel of a good idea. It probably wont last, but itll be fun while it does.
|The Music (Brixton Academy, London)|
coin a phrase, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Anybody heading of to see a The
Music gig should be under any illusions about what they are going to experience. Got the
album thats what youll hear for the next 90 minutes. Dont pin
your hopes on hearing anything different or diverse from this 20 something 4 piece because
you will be sorely disappointed. Thats not to say that they dont do it very
well, on the contrary they pull it off with aplomb and are more than adequate musicians
but even the less than usually cynical journalist is going to find it hard to stomach the
same sort of stuff being churned out ad infinitum for an hour and a half.
Thats not to say that they dont do it very well, on the contrary they pull it off with aplomb and are more than adequate musicians but even the less than usually cynical journalist is going to find it hard to stomach the same sort of stuff being churned out ad infinitum for an hour and a half.
hard to pin down the influences apart from the obvious psychedelia of the sixties and
seventies. Vocals are perpetually drowned in an unnecessary amount of reverb to a point
where you really have no idea of whether he can sing or not, in a bizarre Karaoke on a
grand scale sort of way. On stage dynamics are reserved for the singers flailing arms and
spinning dervish activities which have been reported on in countless reviews all ready.
Maybe its me, but it all comes across as a bit of an act to distract the audience
away from the fact that the other 3 dont actually do anything other than play their
instruments whilst on stage.
Theres no doubt that they are musos though, and playing the music properly is more important to them than putting on a performance. If this is the case, well fair enough, but then they shouldnt be playing large venues that demand a band grab the event by the scruff of the neck and demand that the audience take notice, theyd be much better suited to playing 3 nights at the Forum for example where they would certainly get a much better reception. There were moments in the set where things heated up for a few minutes. The People and Getaway pull it off, and the sheer bulldozing power of Walls Get Smaller cant help but impress, but unfortunately they are to few and far between.
It seems like The Music are going to be around for a while, and thats no bad thing in a world of 4 chords and attitude, but they need to broaden their musical horizons to really make an impression on the scene, but then again if you dig the album, then youd probably love them live. However, at the moment it seems a little bit like listening to paint dry. Exactly what it says on the tin?
|The Futureheads / A-Lines / The Quickies (Arts Cafť, London)|
The A-Lines are an all-girl four piece though to call them girls is pushing it as they have all been quaffing from the cup of life for some time. A couple of the tracks are Cramps style stompers (ones an Electric Eels cover) but its mostly girly punk Liliput meets the Mo-dettes meets the GoGos. They are cheeky and fun, and in their eccentric frontwoman they have an entertaining bouncy goggle eyed focal point. Imagine Anneka Rice after a bellyful of Mexican jumping beans with wires pulling parts of her face in every direction.
All in all not an unsatisfying warm-up but in all likelihood only one band will be remembered from the night in a few months time and thats the astonishing Futureheads. Its not so much the music which makes these young amiable Sunderland boys so special but the delivery. Imagine a barber shop trio, delivering different lines at different times at different pitches but all mixing together perfectly. And then speed it up in a punk stylee. This is all accompanied by the chopped and jagged guitar reminiscent of Wire, Weezer and especially XTC. Its all a pretty bizarre but highly enjoyable spectacle and you spend their set shifting your head from side to side as if at a tennis match. They save the best till last though with an amazing and barely recognisable cover of Hounds Of Love by Kate Bush complete with yelps and handclaps. So whilst I dont think their recorded product quite reaches the peaks they are capable of yet, dont judge them by that alone. Live, they are something special. Catch them now.
|Rezillos / Goldblade (Astoria 2, London)|
Half the appeal of seeing original old punk bands like these is of course seeing the old fans converge on a venue and arthritis and dodgy back permitting, mosh. There was plenty of that tonight and there will have been a fair few tired old limbs and hungover old balding heads the morning afterwards. Journo John Robbs band Goldblade kicked things off with an entertaining glam punk set, part Sweet part Subs.
The Rezillos took up the baton with a patchy performance. The problem wasnt so much them the plastic mini dressed Fay Fife still looks and moves like a woman frozen in her early twenties and Eugene Reynolds, though no longer the jutting square jawed figure of old still belts out the numbers as their choice of numbers. It was a short set, including about three separate encores, that was peppered with new material from their forthcoming new album. These were on the whole weak and clearly not what the majority of the audience had paid to hear. Still, there were a few class moments where classics were aired and these were worth the money. Destination Venus and Top of the Pops were greatly appreciated but it was the final track that went down best, the comedy punk of Somebodys Going to Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight.
|James Yorkston / Bis / Mountain Goats / Pink Grease (Mean Fiddler, London)|
When it comes to bands at a gig less can often be more, as was amply demonstrated by Pink Grease tonight. A bunch of made up Sheffield show offs who bought into the lack of talent need be no impediment end of the punk ethos. How to sum them up -big chinned bleach blonde 80s reject vocalist or the ginger afrod machine-gun-shaped-guitarist, who resembled nothing more than a Robot Wars contestant on a bender. Youll like them if you think leaping around shouting I want to fucking die for you, I want to die fucking you is big and clever.
So most of the audience breathed a sigh of relief to see the Mountain Goats a geeky pair of bowl-headed North Americans. Their recent Tallahassee album proves they do have some good gentle college-folk songs, but unfortunately the night was skewed towards the less impressive, more quirky efforts. Still they dredged up a couple of goodies once joined by a drummer, and a failing throat took the squeaky college edge off the vocal to good effect.
Then, as if by magic, Bis appeared. And it was like the last ten years never happened. This bunch of Glaswegians ran through a bunch of sample driven songs that called to mind nothing so much as Jesus Jones meets Mano Negra which is at least fun. Of course any band responsible for the Powerpuff Girls theme cant be all bad, and the football shirt clad blokes are obviously more St Mirren than Old Firm, but I cant help but feel a bit worried seeing nostalgia being pedalled to people younger than me.
As soon as Bis finished, the Dick Bruna/Hello Kitty girls drifted away to be replaced by earnest blokes waiting for James Yorkston. And the only disappointment was that the brevity of his set reinforced how much time had been wasted at the outset of the evening. After a patently lying Its good to be in London he ran through 4 or 5 of the gems from Moving up Country (Rough Trades album of 2002), before testing patience a little with a long folky rendition of the hard to get hold of Lang Toun (only a wate given how short a time he had). Yorkstons voice is not the strongest, but the songs are great somehow managing to wring lovely tunes from the potentially ropey, but sparingly used, combination of accordion, harmonica and double bass as well as guitar and tambour. And his turn of phrase was only enhanced by proximity to the plonking efforts of Pink Grease and trying too hard cleverness of the Mountain Goats. He spins lovely tales of everyday life and relationships with a dose of humour (the girl on the train wasnt giving me the eye she was just frightened Id steal her bags) to go with the songs. Were promised a good deal more than 40 minutes when he hits London again in April which will be well worth the trip.
|Herman DŁne / Woodchuck (London, Water Rats)|
Imagine getting in
on the Velvet Underground playing one of Warhols Exploding Plastic Inevitable gigs
in the Factory and then using that as your reference point for the next 30 years of music
criticism. Its like that with Herman DŁne tonight. Theyre
not pop, folk, anti-folk, country or Americana but theres a little of each of these
elements in a completely new and random shuffle. Theirs are simple and timeless
rhythms and soul-filled vocals, played in an outwardly loose but musically tightly
structured way. This is the benchmark that people will use, emulate, worship.
Any pretence of a setlist goes out of the window as David Herman DŁne readily responds to requests from the floor and we get brilliant versions of With A Tankful of Gas and Shakespeare and North Hoyne and whatever else the crowd wants to hear. The new songs, to be featured later in the spring on their Track and Field album, sound as good as, or perhaps even better than, the best of their previous albums. Red Blue Eyes is a lovely, mournful tune with a melody line like a turned-down mouth while the set closer Show Me The Roof (encore is far too conventional for Herman DŁne) is another brilliant piece of understated power with Neman playing a saw as well as his drumkit. Its hard to describe why it works so well. David and Andre have very different and atypical rock voices, ranging from junkie Lou Reed croak to Neil Young at his most keening. But when they sing together it melds perfectly, like the sun and rain can make a fecking rainbow. Add Nemans unobtrusive though essential drums and new recruit Lauras powerful backing vocals and double flute playing and youre on the road marked genius. Genius is a misunderstood and misabused word but maybe its apt tonight, when the familiar suddenly becomes transcendental.
|Falling Spikes (On the Rocks Club)|
A beautiful man greets us at the door of on the rocks and we feel chilled (i.e. freezing), in this darkened space with only a glitter ball for light, and a dubious looking porn type pole in the middle of the venue. The Falling Spikes are in good spirits considering this is their first official gig, the evening looks set to go well until Coin Op pull out at the last minute and the Spikes have to go on an hour later than they anticipated.
This young three piece reside in Basingstoke, apart from the drummer who is a northerner living in London. They consist of Steve, a John Squire-esq bass player, Oli, a young angst ridden singer, and a highly competent drummer Terry. Olis last band supported the Strokes when they were first over here and Terry has a few sessions with Noel Gallagher under his belt, Steve was with Lorca a Basingstoke based band that split up a couple of years ago. The Spikes set begins and Olis voice is like nothing you have heard before he is a talented bloke! His haunting voice carries the meaningful lyrics to Feel Alright, and as the crowd start to bob around to the songs the band gain confidence.
The Spikes play original songs, a couple are a little too long but thats what the young people like - Im told - all lyrics are by Oli with varied references to drugs and hospitals. Their music sounds like 60s psychedelic inspired rock with a few heart felt songs thrown in for good luck, a lot like Crispian Mills new band but other than that I cant make a comparison with any other band which is good! Furious Sunshine is a highlight. Phil from Death and Vegas showed his face, as did the singer from the IVs but all too quickly they finish and leave us waiting till the next gig. Anyone wanna sign the Falling Spikes, they definitely deserve a listen?!