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Beachwood Sparks 1  2
The Bellrays
Comet Gain
The Cure
The Donnas
Dress Bessy 1 2
Fantastic Super Foofs
The Kills
Jeffrey Lewis
The Liars
Licence to Destroy
Little Hell
The Loves 1 2
Miss Black America
the Projects
Seachange 1 2
Tender Trap 1 2
tompaulin 1 2
The Tyde 1  2
We Start Fires
James Yorkston
 MORRISSEY (Royal Albert Hall)

morrissey live.jpg (31157 bytes)How bizarre. An artist who has been without a record contract for five years can sell out the Royal Albert Hall two nights in a row. Even more bizarre, the artist in question is Morrissey, a man who rescued music in the eighties, a decade that was in dire need of music that was real, funny, sad and poetic, not faceless, formulaic tosh with bland production. Now more than ever we need a Morrissey, and while his best days are obviously behind him, it’s bloody good to see him back in Blighty.

He could have picked a better band to support him. Pony Club, or Pony Trek or Monkey Tennis or whatever they’re called, represent the downside of The Smiths’ legacy. Dull looking blokes on guitars going jingly-jangly, yet forgetting that you can only pull off the “I’m so cool I look like I don’t give a fuck” attitude if you have decent material to back you up.


Anyway, Morrissey. Yes he looked older and bigger, but as he pointed out, he is older, so of course he does. Kicking off, like the rest of the tour, with “I Want The One I Can’t Have”, the voice was in fine form and it was fantastic to see an old hero singing a song you never thought you’d hear live. Concentrating on material from first solo album “Viva Hate”, one could accuse him of being dried-up and allowing fans to wallow in nostalgia, However, these songs include “Suedehead”, “Everyday Is Like Sunday”, “Late Night, Maudlin Street”, and “Jack The Ripper”, songs with more lyrical wit, charm and originality than absolutely anything to be found in the charts. In this case, nostalgia is welcome. The only English lyricist to come close since is Jarvis Cocker.


Then came the dreaded moment. New material. New material rarely goes down well at gigs, and Morrissey’s last album, “Maladjusted” had a fair few slices of crap on there. However, the new stuff sounds like the best material he’s produced since “Your Arsenal”. In particular, “I Like You” would make a great comeback single, and “Irish Blood, English Heart” blew me away. While the lyrics weren’t clear, he seemed to denounce Tory’s, Labour and the Queen in a single verse, and the performance of this, and in fact all the new material, showed a man who felt comfortable about his past yet felt the need to prove that he was still worthy of an album deal.


And is he? Of course he fucking is! Even if his new material wasn’t as good as it was, so many people past their prime (if they ever had one) are allowed to continue, why not Mozza? Granted, he’s probably got enough money to start his own label, but that isn’t the point, it’s a matter of pride. Deserved pride as well when you see the passion he puts in the journalist-baiting “Speedway”, or seeing him writhing around as Boz Boorer pretends to mangle him with his chainsaw/guitar during a spectacular “Meat Is Murder”, a song I never thought would translate well live.


As Morrissey thanked his always adoring crowd, he seemed genuinely touched to have been there, despite expressing this in a typical Morrissey quote. “Thank you, you have made me a very happy man. However, how long it shall last I cannot say. It shall pass" Finishing with one of the most touching songs of the past sixteen years “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, one gets the feeling that, thankfully, we haven’t heard the last of this charming man.

Footnote: The Sun newspaper reported there were no young people there and everyone was in their thirties and forties. Guess what, The Sun was talking out of there behinds.


Review by Black Cockerel
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BUTTERFLIES OF LOVE / tompaulin / Comet Gain / Tendertrap (93 Feet East)

The Butterflies of Love  Seeing The Butterflies of Love seemed almost a reward for braving the tube strike and finding our way to East London and words alone can’t capture the magical experience of seeing them on stage.  Live, they’ve far more ragged and exciting than their cool, polished popgems of albums.  They look fairly unremarkable on stage: Daniel Greene resembles a NASA scientist who’s just lost another Mars probe and sings like Steely Dan; his unrelated namesake Jeffery Greene looks like comic Rich Hall and wisecracks all the way through the set, sweet-talking the mixing desk and practicing his French on the audience.  But attention never falters as singing duties are shared between the two Greenes, they switch from poppier numbers to broodier ones like Bad Habit, and they mix songs from both albums (Rob the Bank is particularly welcome).  It’s all swept along on waves of keyboards, sometimes tinkley and delicate, sometimes fat and honking.  Over It and Over It is rhythmic, succulent and intense while The Mutation is soulful, personal and echoey.  I’ll Be Your Exorcist is haunting (ha!), sweet and tender and a highlight of the night.  We leave during the encores to find a tubeless way home but the band, and Jeffrey Greene in particular, sound so up for it they could play all night. 


Reviewed by Ged
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tompaulin  Starting and ending with songs from the latest single, tompaulin show what an impressive array of tunes they have at their disposal. Give me a riot in the summertime, which on record starts of with a brooding rhythm, is more frenetic tonight and the anti-racist sentiments are sadly more relevant than ever in these heightened times of intolerance and the shared vocals of Jamie and Stacey add spleen and poignancy to it all.  The cheeky All the great writers and me (“Shakespeare’s got fuck all on me”) contains a great New Order bass line (I guess there’s something about plagiarism and poetry in there somewhere).  Boy Hairdresser starts off tender, acoustic and downbeat, moving into Velvet Underground territory and Swing Low Stuart is saved ‘til last – part narrative tale on record the latter section is all increasing feedback which falters tonight (ah, where is that feedback pedal when you need it?).  Whatever, tompaulin just seem to grow in majesty with each encounter. 


Setlist: Give me a riot in the summertime/All the great writers and me/Feel it comin’ on/Slender/Boy Hairdresser/Swing Low Stuart


Review by Kev

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Comet Gain  David Feck's guitar is customised with the slogan "heart full of soul".  And when Rachel turns up belatedly (thanks to the tube strike) halfway through the first number and puts down her bag, the word “soul” burns out from the side like a challenge to the crowd.  But do Comet Gain have soul?  They look like indie shufflers, their singing appalled at least one of my companions, and they don't have those soul flourishes (falsetto voices, talc on floor or the big trews) that sometimes distinguish the soul experience.  Then there's the fake cactus that for some reason appears on stage at the start of their set and stays there, despite neither Comet Gain nor the succeeding bands having any alt.country pretensions.  Yet Comet Gain have more soul that Mephistopheles after a particularly good day's bargaining.  Soul was an emotion before it was a style and Comet Gain are steeped in that elemental soul feeling: soaring melodies, frantic rhythms, the way their songs dip and swoop ‘til the way you feel depends on the notes they play, and lyrics that weep like blisters and hurt like fuck.  If they're a bit raw and untutored, it's because they're real, with all the chipped corners and bruised egos that real people have and they prove their own line that "heaven is the closest thing to hell".  They played lots from the brilliant 'Realistes' album which is so heartfelt as to be as definitively 'soul' as you can get (try the splendid I Close My Eyes to Think of God).  Listen to Rachel emoting on Why I Try to Look So Bad where all she’s waiting for is "a moment of true love" and tell me they haven't flicked through the darkest pages of the soul dictionary (vol 3, ‘Heartache to Misery’).  Maybe Rachel doesn't sing it in such an agonisingly sad way as she does on record but it still drips with emotion.  And the chugger-chugger way they play My Defiance, with its anti-REM jangly chorus, is similarly breathtaking: forceful, rumbling, abrasive and at same time sweet.  You pays yer money…but for my euros, Comet Gain keep the faith.


Review by Ged

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Tendertrap  Fighting against the sling and arrows of outrageous fortune…well, lost key to bass guitar case, forgotten tambourine and a tube strike which explains a less than full venue, Amelia apologises profusely for everything and Tendertrap launch into the infectious pop perfection of That Girl.   Tendertrap are a tremendously self effacing band and when things go awry – which they always seem to – the crowd are on their side.  So when the band start the rather Ivor Cutlerish Badge of Love and the drum machine decides it’s had enough and starts beating of its own accord, we laugh with the band as they scurry to switch the thing off.  Out of respect to the recalcitrant bit of microchippery they decide to drop the song and soldier on, finishing off with the ‘hit’ of the poptastic Oh Katrina.  Sublime.


Setlist : That Girl/Face of ‘73/SOnd of Dorian Gray/Apple Core/Badge of Love/Talk in Song/Unputdownable/Chemical Reaction/Oh Katrina

Review by Kev
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 THE BELLRAYS / License To Destroy  (Metro Club)

I quite like the Metro Club. There aren’t that many venues in the west end that are this small and allow the audience to get up close and personal with the performers, that don’t involve either involuntary neck spasms from trying to see the act on a 3 inch high stage, or run you the risk of getting your rib cage crushed from being jammed into a broom cupboard with 200 other people. It’s a bloody shame that the sound is so arse wipeingly bad though!


License to Destroy are a classic 3 piece line-up that have a sort of rough Fun Loving Criminals image. The drummer has mad eyes and flaying arms that are more than a facsimile of Animal from the Muppets, and the guitarists give it large moves on stage even though there’s limited space with the Bellrays backline taking up a considerable amount of space.  Trouble is, because of the appalling sound it’s hard to tell you honestly what they sound like! There were hints of Zep like riffs in the vein of Whole Lotta Love, and even Stooges licks in there, but due to being only to hear the bottom 3 strings of either guitar and absolutely no vocals making their presence above the wall of bassy noise I can’t say whether they were any good or not. The drums were mic’ed up, but couldn’t be heard through the PA system at all, and were only audible due to the ferocity that they were being hit with. They could be the future of rock and roll, but on this performance you’d never know either way. I’d give them another crack in the future, but not at this venue! 


So, following the previous debacle, it was with some reservation that I prepared myself for the Bellrays. It was obvious within 30 seconds of them starting up that they had the benefit of a sound check, as the sound was 100% better - though still not great.  Having reviewed them before there’s little more to say about them that I haven’t waxed lyrical about in the past. Power, riffs, tunes, vocal dynamics that could hammer nails into walls at 20 paces, the real deal writ big. They are a phenomenon live. This is a bad who have done it the hard way, gigging and gigging then gigging some more. The stage act has been honed from playing together so much that everything happens between the band automatically, and the songs just come on relentlessly. I doubt that any of the band even need a set list to follow as the tunes seem to fit together like a jigsaw. The album was recorded live, but doesn’t give them justice as a live act, sounding too raw and lacking production. Don’t be put off by that, as to see them live is to see the sort of band that you wished you could be in as a kid. They love doing what they do, and damn the critics if they don’t want to come along for the ride. It ain’t fashionable, but that ain’t the point - to coin a phrase “It’s about the music man!”.   Highlights were “Head on Upside Down” and the bludgeoning “Blues for Godzilla” though this time a few of the slower songs were given an airing, allowing Lisa to show the crowd that her voice isn’t all about power and passion, but is capable of dynamic range normally reserved for the classic blues singers of the 50’s. When she piles into the crowd and demands to know whether you are with her or not, it’s hard not to be caught up in the moment.   They play the Mean Fiddler on the 20th of September, and you really should be there. When the Rock and Soul bus comes to town, you’ll want to be on board. One things for certain, the sound will be better!



Reviewed by Bananas
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THE DONNAS / Mikabomb (The Garage)


“Fancy some Yank teen-girl punk on Tuesday night?” said my mate Ian. Hummmm, that’s an attractive proposition thought I. The Donnas. Heard of them, but don’t know much about their stuff. Give them a crack. Mikabomb? Not the foggiest, but what the hell. Take me to Highbury my good man and unleash the angry girlie music!


Mikabomb came on and my heart sank. Japanese girl band, with a couple of lurching blokes in there to carry the music along while they squeak into the mics and try to look cute and cross at the same time. I’d already decided that I wasn’t going to like them before they started. Just goes to show how wrong first impressions can be. They were great! Starting off like the Ramones with chipmunk vocals and getting heavier as the set rolled on into an Elastica on steroids type sound. The vocals were lost in the mix, but it doesn’t matter as the tunes were more than capable of carrying the songs. The singer has the look and stage presence akin to a mix of Sonya from Echobelly crossed with that girl with the silly coloured hair from Republica. Doesn’t sound good on paper, but she carries it off. As musicians, all of them are capable and competent enough to play these sort of tunes, and for once the girls were there not just as eye candy. This lot have potential, and could be big if luck swings their way. They play the Metro on the 20th of September, and are well worth a fiver of your money if you’ve got nothing else planned for your Friday evening.


The buzz in the audience for The Donnas was growing as they came on stage. Looking round the room a though struck me. Front and middle, lots of single blokes with wide eyes. Side and back, teen and 20 something girls in crop tops with feminist slogans on them. Is there a theme here somewhere? Is their popularity based on looks and sexuality (for the blokes) and feminine venom (for the ladies)? Oh, bollocks, it is!  2 songs in and both Ian and myself are shuffling about bored and totally disinterested. I wanted some hard core axe pounding punk with a sneering angry singer extolling the virtues of single life on the road with a band and just how much us blokes are bastards. Ian wanted anything but a poor copy of ZZ Top and AC-DC. Neither of us were happy. I’m sure I heard the intro to “Gimme All You Lovin’” and “Big Balls” on more than one occasion.  Yes, they are cute, and they can play to a point but it’s a totally un-involving experience seeing them live. The crowd was static and songs were greeted by the sort of applause that’s normally reserved for a nice defensive stroke at a test match. I need more than this to keep me entertained.  6 songs in and we’ve adjourned to the bar and are finding more entertainment in a prolonged discussion about the virtues of the UK Subs. See how bored we were?  By the 8th tune in Ian looks at me with the expression of a broken man who wants to go home, but wants me to suggest it. I do - we leave. I’m not normally the sort of person who leaves gigs early, but this time I was happy to oblige.  The Donnas in a sentence - all image and no substance. There’s little more you need to know. For your teenage (female) kicks I’d look to the Suffrajets for an all together better band with better tunes. And they’re English too.


Reviewed by Bananas
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THE KILLS / Seachange (London, Metro)


This was my second chance to catch Seachange within a month, and it confirmed my previous opinion of them. A tight band with a good sonic range, willing to try and push musical boundaries without tipping themselves over the cliff of shoe gazing. As a 6 piece it’s difficult for them to be exactly explosive on stage without falling into each other, but they do try to be engaging. The guitarists flail at their instruments during the noisier moments, and the singer staggers about with the air of an angry Ashcroft with 3 neck vertebrae removed. The violin is totally lost in the horrible acoustics of the Metro Club, but probably adds a huge amount of dynamics on record, especially when combined with the vocal gymnastics that the singer pulls off at times. The guitars play largely in tandem, one playing lower power chords, the other mimicking him with interesting shapes further up the fret board. Tied together with delay out of phase it makes an impressive and big sound which will sound frankly awesome should they commit it to tape. Combine this with a tight simplistic bass, and the most animated drummer I have clapped eyes on in years (4 songs in and he was absolutely knackered - marvelous!) and you have a band which can’t fail to impress. At times they try too hard to be note perfect, but this is a small gripe. With more gig experience they will loosen up and play with more confidence. This will add to their stage presence and ultimately they may actually look like they’re enjoying themselves!  The final song of the set was a bad choice being a slow grower that failed to actually come to a peak. Tip for you guys - finish on something big in future, cos as an unknown band, people tend to remember you for your last song when they talk about you afterwards.  One of the better new bands I’ve seen recently. I await their album, just to see whether they can create the live sound in a studio environment.


Reviewed by Bananas


After the brilliant Black Rooster EP, our experience of the Kills live was a downer.  What they do is being done by others, notably the White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it’s a plain fact that the others do it better.  The set up is simple: Jamie Hince (‘Hotel’) and Alison Mosshart (‘VV’) play and sing, and the drum machine adds everything else.  He, in leather jacket and haircut that you’d sue your mum for giving you, glares intensely at her; she, in jeans and t-shirt, does a jittery dance, hides shyly behind her fringe and clings to the mike like Bobby Gillespie doing an impression of Iggy Pop.  And that’s the uncharismatic and unconnected extent of it.  VV occasionally sounds like PJ and, at times, the bluesy punk of Black Rooster and Cat Claws wins through, but somehow, and maybe unrealistically, we expected more.


Reviewed by Ged
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ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS / Chris Difford (Hammersmith Apollo)


Chris Difford did a 'best of Squeeze' set (Take Me I'm Yours, Tempted, Up the Junction, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), Labelled with Love, Black Coffee in Bed and Cool for Cats) with a couple of his solo songs thrown in for good measure, one of which was, bizarrely, about how he loved cowboys, particularly in chaps in the kitchen!  He did then go on to explain that he had written it for a woman, but couldn't find one to sing it. There was a woman with a perfectly good voice standing next to him - her only fault being that she was not Glenn Tilbrook, so the Squeeze songs didn't sound quite right, but the audience didn't seem to mind.   

Difford told us several times what great songs they were and what a great band Squeeze was before plugging his solo stuff (on sale in the foyer), allegedly at the request of his band as he was, he told us, "a modest man". That said, he broke in the ageing audience gently, even if he did forget the words at one point - well, he has only been singing it for about 20 years.


Elvis came on with a roar, woke up anyone who might have dropped off due to the excessive temperature, and rocked for the next 2 hours and 20 minutes, slowing down only occasionally for songs such as Good Year for the Roses and Shipbuilding.  Having told us early on that on this tour he had re-learned songs that he had forgotten, the set was a mix of the very old and the very new, with not much in between.  He played about half of When I Was Cruel (45, Spooky Girlfriend, Tear Off Your Own Head, When I Was Cruel no.2, 15 Petals, Tart, Alibi and Episode of Blonde). The rest of the set was not a conventional 'best of'. Some of the obvious songs were there such as Accidents Will Happen, Pump It Up, (I don't want to go to) Chelsea and Oliver’s Army), but there was no Alison and no Watching the Detectives. Instead he played the more unexpected such as I'll Wear it Proudly, The Other Side of Summer, Human Hands, Almost Blue, and (What's so funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.  25 years on, like a fine wine, Elvis has matured, but he hasn't lost the edge of the angry young man of his youth (and he managed to remember all the words and didn't once tell us how great the songs were!)


Reviewed by Paula
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THE TYDE / tompaulin / Kicker (Water Rats, London)

the tyde live.jpg (29790 bytes)Hitching the first stage coach into town are those alt-country rockers, The Tyde.  Fronted by Darren Rademaker, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to 70s blonde heartthrob Leif Garrett they play deliciously melodic schmoooove tunes accompanied by Ann Do’s sublime parping keyboards.  Imagine Bob Dylan, Glenn Campbell, Felt and Teenage Fanclub all bunged into a blender. Their set opens gloriously with all their pop classics from the album and recent EP: All My Bastard Children, the short and pacey Crystal Canyons, the haunting brooding Teenage Fanclub-esq Play It as it Lays, the Lloyd Cole-ish Improper and the optimistic Blood Brothers.    Then the Tyde turns so to speak as they slow things down with the more country-ish numbers including Your Tattoos and Silver’s Okay Michelle.  Lovely, just lovely.  

Reviewed by Mawders


tompaulin tonight are noisier and more assertive than we remember them.   From the Mary Chain bassline in Carcrash to the drenching feedback at the end of Swing Low Stuart, the band match sweet vocals with barbed guitar noise and exchange confession for confrontation.  On record, Give Me a Riot in the Summertime is edgy and compressed, a piece of literate reportage that invites you to read into it what you can (buy it by the way; it’s the most intelligent and challenging record that you’ll hear all summer).  Live, it’s more outspoken and colours-wearing.  It has a new physicality and a new brutality as tompaulin firmly establish it as an anti-nazi anthem.  It’s played with such gusto and such belief that it sweeps through the crowded Water Rats and is the high water mark of the set.  The same closed northern attitudes that stimulated the writing of that song are captured in a different way on The Boy Hairdresser.  It has a sad poignancy as Jamie starts alone and acoustically, voice cracking with feeling, before the band join in halfway through.  One ed felt cheated they hadn’t played their “best” track ‘It’s a Girl’s World’ but the rest of us had already answered tompaulin’s call to arms. 


Set list: Slender/ My Life as a Carcrash/ All the Great Writers and Me/ Give Me a Riot in the Summertime/ Feel It Comin’ On/ Short Affairs/ The Boy Hairdresser/ Swing Low Stuart.

Reviewed by Ged

Crammed onto the tiny stage of the venue, six piece Kicker have come to entertain us with their brand of strongly melodic northern soul/r’n’b influenced songs. One Fine Day is a perfect example of a northern soul stomper complete with trumpet. Since You Left also contains a stomping back beat and although the vocals seem to fail against the live music – causing a moan or two from my left – it is ultimately a perfect pop song.  Kicker end, walking off to the reverberations of elongated hypnotic riffing of Get Rid of Him in our ears.  OK minor league perhaps, but who needs the big boys when you have Kicker around?


Set list: Boy/One Fine Day/New Fella/Since You Left/Tomorrow/Said and Done/No More/Get Rid of Him.

Review by Kev

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BEACHWOOD SPARKS / The Tyde (93 Feet East, London)


When The Tyde come on (come in?), we’re transported by the warm, harmony-hooked melodies to a curious place: if East Kilbride were a subdivision of East LA, if the West Midlands were on the West Coast, The Tyde would be the sound coming out of every garage (but they’d then be called lock-ups).  The Tyde play a bright, Californian pop shot through with touches inspired by British bands: Lloyd Cole, Orange Juice, Felt, acoustic Jesus and Mary Chain….there’s even the merest hint of ‘Brimful of Asha’ on the witty, bouncy Blood Brothers too. 


Soul isn’t defined by genre and The Tyde play the sweetest soul music: check out Darren Rademaker’s doleful voice on Your Tattoos, the lyrics to Improper and the sunny harmonies that embellish many of the songs.  All My Bastard Children is full of sweeps and drops, like an airplane in turbulence, where you realise seconds later that you were so focused on the moment that you forgot to breathe.  Ann Do’s keyboards are mesmeric throughout, lush on All My Bastard Children, warm and mushy on Strangers Again and cascading full-on and Felt-like through Crystal CanyonsNorth County Times is like the Velvet Underground spitting out Route 66, a little bit country and a lot hypnotic.  Silver’s OK, Michelle ends the set on a slowburning psychedelic Neil Young/Crazy Horse note, dropping the pace, mellowing the mood and letting us down very gently.  If there is a special relationship between the US and UK, The Tyde give it new meaning in each of their songs.  


Though the Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde share three members, the Sparks’ inspiration is different: most people rightly mention ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ Byrds and Gram Parsons.  We saw them at the Spitz two weeks’ previously and they play a similar set (biggest difference is Chris Gunst’s number 1 cut hairstyle since we first saw them).  Tracks from the new album like the opener Hibernation are haunting, ethereal and introspective.   The Sun Surrounds Me is pacier, with suggestions of Orange Juice, while You Take the Gold is ecology-friendly, tree-hugging Parsons.   The playing is lovely and the band never sound simply retro as they expose the soul of country music.  Maybe on the night the change of pace from The Tyde’s preceding set is a bit too much but the ability of the Sparks to write such affecting songs puts a little bit of tree in all of us as we run through the concrete and curry of Brick Lane to make our last trains home.  


Reviewed by Ged
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PENETRATION / Greenhaus    (Camden Underworld)

Greenhaus are a foursome playing techno/trance music awash with keyboards, samples and electronic drums but with the addition of a lone guitar adding muscle to the soundscapes with some spiky riffing and feedback.  The numbers are mostly instrumental with some taped spoken vocals.  There are obvious comparisons to Orbital with a touch of Gary Numan, who the band has supported and remixed.  A compelling set ended with a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’. (www.greenhaus.co.uk).


I could make some cheap double entendres about how much I’ve enjoyed Penetration over the years; but I won’t.  In my youth they were one of my hero bands; melodic punk fronted by sweet-voiced Pauline Murray, who, along with Siouxsie, I always had a thing for.  They had a sizeable following but never made the big league, and their somewhat lacklustre albums never did justice to the energy, power and charisma of their live show.  Their second album ‘Coming Up For Air’ has recently been re-released on the excellent Captain Oi! label (www.captainoi.com).  I was at their (until now) last ever gig, also at Camden.  It was a brilliant night with the band in high spirits and at their best, ending with 3 encores and a foam pie fight on stage.  The reformed band retain the nucleus of Murray, Gary Smallman on drums and Robert Blamire on bass, with two new guitarists.  Tonight they opened with their cover of ‘Nostalgia’, a song they made as much their own as The Buzzcocks’.  After that it was a greatest hits collection as they ran through ‘Lovers of Outrage’, ‘Life’s a Gamble’ (why wasn’t this a hit single?), ‘Free Money’, ‘Danger Signs’ (why wasn’t this a hit single?), ‘She is the Slave’ etc.  Pauline Murray’s voice sounds just the same as it always did and the new guys are ample replacements for Neale Floyd and Fred Purser.  The venue was packed, mostly by people who looked old enough to have been there first time round, and they all sang along to the classic ‘Don’t Dictate’.  The set ended with ‘Shout above the Noise’ and the encore was ‘Stone Heroes’ and the evergreen ‘Firing Squad’.  It was just like the last 23 years hadn’t happened.  The band were obviously glad to be back, and so were we.  (www.loversofoutrage.co.uk)


Review by Sleezy
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DRESSY BESSY/ The Loves / We Start Fires (Water Rats,  London)
dressy29.jpg (27447 bytes)The Aztecs loved chocolate, worshipped it like gold.  It must have been that feeling when the molten chocolate slides down your throat and sets your pleasure centres racing faster than a whippet on steroids.  When Dressy Bessy play, it’s one of those Mars Bar moments when the pure garage pop confection hits the spot exactly and the old C86 band name/question is answered: Remember Fun?  It’s right here in front of you if you know where to look, as about sixty intelligent souls do tonight.

It’s pop, it’s soul and it’s garage-rock at heart: Dressy Bessy are the link between the Sonics and the Supremes, with much in common too with the Crystals and Cheap Trick.  Every song’s a sub-three minute polished gem, from Just Like Henry to I Saw Cinnamon to…take your pick from the wondrous two albums and the California EP.  When did you last hear of a band, so obviously enjoying themselves onstage, who keep the between songs banter to an absolute minimum so they can cram in as many songs as possible?  Live, they’re rawer and rockier than on record.   Live to Tell All has a supercharged Motown beat to go with the pugnacious ‘fight for the right to party’ lyrics and demands a set of Soul Train dancers.  Super*Everything is a glorious teen-pop anthem and Extra-Ordinary is a crashing distillation of all those great 60s Spector-Beatles-Donovan hooks wrapped into a wall of sound pop song.  California is a mythical sea and sandscape distilled into 3 minutes of pristine pop brilliance and as evocative as anything by the Beach Boys.  You might see lots of great gigs but it’s rare that you’re in one where you really don’t want the gig to finish or care what time the last train leaves – they played 18 songs and we’d still have been cheering, dancing and chinstroking if they’d played 38 songs.  As a qualified chocoholic, I can say with authority, this was a sublime Mars Bar moment. 

(See more pix of Dressy Bessy here - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)


Set-list: Girl, You Shout!/ Jenny Come On/ If You Should Try To Kiss Her/ I Saw Cinnamon/ Just Being Me/ Maybe Laughter/ Lookaround/ Super*Everything / Just Like Henry/ Hangout Wonderful/ Big To Do/ Live To Tell All/ Flower Jargon/ California/ Extra-Ordinary / Carry On/ That’s Why/ Better Luck


The Riot-Grrrl We Start Fires don’t disappoint with their set despite a keyboard breakdown and the loss of the bass player since their appearance at Ladyfest the previous Friday.   They’re Throwing Muses/Tanya Donnelly, the Breeders at their most melodic, a bit Helen Love, and have a well-developed pop sensibility.  We didn’t really notice the absence of the bass, although the spiky guitar and harmonies stood out. 


lovese.jpg (31937 bytes)We didn’t see The Loves at their best either, though despite broken strings and the threat of joke-telling they still impress. Boom-a-Bang-Bang-Bang is perfect bubblegum pop and Me and Bobby D shows a lyrical depth and playfulness while Little Girl Blues is straight-to-the-heart noisy garage-pop.  Shit, those are the singles!  If they can keep producing songs like that, then they’ll be minor pop gods at least.  

Reviewed by Ged
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Beachwood Sparks (Spitz, London)


Their website claims their music “isn’t an echo of yesterday as much as a new voice well-versed in the ways of the past”.  So you get Gram Parsons, the Byrds circa Sweetheart of the Rodeo and Buffalo Springfield but also blues and soul and flashes of humour in a snatch of New Order’s ‘Ceremony’, proving that, for all the hair, denim and songs about a semi-mythical America, they’re not just into contacting OD-ed country rockers via oiuja board.   The opener Hibernation and, later, Drinkwater, both from the ‘Make the Robot Cowboys Cry’ mini-album, are dreamy psychedelia but are rockier and less somnolent than the album versions.  You Take the Gold is carried forward on lovely vocal harmonies and easy melodies washed with Dave Scher’s gorgeous pedal steel guitar.  Ghost Dance 1492, their version of ‘Six Days on the Road’ is storming, punchy and even a bit Ramones-punky.  They close with the wondrous By Your Side, which in its original 80s Sade form was glutinous supper-club jazz but the Sparks render it movingly as a James Carr-like country-soul ballad.   Gram would be proud of his Cosmic American Music boys.


Reviewed by Ged
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THE LIARS / Miss Black America / Some Product / Terrashima / Joan of Ass (London Dingwalls)


Joan of Ass are semi-naked, foul mouthed art school trollops who slap each other and generally goof around to an electroclash backing.  It’s entertaining but for no more than a couple of minutes.  The same should be said of Terrashima, a hardcore punk four piece.  The tunes are almost indecipherable but the whole performance is strangely compelling.  Beer cans fly around the stage whilst speakers fall off it, performers slip in their own spilt alcohol, strings break, leads constantly unplug from amps… it’s all very shambling and you half expect someone to get hurt any moment.  But you remain, eyes fixed on the stage, as if witnessing the aftermath of a road accident.  Most of the appeal is down to the psychotic frontman, a mad eyed screamer, with a voice like a barrel of swilling gravel.  Recommended - grizzly but gripping.


Miss Black America also have a pretty enigmatic frontman, Seymour, whose limb movements resemble the late Ian Curtis, jerky uncontrollable jabs prodding invisible foes.  Between tracks he’s entertaining too with his mildly camp estruary accented putdowns.  The rest of the band are tight and able and a fair few of the songs begin with the gentle string plucking favoured by Idlewild (ie REM) before launching into rock mosh.  The quality of the songs was just short of big time material but there’s enough there to suggest they could still make it.


Some Product is an American female singer songwriter with a dull monotone delivery and off-key strumming.  Quite how she was billed above MBA and Terrashima is difficult to fathom and I was relieved when she finished her set. 


Headliners, New York’s The Liars, weren’t the young garage punk band I’d somehow expected but a quartet of older mullet headed spuds playing an eclectic mix of material influenced by early Fall, Anthrax and Beasties beatbox rap.  Whilst I couldn’t doubt their abilities as musicians, I’d seen enough after twenty minutes to decide it wasn’t for me.   They are however original enough to merit the enthusiasm of many in the crowd. 


Reviewed by Mawders
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Fantastic Super Foofs / Caretaker / Librium / Seachange (Dublin Castle)

Club Fandango, who organised this night, asked everyone as they entered whom they had come to see.  This is then used to calculate a band’s share of the proceeds at the end of the gig apparently.  I hope the first band on, Seachange, had big baggy pockets because they’d need them to carry all their lolly back home to Nottingham.  The place was nearly packed and clearly these were one of the main reasons why.  Having won a Battle of the Bands contests at the Social and supported Trail of Dead, they were not short of confidence.  They are not short of effort too; their drummer started the gig pounding each beat from a ninety degree angle – believe me it takes some stamina to do that for more than a few seconds.  With the addition of keyboards and violin, they’re not limited to the normal routes of a rock band so we are treated to a variety of songs and influences with the Strokes, Spacemen 3, Stereolab and the Stooges all getting a credit.  Excellent and look out for their debut single soon.

Librium also go down well with a large number of the audience, particularly the young spangly faced girls dressed like little goth princesses. Yes, they are one of those bands.  Think Placebo, Rachel Stamp, My Vitriol, early Manics - glammed up rock but fronted by a six foot painted Easter Island faced statue with a Flock of Seagulls hairstyle.  They at least made me laugh as frontman Sami chucked a pint of water over himself at the finale before launching off into the crowd, knocking people sideways.  He was presumably off to the gents to sort his barnet out but such is low budget rock n roll he had to sheepishly return to lug his amp and guitar off the stage. Ha! 


If Seachange and Librium had enough cash to stop the van at the services on the way home and treat themselves to a Ginsters pie or two then Winchester’s Caretaker surely spent the night at Waterloo sleeping under the arches, fighting the pigeons for discarded chips.  Only four people came to see them and they were lucky to get that many.  All their songs, sounded the same; slow start prior to chugged rawk guitars and not a single riff of note was emitted.  Surprisingly they even had a stall to sell T-shirts and singles.  Unsurprisingly business was not brisk.


Headliners, Welsh three piece the Foofs did exactly what I expected of them following their recent super and er fantastic second single, Bilo Boss.  They blasted out hook laden punky pop rock and roll gems.  Imagine Weezer, Nirvana, the Pixies, Sugar and the Vines topped with a voice part Kurt Cobain, part Kelly Stereophonic.  They were men amongst the boys tonight and it showed.  Make sure the next time they hit the M4 you’re at the other end of the motorway to meet them.  Set list: Coming Outside, Timmy Zuckermann, My God You Showed, Sharpen Pens, Bilo Boss, Devan Endo, Made in China, Eso’s Review, learn to deal with your own particular problem.


Reviewed by Mawders
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The Cure (Hyde Park, London)

This is the Cure’s first English show since the awful Bloodflowers gig at Wembley 2 years ago where the band looked bored and so were the audience until the last thirty minutes of encore.  Today the sun was shining which was a blessing as rain had been chasing Cure open air gigs all over Europe.   Around 8pm the intro tape ran out and Plainsong began, accompanied by Robert’s religious walkabout.  From here on in we got what was by no means a standard show but a hardcore albums Cure set which pleased all but the handful who came for the ‘Party’ Cure. 

Robert had said in an interview that he wanted the Cure’s live performances  to move on so this was an opportunity to perform a few oldies.  Therefore amongst the two and a quarter hours were some live rarities – Siamese Twins, Pornography, The Baby Screams and The Drowning Man.  For the first encore he told us “25 years ago we played as a three piece and this was what we did…” before launching into 3 Imaginary Boys followed by killer versions of M, Play for Today and the greatest Cure record ever, A Forest, which normally closes a Cure gig.  But not today.  The Cure then did something I’ve never known them do before; they played a couple of covers – Alex Harvey’s The Faith Healer and Thin Lizzy’s Don’t Believe A Word before finally turning into party Cure and delivering Inbetween Days, Just Like Heaven and Boys Don’t Cry

A perfect day, lots of beer, sunshine and free ice cream.  Perfect.  Too damn right.

Reviewed by Tone
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Little Hell (Tower Records Festival, Picadilly Circus London)


If Little Hell really are sent by Lucifer to lead our kids down the fiery path to his humble hot abode then the Arcangel of Evil really has a great sense of humour.  “Some people turn to God while others become saints or goody goody gum drops  I tell you this beast rocks”  (Smart Kids Rock). I mean who’s he kidding?  Still, the corny lyrics are not the only reason why you have to love Little Hell.  There’s the slight matter of some of the best riffs to emit from a pair of speakers in quite some time. Think Wildhears, think Pixies, think Sugar, think Iron Maiden, think RAAAAAAWK! 


Yes, this was only a short set, a mere seven tracks but it was about as sweet as a bucket of Dead Sea water. Blistering full-on rock n roll with so much effort that you feared vocalist Steve Ludwin’s blood engorged head was about to explode.  Stop for breath man!  His howled delivery brings back memories of vintage Pixies’ Frank Black but with the added gem of a little natural reverb which really makes him something special.  Great tunes too, especially Bottomless Pit and the wonderful single of the year, Virus with Shoes.  Let Little Hell give you the horn.


Setlist: Hemotoxic, Virus With Shoes, Smart Kids Rock, Everybody’s Cursed, Hurting For Pleasure, Bottomless Pit, Lose It Now.


Reviewed by Mawders
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James Yorkston (Tower Records Festival, London)

Playing just four songs after an overrun by the reasonably bouncy Mew (whose bestubbled guitarist was perhaps the posiest bloke seen since the mid-eighties) baity Scottish folkmeister James Yorkston appeared not to quite be up to speed on the etiquette of early evening in-store appearances.  Trapped in the near melting basement of Tower Records with a row of nu-metal teens pumped up on Sunny D he played both his first two songs – including the recent fantastic single “St Patrick” – slowed down to the point of leeching out any last remnants of commerciality.  When one of the aforementioned teens got bored mid song he was invited to “…fuck off you fat cunt”, which at least got the attention of some of the shoppers browsing the singles at the back. Our man cracked though and turned in full-tempo storming versions of old folk song “I know my love” (introduced as “a System of a Down number”) and the paean to Fife life, “the Lang Toun”.  Short, sometimes bad-tempered, totally lacking in any attempt to sell records and sometimes brilliant - what did I say about instore appearances?  I reckon James Yorkston’s got it just about right.

Reviewed by SPT
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Jeffrey Lewis (The Spitz, London)

I can’t make Jeffrey Lewis out. OK, he is an oddity, he’s low-fi (anti) folksy.   He’s thin, nerdy looking (baggy jeans and t-shirt) long haired (I mean long – he could wipe his own arse with it, probably), with a soft timid croaking voice which makes him sound uncertain or about to burst into tears.  But it somehow seems contrived and I wonder if this naivety is simply mannered.  He seems unsure on stage, as if under-rehearsed yet we later learn he spent two hours in the sound check.  Mmmm.  He starts off with a sticker covered acoustic guitar, East River is humorous downbeat Dylan (what’s the point of having a girl, she’ll leave me anyway, and I’ll throw myself in the river, boo hoo) , whilst you begin to worry that on Life he will not manage to cram all the words in astehrearefartoomanyandhehastosaythemfast.  He performs his ‘video’ (him singing without accompaniment as turns pages of a large drawing book showing scenes from the song…), is then joined by a band, with a song with a background sounds of whales’ singing (which, strangely, works) and on to the hilarious Don’t Want LSD Tonight (written in response to people keep giving him acid ‘cos of his own The last time I did acid I went insane).  Still scratching me head on this one (no, not nits).

 Review by Kev
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DRESSY BESSY  (Happy Robots Festival, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading)

Dress Bessy (Artist's Impression) “It’s too moist in here!” yells Tammy, chanteuse and guitarist for Dressy Bessy to the amusement of the audience.  And she wasn’t kidding, the sweat was dripping off the likeable Denver four piece in floods as they powered their way through a twenty four track set.  Somehow they overcame the lack of air conditioning (and remember Americans live and die in chilled bubbles), poor sound and low turnout.  And hot diggedity dog, were they good.  They pluck out some of the best in 60s harmonies (Beach Boys and the Shirelles) and couple it with the cartoon pop of the Archies and sugary classic indie Britpop of the 80s (Talulah Gosh and the Flatmates).  It’s a sweet candy coated formula that leaves you happy to risk the dentist’s chair. 


The songs are mainly pulled from the two great albums, most clocking little more than a couple of minutes.  Highlights are Jenny Come On, I Found Out, Tag, I Saw Cinnamon, Make-up and the garage pop of That’s Why.  Indeed there’s a spattering of newer numbers and these all seemed to be harder and less cutesy than the album tracks suggesting a new rockier garage influence. One track even sounded like the Strokes, a killer riff over tight bass.  The band themselves have an almost cartoon like appearance, the three backing boys all sporting rather unpleasant black bubble perms and the jokey ‘threats’ from the guitarist to the audience leave everyone roaring back.  But it’s Tammy who captures your attention.  On record her voice is so sugar sweet it sounds almost fragile.  Indeed prior to the gig I had foolishly expressed a fear that it might not be up to a live performance.  How wrong I was, the vocals are strong and powerful, outshining even the excellent rhythm and bass accompaniment.  


So why are Dressy Bessy not huge?  Why are they playing to forty people in an Arts Centre rather than selling out the Forum.  Why are they merely achieving cult status?  I’ve no real idea but if it means you can get to see the best pop band on the planet in little venues like this then just be thankful.


Reviewed by Mawders

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THE PROJECTS (Happy Robots Festival, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading)


The hall is pretty moist by the time The Projects come on but any limpness is immediately dispelled by the refreshing blast of cool angular Europop from the direction of the stage.  The Projects used to be Miss Mend and have now been joined by Morgane Lahote from Stereolab.  There’s a hint of spacerocky Stereolab about them, particularly in the squirly keyboard moods and the singer’s French pop tones but more of a feel of post-punk Gang of Four to them in their spiky, dischordant pop pieces and a hint of Pavement at times (e.g. on Monument) in the way they are in quick succession atonal, rhythmic and suddenly melodic.  The sound is layed and seems to work on contrasts: male Robert Forster monotone against female Europop chanteuse, a melody that is bullied by discordant guitar and Casiotone squeak, light pop choruses against dark jagged verses.  It’s still work in progress but the ‘rockier’ numbers tonight best suggest their potential.  The title of the new single Entertainment harkens back to that Gang of Four comparison and it’s their best song tonight (and future Track and Field single).  It’s the most melodic thing they play but it’s cut across by angular guitar, unsettling drum patterns and disorientating keyboards that pull and twist the melody.  More for the brain than for the feet tonight but that’s bound to come. 

Reviewed by Ged
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TENDER TRAP  (Happy Robots Festival, The Rising Sun Arts Centre, Reading)


The Rising Sun Arts Centre is a charming, ‘intimate’ setting where the band is at the same level as ourselves.  Suffering slightly from a small PA system, which has to handle the programmed backing as well as Amelia’s confident vocals, Tender Trap nevertheless manage to deliver a fine set that comprises songs from the wonderful Film Molecules album - reflecting the band’s range of indiepunk (Chemical Reaction), electropop (Fin, That Girl) to indie ballads (Emma, Talk in Song).  


Vocalist Amelia is friendly, chatting to audience between songs, making various apologies and laughing with the rest of us when there are, er, ‘technical hitches’.  Fin starts of the proceedings nicely with driving programmed synth bass lines and percussion over which Rob lays guitar and DJ adds rootnote (probably) bass.  Face of ’73 sounds stripped of its heavy depechemode leanings of the CD for more a indie gtr based sound and works well.  Apple Core – a new song (with warnings from Amelia that she may forget the words) - comes across as choppy punky indie pop and takes us into - after various false starts with the drum machine – the pell mell of Chemical Reaction.  Thing slow down with the stripped vocals and guitar of Emma and the downcast Talk In Song.  Finally finishing, all to soon, with the sublime pop of the single Oh Katrina which if you don’t have, well…why not get the album?


Set List: Fin/That Girl/Face of ‘73/Son of Dorian Gray/Apple Core/Chemical Reaction/Emma/Talk in Song/Unputdownable/Oh Katrina


Reviewed by Kev

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SALOON La Jetée (London, Institute of Contemporary Arts)


It’s not easy to describe this performance.  The music took its cues from the film but it wasn’t a soundtrack – it took too much of the attention for that.  But it wasn’t a standalone piece with the film as novelty backdrop either.  This was an event where the film and band shared the same space and made you work doubly hard to process the sights and sound.  It’s an experience both cerebral and visceral and enjoyable both ways, perfect for simultaneous chinstroking and head nodding.  It was the first time I’d seen the film (the hundredth time I’d heard about it) so was busy piecing together the story from the stills while trying to appreciate the music, which was by turns mournful and pacey, incorporating Bicycle Thieves.  A perfect (and short) combination, which I hope they’ll repeat. 

Reviewed by Ged

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 WIRE   (London, Institute of Contemporary Arts)


Your ‘pretension’ is my ‘knowing application of practical intelligence’ but, tonight, you might have a point.  The support is solo Wire members and their satellites.  It starts with a spotlight focused on a locker in a corner of the room as a drone that is half slowed down fire alarm, half Sunday morning hangover, fills the room.  Having disoriented us, it’s followed by a video of Lewis singing and displaying an incredibly irritating number of facial twitches and a pretty pointless film about the M25.  Best of the warm up is a bootleg video by Colin Newman’s son, Bumpy, which meshes Eminem’s ‘Without You’ with the theme from Thomas the Tank Engine.  It’s crude but artlessly entertaining and a lesson to his elders. 


Wire would be artschool punks if they weren’t so patently self-taught and maybe that wilfulness explains the way they’ve been able to regenerate like Doctor Who.  The latest incarnation is promoting the Read and Burn EP, which is generally loud, fast and short.  This sums them up pretty well tonight: they’re a big bass rumble, pounding drums and guitars rhythmically chugachuging as Newman sings/gurns over the top, except for when Lewis sweatily sings The Agfers of Kodack.  It’s good and the (older) crowd love it but nothing really penetrates the brain like the first encore Lowdown which is utterly crushing in its slowed down malevolence.  At the risk of being ageist, there’s a feeling like seeing your old teachers, who you knew were in a band once, reunited for a one-off gig at a school reunion.  It’s good in a slightly nostalgic way, and it’s a lot less embarrassing than seeing a bitter old trout like Lydon rail against the dying of his light, but it doesn’t seem as vital as it once was.  Maybe that’s just me getting old.

Reviewed by Ged
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 CINERAMA   (Dingwalls)


Degrassi are on first; I’ve been impressed by them on Peel but tonight their anodyne rock by numbers doesn’t do them any favours.  Dingwalls is a smaller venue than usual for Cinerama and is jam-packed with Cinerama fans.  Cinerama’s appeal must be their lack of pretension or starriness.  It’s the same sort of feeling as when I lived in a house with members of two bands and you’d go along to support your mates’ gigs because they were mates – the Cinerama fanbase seems similarly devoted.  Obviously a lot is down to David Gedge.  He’s ursine and earthy and treats the crowd like the people he’d be moshing with if he wasn’t on stage.  Sadly he’s got less banter tonight than usual which is a shame as his chat is the least planned part of the gig.  Cinerama give the audience exactly what they came for: a Cinerama set.  A few Wedding Present numbers, tracks from the new album – including the sparky new single Quick Before It Melts – and some old favourites.  Corduroy and Wow are the best of the bunch, despite a musical hiccup where they have to restart Corduroy.  And given his fairly one-track mind when it comes to songwriting, Gedgey sings his observational songs of lust, guilt and considered infidelities brilliantly using prosaic, colloquial language (reminds me a bit of poet Simon Armitage) while the band back him with a very controlled rhythm.  All credit to him for finding new ways to relate his specialist subject of relationships and what goes wrong with them.  He explains (again) how they don’t do encores and then, Health and Efficiency complete, works his first miracle: he puts down his guitar and suddenly he’s behind the merchandising stall, chatting, signing and selling.   Wormholes, cloning or transporter technology?  Dunno, but it was the biggest surprise of the night.  


Set list: Bewitched/ 146 degrees/ Careless/ Get up and go/ Kansas/ Cat girl tights/ It's a gas/ Starry eyed/ Your time starts now/ Quick before it melts/ And when she was bad/ Octopussy/ Your charms/ Corduroy/ Wow/ Health and Efficiency

Reviewed by Ged

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 SUEDE    (Mardi Gras, Hackney Marshes)


A strong performance from the first from an energetic and accomplished line-up, hauling out some great songs from their back-catalogue.  Brett has clearly been working out, though fortunately not too much. 


They opened with Beautiful Loser (a newie), followed hot on the heels by She, and a crowd-pleasing Trash – who cares if the high-pitched ‘trraaaaaashhhhhh’ from the audience drowned out the sound of the band?; it was immaterial whether the band hit the right note – or even the right lyrics.  They were so good that even the shower of chocolate Frosties scattered by some close-by boy-muso failed to divert. Next came Metal Mickey, an old personal fave.  But even that was surpassed by Everything Will Flow, sung with plenty of care and attention, bringing some lyricism back to the proceedings.  Then came the more muscular I Can’t Get Enough, followed by the dreamier Beautiful Ones.  The next song was new (with the words your sunshine is free(?) in it; the air was something or other – at a guess it might have been called Positivity [It is - Suede Ed], because there was much talk about that.)  The band brought us back to our sing-along with an excellent rendition of She’s In Fashion. The encore gave us Killer with a Flash Gun (?), which I recorded at the time as being either disingenuous or ironic – but that probably had more to do with my mental state than the song itself [You don’t have to be mad to write for soundsxp but …etc. btw it’s Killing of a Flash Boy, an oldie but goodie– Suede Ed].  And, to close, the less-played We Are the Pigs.  


Overall – 8 out of 10 to Suede for entertaining us with such hi-energy for over an hour on a balmy summer evening.  It was almost enough (but not quite) to overcome the hassle to come in getting out of East London!


Reviewed by Jen

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