Sam Bam Thank you Ma'am.
Get Cape Wear Cape Fly *****
+The Xcerts *****
Electric Ballroom, Camden 13/10/10
Tidy venue. Tidyish crowd. All looked promising. The drinks started to flow. Atmosphere, well, never really got anywhere near warm. All a bit odd.
Odder still was the first act on. The oh so amusingly named Justin Sane of Anti-Flag 'fame'.
Now I'm sure Mr Sane is nice to his mum. We know he's nice to animals (a staunch animal rights radical veggie and all round good well meaning egg). But, to be honest he was, well, poo! Very poo.
The sort of stuttering, poorly crafted and terribly played, over-earnest bedroom bollocks that a drunken student called Nigel would hockle-up round your mates flat after a couple of litres of Gaymers and a jazz woodbine before he was told to 'give it a rest now Nige, we fancy listening to some Gotan Project'. Wanker.
Seriously, he was terrible. No tunes, no hooks, no ability on the guitar. Weak and characterless voice. Sheesh.
Things could only get better. And my God they did. Next up (and surprisingly low down the bill - due to them actually doing another gig later that night over 100 miles away in Canterbury) was the totally superb slackerpop trio The Xcerts. Tight, tuneful, loud, lovely, brash, beautiful, brilliant.
I've now seen these guys on about half a dozen occasions and they go from strength to strength.
An understandably but sadly short set threw in new stuff from the bonkers and brilliantly bewildering Scatterbrain long player with older favourites. All performed with maximum effort and energy and no shortage of technical skill. Frontman Murray MacLeod totally rules the stage (and in the last number, the floor of the venue in a scene redolent of Fightclub but with a Fender Telecaster not fists). His boyish frame and floppy mop coupled with a good ol' boys lumberjack shirt evoke memories of a young Cobain. But with guitar playing ability thrown-in.
Can't wait to see them on a major headline tour. I urge everyone to see them. Spellbinding and special.
Not so much so of the next lot up. Tellison. Never heard them. Or even heard of them. But was mildly amused and entertained. All a bit poppy and frothy but pleasant enough.
Imagine Fall out Boy, McFly, Funeral for a Friend and Youmeatsix all thrown into a Braun Multipraktik and whizzed into a moussey-like foam. You get the picture.
Saying that, the gals in the crowd seem to enjoy them. And they seemed like nice enough lads.
So, what would our Sam dole up?
Well, a full band for starters. Mike G on the cornet (but no other horns), the bloke who looks uncannily like Nasser Hussain on bass, a real drummer, a keyboard player and, well, another guitarist. And no visible laptop. Real instruments. Real music. And really good.
Big energy, big sound, big smiles, big hair, big tunes and big ooh ooh singalong bits. Everything we've come to expect from Monsieur Duckworth. And some.
A rollicking set packed with new takes on old faves (Oak Tree, i Spy, Get Cape, Glass Houses, Call Me Ishmael) and a couple from album no 2, spiced up with three or four from the new eponymous offering.
Sam was his normal endearing, charming and at times gauche and unconfident self, mixing estuarine tinged banter and quips with a passionate chest-beating anti homophobia/racist/BNP/EDL diatribe intro to Glass Houses.
He also had technical gremlins trying to wedgie him throughout. The sound wasn't great all the way through (but thankfully didn't spoil the enjoyment too much); and to cap it all, his trusty acoustic melted down and he had to play his 'chilled and melancholy' section on a Telecaster. Which, surprisingly sounded great, albeit dragging Sam inevitably and inexorably closer and closer to his metamorphosis into his hero Mr Bragg.
A Daft Punk cover then lit up the place and got more than a few tired feet a-tapping and challenged by some on the spot tuning difficulties, Sam remained upbeat, entertaining and enthralling.
The crowd, for their part was boisterous and appreciative throughout rather than adoring and passionate (and not particularly huge, bewilderingly),joining in where they needed to, OOOOhing diligently and throwing cheeky banter towards the wee man between tunes.
Despite whimpering out with no encore, no War of The Worlds or Chronicles it was a great performance leaving many fat smiles plastered over the crowd as they headed for the tube or kebab shop. Tasty.