Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Don

Don Broco ****1/2
Proceed *****
God Damn Kids *****
Upstairs at The Relentless Garage. London. 23rd February 2011

Dyb Dyb Dyb.

I'm old. And I feel it. But I wasn't quite expecting to feel even older when I ascended the dingy stairs up to the Relentless Garage.

It was like walking into a scout hut. Not just because of its layout and diminutive capacity, but because there were so many young people. Really young people. No, really, really young people. I'm just glad I left the Gary Glitter costume in the wardrobe.

Anyway, there was a bar and thankfully not an old lady serving cups of strong tea in those NHS greeny blue cups from an ancient urn. So, being one of the ones actually old enough to order a pint, I got myself a beverage and along with a goodly amount of anticipation awaited the action.

First up were God Damn Kids. Not goddamn terrible, but not astonishing. A Police cover was about the most memorable thing in their brief, but energetic set. However, the sound was awful. The vox were distorted, muffled and buggered up by too much blurry mid-range. Shame, cos they deserved better.

By now I was worried that the sound may not be the product of an old half-deaf stoner twiddling the nobs, but inherent at the venue and that would be terrible news given the fact that my favourite band in the universe at the moment were just about to grace the stage. Fingers crossed.

The crowd swelled nicely as the mighty Proceed took to the tiny stage. I needn't have worried. Dan Lancaster's voice was soaring and splendid and allayed any fears I had about the PA. (If I was being hyper critical, the guitar could have done with another half a turn, but the smile I had stupidly and indelibly etched onto my old face didn't care a jot).

Proceed...Genius. If not blurred. Damned Jagermeister!

A tidy set of about 40 minutes ensued. And it was magnificent. Musically and technically just about perfect. Lancaster's playing and awesome voice were the stand out feature, but it'd be facile and unfair not to give huge applause to the rest of the guys. Brad's drumming was crisp, mesmerising, frighteningly technical and totally spot on. Fez's electro noodlings and tight backing vox added colour and depth. Ash's guitar and Tom's bass playing throughout were a joy. This lot are so ridiculously talented, it makes me mad to the bone that they're not more critically revered.

They worked their way through most of the songs from the magnificent mini album Curious Electric. Melancholy Monday, A Tricycle Journey, Visual Field were all played with verve and energy and the (young) afficionados in the crowd sang along dutifully.

The cracking and vocally spectacular cover of Kelly Rowland's Commander was one of the many highlights and Dan totally nailed it. The smile on my face was beginning to hurt and as they finished I was left feeling honoured to have witnessed such a great (albeit sadly too brief) performance. Stunning. Beautiful. Impressive. And, well, just bloody brilliant.

So, how would the boys from Bedford do? 

Don Broco took to the podium. And some.

I promise to do my best. Scouts' honour.

From the off, the energy level in the room went up to 11. Rob Damiani immediately took a grip of proceedings and is clearly a natural showman, ringleader and all-round rebel rouser. Thug workout is heavy, glorious, fun and dirty and the yoofs in the throbbing crowd loved it, fuckin' loved it. Damiani then cleared a Red Sea-like gap down the middle of the scout hut in a world record attempt for the earliest wall of death at a gig ever. When I say wall of death, it was like British bulldog to be honest. All clean fun. Controlled violence with massive cheesey grins and gallons of yoof sweat.

British Bulldog anyone?

The set was balanced, bouncy and brilliant. If not limited by the band's lack of back catalogue. But that didn't matter. They swung into the ridiculously catchy Beautiful Morning and there wasn't a mouth that wasn't wide open and belting out the up up away refrain anywhere in the house (bungalow). All great fun and executed perfectly. The new mini album Big Fat Smile was pretty much given a full airing with the magnificent I'm Good giving everyone a chance to slow the bpm down a bit.

This lot manage to effortlessly straddle about half a million genres. Punk, pop/punk, metal, post hardcore, Ska, post rock, pop and even strains of Eurovision. And I loved it. Damiani is effortlessy cool, vibrant, engaging, and while not blessed with the stunning vocal range of Dan Lancaster, has a memorable and cheeky voice which the crowd lapped up like a thirsty pack of prairie dogs. 

Thankfully, the sell-out crowd had swelled to include a much better proportion of older fartier types. But we all got into the swing of it resisting the temptation to nurse a real ale looking knowledgeable and mildly disinterested at the back. 
Oi, old bloke at the back, put the ale down and dance.

The last song (no encore regrettably) was the infectious and wonderful riffed-up Dreamboy which wrung out every last drop of perspiration and energy from the adoring throng. Splendid. Just splendid.

The evening was a real triumph. The only reason I couldn't give Don Broco 5 whole stars was that I couldn't quite bring myself to give them equal rating to Dan and the boys. If Proceed hadn't been here it would have been a 5 though.

Loved it, loved it, fuckin' loved it. 

Before I bugger off, I've just heard the terrible news that Oceansize have decided to call it a day. Which is terrible news. Like Proceed, these guys operate on a different plane to most music that's around and will be a tragic and genuine loss to the UK scene. I just want to thank Mike and the lads for giving me so much genuine musical pleasure over the last few years. And to wish the guys luck with all their projects. A really sad day.

Anyway, sorry to end on a bummer, but get The Don Broco album and everything will be better. You'll see.

More tunes soon, Bwoooar!

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