Lower Than Atlantis ***1/2**
Electric Ballroom Camden 28.04.2011
Springlike evening. Massive queue outside the Ballroom. Hipsters abound. More plugs than B&Q electrical aisle. Beiber haircuts. Ink. WKDs. Kids. Lots of kids. Plaid. Boatshoe loafers. You can picture the scene. Another night in the furtherance of young British rock and roll. And it felt good.
With 4 bands on, there's always the pain of a really early start and so it was tonight. No sooner had I plonked my bum down on a bar stool I had to haul my carcass into the main hall for Bobby D and the fun-filled noise machine that is Don Broco.
Considering it was such an early kick off, a really sizeable and voraciously baying pack filled the room.
They were raptuously received and kicked off straight into the splendid nut-grinding Thug Workout. Mr Damiani was in fine form. Sporting a rather natty Oli Sykes vest and de rigeur shorts he bounced, leapt, hurled him self around and looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
However, he was somewhat eclipsed by the sight of Dan and Fez from the brilliant Proceed, dancing like a couple of tipsy teenage sixth form girls or a pair of self-conscious mincing go-go dancers (thankfully not in speedos or arseless leather chaps) at the back.
The crowd was lapping it up (the band, not Dan and Fez's floor show), and Rob set up the obligatory wall of death which kicked off splendidly - and during which he knackered his mic.
Don Broco are far from a novelty band despite the cheeky demeanour and pop sensibilities. They really are maturing into an original, rocking good-time bunch of loveable miscreants. They are as tight as a tick, effortlessly messing around with compound timings and crunchy guitar drops, as catchy as a super strain STi while cleverly mashing up their genres. Seamlessly throwing in allusions to reggae, ska, pop, punk (but thankfully not anodyne pop punk!), glam rock and metal. They come over as a really nice bunch of guys who are wringing all the fun they can out of the scene at the moment. And long may it continue.
Sure, they don't take themselves too seriously: they're neither shoe-gazing musos, nihilistic mournful black metal miseries nor emo coated screamers and whingers. Nope, they kick arse, then come round the front for a cheeky kick in the cock. With heavy boots on and with a run up. And all done with infectious smiles, energy and verve. Songs like Top Of The World, Do What We Do, the summer-saturated Beautiful Morning are genuinely excellent songs in their own right, but chuck in 300 hormonally dosed-up hipsters and something special happens.
The only reason they didn't get 5 stars is that they regrettably ran out of time for Dreamboy. Which I assume would've been the set closer. A shame, but certainly didn't sour the pudding too much. They were excellent and while the future of young British rock and roll is in the hands of these guys, we're in for a marvellous time ahead. Top Of The World indeed.
Lower Than Atlantis ***1/2**
I'll admit, Lower Than Atlantis are not on my playlist an awful lot. I own both albums and Mr Duce's voice is a cracking, worthy, necessary original and raw addition to everyone's collection. But my jury is still out on the songs. Don't get me wrong, they're not terrible. By a long way. In fact there are genius moments cosseted among the hearty and raw almost punky noise that marks out their territory. But apart from the obvious ones, I struggle to find anything too memorable about most of their oeuvre.
Nonetheless, they take to the stage, again greedily lapped up by the salivating mob and do, without doubt kill it. Loud, passionate, ramshackle, energetic and aggressive, they get the hordes baying and bleating while throwing themselves around without too much forced provocation. From the butch opener, (Motor)way of Life to the crowd pleasing Deadliest catch, packed with fishy, maritime and Pirate puns, similies and metaphors, they delivered a strong, engaging and sweat-inducing set marred only by a bit of a mid-range heavy sound mix. A bit too much estuarine mud. But bollocks to that really, everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. As did I.
I'll have to be brief. I wish they had been. Derivative pop (skate) punk offering absolutely nothing new. They were terrible. Not musically, but just what they are. And what they stand for. The world really doesn't need this any more. Or any more of this.
And, to make matters worse, they had a secret weapon. Which failed miserably: and 808 bass drop that relentlessly was applied to all of their totally out-moded and puerile set list. It was like Jimmy Caulty's german sonic riot canon which causes spontaneous bowel evacuation. At one point I thought I'd shat myself, but on closer examination, the bad smell was coming from the stage.
I'll keep this brief for the opposite reasons. They came, they right royally kicked arse. They conquered. From the mesmerising opening salvo with three drummers and the sampled mixed up strains of their anthemic What it Feels Like through classics like Look Alive thru new crowd pleasers Overtime and the sumptuous Runaway, this lot have announced their arrival onto the world's rock stage. And some. Even allowing for an injury break in the middle of the set when an able and willing substitute stepped in for the temporarily crocked Dan Brown.
I'm not going to pick at the scab off the Alexis on Fire discussion - that's been well debated and documented. I will, however descend into the other debate of de jour about the new darlings of British Crossover; they are two bands. Not quite as simply as dividing them by albums and the obvious shift in Brown's dirty scream to a gruff, sexy vocal. But that they are capable of being heavily dark and frothily light in the twinkling of an eye.
But I believe that this schizophrenia is actually a good thing. Yes, the new album is lighter, more melodic and at times ridiculously catchily poptastic but it does sit comfortably alongside the harder more brooding and macarbre material from earlier in the band's meteoric career. Liam's clean vox are at times heart-melting, and although the lyrics won't ever trouble the scorers' notepads at the Novello awards, they are a true force in Brit rock at the moment.
I love the fact that younger kids are getting off on WATO. It makes a pleasant change from MCR, Paramore and 30STM and opens hearts, eyes and mouths to a more worthy and complex musical diet. Which has to be a good thing. Long live pop and roll.
Eddie Harvey Septet. *****
Here's a weird one. Last night, I was lucky enough to attend a great friend of mine's wonderful jazz performance at WAYOUTWEST in Richmond.
The ridiculously youthful (for an 85 year old) Eddie Harvey had assembled a brilliant Septet for a fantastic evening of sensational tunes and arrangements. From Ellington to many of Eddie's own, it was a true privilege to be in the company of such a grand band of jazz legends. For anyone interested the septet's line-up was: Dave Brown on Bass, Tony Kinsey on Drums, Tony Woods on Saxes, Chris Biscoe- Saxes and Clarinets, Jimmy Hastings-saxes and flutes, Pete Hurt - Tenor and Eddie himself on piano.
These guys (well apart from Dave and Tony as they're comparative whippersnappers) have played and written for and with some of the true greats of the jazz world and way back when occupied a similar place in the underground/alternative culture that many of today's rock bands park their arses. Alright, they may not be churning out variations on a Thug Work Out theme, but the lineage is clearly evident. Well it was after a few pints anyway. Stunning stuff.
ASIWYFA next week. More tunes soon. Bwoooar!