Friday, 22 April 2011

X hits the spot.

The Xcerts *****
You Animals*****
My First Tooth *****
The Barfly Camden April 18th 2011

I really don't want to write about the supports. At all. Not that they were no good, in fact, far from it. It's just that I'm still buzzing from the main event, and the memories of the tantalising and earnest fluffers has subsided; eclipsed by the crazy-arsed fucktacular orgasmic fireworks of Murray and the boys. But, in the spirit of fairness, I will. And have.

So, we find ourselves back at the tiny Fritzl-esque sweaty box of love that is The Barfly. Stuffed with spicy chicken and Pinotage, we install ourselves at the bar ready to be entertained.

For a cheeky starter, we are served up My First Tooth*****

A raggedy baggedy band of art school folky/country looking folk. With a nurse on bass. Interesting.
My First Tooth - The later years
Despite the incongruous appearance clashing somewhat with the assembled hipsters and musos, they were bloomin' good. Hearty stuff. Lively stuff. Amusing and light stuff.Tuneful stuff. Folky-country-artschool stuff. And all very accomplished. There were definite hints of Arcade Fire, Captain (without Trevor Horne's noodlings and button tweaking), Fairport Convention and even Prefab Sprout but was an original(ish) melange and the crowd seemed jollied and indeed jolly, It was a rollicking variety performance with regular swapping of instruments. Strong male lead vox on most of the songs, sumptuously backed with tight and interesting harmonies. And a cheery girl singer looking like a new-age traveller version of Kate Rusby (but not quite as hot!). Odd looking mandolin/lute things (but thankfully no banjo!)and stringed things. All manner of this and that. I was half expecting a crumhorn or a sackbut to be wheeled out.

A brave and outré choice for a support slot in a dingy rocky venue. And despite some seriously wayward tuning issues later in the set, they were jolly good but would have been even better in a summer Cambridgeshire field at Cherry Hinton in glorious sunshine, fuelled by homemade lemonade or gallons of scrumpy. Well, the scrumpy, definitely. Don't even know why I mentioned lemonade.

So, who next? You Animals *****. That's who.Well there were some table lamps, standard lamps and a big menacing Korg synth thing. Then on trotted a whole bunch of likeable looking yoofs fronted by a young Emo Phillips in a Dennis The Menace shirt and complete with a blonde Debenhams make-up counter assistant perched behind the big menacing Korg synth thing.
You Animals. So young and with the whole world in front of them.
They kicked off with a mildly enjoyable pop punky, jangly, guitar-based indie noise with good enough but not staggering vox, all backed by electronicy noises emanating from the big menacing Korg synth thing. But to be honest they were (as one of my colleagues cajoled me to write) Pointless. Sad, but true. Not enough variety, difference, sophistication or even, more worryingly, and decent tunes. Well, certainly no decent choruses. Too many Woo Woos in lieu of lyrics and just a mid-range, muddy guitar fest albeit with a gallant and very energetic, engaging Emo Phillips front man. Not my sort of thing, but all power to them for their obvious self-belief and enthusiasm. It's not easy being up there as we all know.

Emo. Definitely Emo.

The Xcerts *****
Something strange always happens to me at gigs; I get worried that the much anticipated headline act isn't going to be significantly better than the support. Or significantly different. After You Animals' brave but mildly moribund offering, I was drawing parallels between their schtick and The Xcerts material. There were, undeniable similarities. Obviously a fuller sound due to the number in the band. But single-coiled guitars, poppy, grungy and rock influences  Woo Woos and a likeable, energetic and charismatic leader/frontman. Surely Murray and the lads would be at least a little noticeably different.

I seriously needn't have worried.

A Scotsman called Murray who actually is a genuine winner. Now there's a thing.

But before I continue in regaling the world with the details of how this mesmerising trio completely killed it, I have a confession. I didn't have my notebook with me. So I had to scribble my ramblings onto receipt paper kindly donated to me by the narmaid. Which I subsequently threw away. So I have no set list. I can't even remember which song they kicked off with. But whichever it was, it was bloody brilliant.

The sound was gutsy, full, aggressive, clear and beautiful. The mix was perfect. They were as tight as a Caelocanth's rectum at 20,000ft under the sea. In short they were fucking magnificent.
Murray's little helper. Boom.
Due to the Jagermeister and Gaymers and the inadvertent shedding of my notes, the memory was shaky as to the general make up of the set. But they definitely played Do You Feel Safe, Young Belane, Cool Ethan, Home versus Home, Distant Memory and Crisis in The Slow Lane. I don't recall Just Go Home or Slackerpop, but they might have done. In fact probably did. Whatever it was all brilliant. Every joy-drenched minute of it. Sing-alongs, fist pumping, tearfully emotional spine-tingling moments. Fanbloodytastic,

Man, this lot have to be one of the greatest live young talents in the country. And they proved it tonight. And some.

Here's Crisis in The Slow lane as just a taster. Pure, melodic, colon-twisting magnificence.

So, any worries about too much melding in with the previous acts were well and truly allayed. Murray's guitar sound was like a Dragster in your front room at times. And like a Stradivarius at The Albert Hall at others. All nitro-powered by the wonderfully threatening and impressive banks of Jim Marshall's finest turbo boosting backline. This is the fifth time I've seen these boys. From the first time supporting Dear ol' Sam Duckworth at a converted strip bar in Soho to the passion-soaked Strongbow Tent at Sonisphere. This was a new level. Their music is maturing. Their sound ripening, their confidence and mastery (although never in doubt) blossoming.

Woo Hoo!
They are deservedly on the up. And up. I was privileged to be there tonight and can't urge anyone strongly enough to see them soon. Although they are easily brilliant enough to fill huger venues with alacrity, get 'em while they're hot in a small, emotionally-charged venue like the marvellous Barfly and you won't find a better evening out. Anywhere.

Genius. Sodding genius.

We Are The Ocean and Don Broco next week.

In the meantime, I've just heard some tracks of the forthcoming Maybeshewill album - totally brilliant. Oh, and the new Metronomy stuff is grand too.

More tunes soon, Bwoooar!

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