Sunday, 26 February 2012

Xcellence. The Xcerts live at New Slang + Arcane Roots at The Garage.

The Xcerts****1/2*
Jumping Ships*****
The Brilliantly Simple*****

New Slang at The Hippodrome Kingston 23rd February 2012

Past the writhing snogging couples. Avoid the vomit. Breathe in the fumes of brightly coloured radioactive alcopops. Try and pull your feet off the bitumen-sticky carpet. It can only be a club night. In a student town. On a Thursday.

Worse still, it’s starting early.

So, virtually doubling the size of the audience who are actually bothered by the bands, I take my place ready to be entertained.

The Brilliantly Simple*****
First up are a cheeky chappy looking four piece who start proceedings with some tidy, multi-layered and textured musicianship. Sadly, the vocals aren’t up to the quality of the soundscapes that sit behind them. I don’t know whether the unfortunate crooner didn’t have adequate foldback, but his low registered voice strained to cut anything dynamic enough to incise the guitar wall. And the tuning was, to be charitable, a little awry.

A real shame, because the ample instrumental stretches showed genuine promise and got the assembled students’ noggins a bobbing. Well, a bit.

Jumping Ships*****
Not dissimilar to the first act at first glance, but as soon as this bunch drop into their first big tune, the differences become obvious. They are clearly a class apart. Michael Williams’ vocals are strident and energetic. The band are as tight as a nun’s you know what full of verve and real technical chop. The tunes are big. The hooks, well, hooky. And the polyrhythmic energy on stage infectious.

They remind me a little of Tellison with a (less techy) touch of This Town Needs Guns and even a dash of Oceansize thrown in for piquancy. Really look forward to seeing them again. But somewhere more intimate. This virtually empty hangar-sized teenage brothel and vomitarium really doesn’t do their vibrant fare any justice.

Terrific stuff.

Here’s a vid of one of their tunes: 

The Xcerts****1/2*
I’ve waxed lyrical for so long about this lot. From the first time I was exposed to their dynamic grungy poprock upstairs at a dingy former Soho strip club (thanks to dear old Sam Duckworth), via various support slots for the great and good, through to the triumphant headline show at The Borderline last month (review here), they’ve never disappointed and must be one of the very best bands in the UK. They’re certainly one of hardest working bands anywhere.

Anyway, tonight’s sparse and vaguely disinterested collection of pissed up, horny indie students were hardly a fitting audience for such contemporary rock royalty. But they were in for a treat. Whether they gave a shit or not.

A short but typically thrilling set did its best to wake up the post-pub crew. Do You Feel Safe kicked things off and among favourites like Slackerpop, Scatterbrain and Just Go Home, they squeezed in a couple of cracking new ones. The spine tingling Aberdeen 1987 was even given another wonderful airing.

The boys did, however looked unsurprisingly as tired as a bunch of Greek economists. Saying that, it didn’t dampen their effort one iota.

As bassist Jordan Smith so wryly put it while wearily sucking on a well earned roll up after the gig, ‘it was a club night, we’re just an interruption to the folk who are are here to get pissed and laid’. A sanguine and wistful attitude from one third of truly one of the very best in the land.

Still, a shit crowd though.

If you’ve never seen this lot, then sort it out. They truly are amazing.

Arcane and Able. 
Arcane Roots live at The Garage.

Before I wander off, thought I’d just drop a cheeky review of the astonishing Arcane Roots surprise headline show at The Garage a couple of weeks ago.

Arcane Roots*****
The Invaders**1/2***

The Relentless Garage, 10th February 2012

Going to be a difficult one this. I’ve more or less run out of superlatives and praise for this Kingston-based trio. So when I found out that AWOLNation had scratched from the gig and AR were shunted up to headline status, I was like a 14 year old who’d just found a stash of top-shelf magazines.

Invaders..bleep, wob, whirrr. Meh.
The Invaders**1/2***
First things first though. First up are the London-based Aussie electro mash up oddities The Invaders. And they’re ok. I suppose. Original ish. Bleepy stuff, guitar backing, a blond geeky, twitchy front man who looks like he shares a choreographer (or dealer) with Ian Kenny, of stunning Aussie proggers Karnivool. The crowd seem to dig. Kind of. Seen a lot worse, but they’re not going to set fire to anything.

Arcane Roots*****
So, what would Messers Groves, Burton and Atkins have in their superhero armoury to melt our faces off this evening?

About an hour of the most brilliant, intense, uplifting and, at times savage riffery, melody and majesty. That’s what.

Stunning new stuff, (one would hope and assume from the imminent and much anticipated first full album) dovetails happily into a sublime collection of bombastic brilliance culled from last year’s outstanding Left Fire mini album.

Thankfully far more people than initially feared stayed after the AWOLNation scratching announcement and they were treated to a genuinely world class performance from a genuine world class and presently peerless band.

By the time the pit loses itself to the electric and three chilli-hot encore Million Dollar Que$tion, the boys have deservedly gathered a whole host of new converts who’ll hopefully go forth and spread the news about just how fucking amazing this godly trio are. A-bloody-men.

More tunes soon, Bwoooar!

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