Fel Fiasco ***1/2**
The Peel, Kingston Monday 8th October 2012
A lick of Viennese Moonlight White, a thundering new rig and a run-around with the broom and The Peel has never looked better. All that’s missing is some jaunty Scandanavian scatter cushions and a couple of bowls of applewood potpourri.
So, the first fresh-faced act on the freshly face-lifted stage are Devonians Fel Fiasco. A diminutive waif-like female with a ferocious and frighteningly fierce…oh fuck it, enough already with the f-based alliteration. Sorry. Anyway, as I was saying, a tiny girl with a mahoosive voice. And thankfully not hewn out of the hackneyed pap punky drawl of the many Hayley-pretendamour-a-likes. This girl’s definitely got some originality, a whopping pair of lungs and a truly impressive range all delivered with delicious clarity.
However, it’s not totally all about little Lianna Carnell; the band strut out a heady mix of fare ranging from proggy passages to theatrical spaciousness. Heavy when needed, but not overly reliant on arse-throbbing dropped tunings and hi-gain, they really display a genuine potential. The only minor criticism would be the songcraft isn’t yet fully baked. A few more refrains, choruses, memorable or sing-a-longy bits would make the whole thing even more palatable. I look forward to seeing them develop. Yummy stuff though.
The toilet tour can be a desperate and unforgiving right of passage. Empty rooms, Ginsters on the hoof, sleeping in shitty foul-stinking vans. Which’ll always break their timing belts on motorways in the middle of buggering nowhere.
And those who embark on the odyssey need big respect and all the encouragement they can get. It’s easy to sit piously clutching a refreshing glass demanding to be impressed and firing off criticism like some louche, buttery-lipped restaurant critic. So I won’t.
Tonight, Empress, while not being the next Lower Than Atlantis or Deaf Havana, try manfully to plough through an energetic, if not totally original set to a depressingly near-empty room. Some ill-judged gruff screaming aside, they pile through a polyrhythmic, interesting and challenging buffet; which is most appetising in the more melodic, harmonic proggy stretches, (which, for anyone old enough could be compared to a harder Caravan).
So they tried. And they probably drove for miles to be here. In the shitty, foul-stinking van with the dodgy timing belt. And let’s hope they keep trying. Guys (and gals) like Empress are essential to the future of live music. Proper music. Real music. Honest music.
I get very angry about Midgar.
Not because they’re named after a world in a polypropelene-trouser-wearing, nerdy-trekkie-billy-no-mates computer game. But because there’s absolutely NO reason why they shouldn’t be huge (Ok, well, as huge as ‘alt’ or underground can be).
So, the anger turtle popped its head out again tonight because the music loving, decent-minded fraternity weren’t out in their hundreds. Idiots. Even though it’s a Tuesday. In the lower, shadier reaches of Kingston’s colon. There’s no excuse for not having your soft organs beautifully yet brutally rearranged by this classically-influenced, original, classy and fabulous foursome. Even if their name is from dubious parentage.
Saying all that, by the time the lads took to the newly Duluxed Deluxe stage, the crowd had swelled to a half decent smattering of worshippers and it had no effect on the brilliant bombast that followed.
A collection of ‘old’ favourites served alongside some glorious new fare stuffed the faces of the gathered faithful. Wonderful rhythms, bowel-lossening beatdowns, orchestral and ornamental cadenzas and anti-aircraft gun guitar and drum assaults were all delivered with precision, panache and penetration a priapic Ron Jeremy would be proud of (arsehole alliteration attack again, apologies!). And all supporting and augmented by Andy Wilson-Taylor’s ethereal, pitch-perfect and bewitching vox.
There was even a pit. Well, a kind of pit.
So, how are we going to get this lot the respect, exposure and crowds they deserve? If the new material on show tonight is anything to go by, the (hopefully) forthcoming album should do a lot of the heavy lifting, (airplay and interweb circulation permitting) but anyone who’s reading this, please check them out and spread the word (start here). They’re genuinely unique, genuinely über-talented, and (even though the Jager had addled my bonce a bit by the end of tonight’s tour de force), I seem to fuzzily recall they were genuinely nice blokes as well.
Really can’t urge folk enough to seek these guys out. They need to be out there more. Can’t wait for the album. And Can’t wait to see them again. Brilliant stuff tonight. But we need MORE!!!!!
LTA, Don Broco et al next.
More tunes soon, Bwoooar.