Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Real Brits - Don Broco, Mallory Knox & Hey Vanity Live At Camden Underworld Review

Don Broco*****

Mallory Knox *****
Hey Vanity ****1/2*

Camden Underworld, Thursday 21st February 2013

I want JLS to be here. And One Direction. Maybe Jake Bugg. Or Emile Sandé. While we’re at it, get those fucking Gallagher brothers down here. And The little dwarf twat with the fingerless mittens and the shades - Will I.Am a dick or whatever his name is. 

Then I want to wrench open their jaded, cosmetically weighed-down eyelids. Bore new, fresh holes into the sides of their heads to replace their soiled, fouled-up lugholes. Drill a fucking huge vent in the fronts of their over-important, puffed up fat craniums, then stand them in the middle of the pit in a sweaty, dingy, lager-soaked firetrap surrounded by real, passionate people.

Brits? Pah! Reality TV red-button, text-in-con, Cowell-based soylent green eating, mainstream, populist mind-bending ego fests; double pah! Tonight ladies and gents, is about real British music. With emphasis on the word real.

An absolutely rammed Underworld is testament to the fact that genuine music is alive, well, breathing and thriving. And a country mile away from the plastic, ersatz and manipulated idols and icons spoon-fed to the hapless and obedient diet-controlled masses.

Hey Vanity ****1/2*
Opening tonight’s revolutionary council meeting are Hey Vanity. Formed from the ashes of the splendid Fei Comodo, this fresh-faced foursome storm into a wonderfully crafted and perfectly delivered set to whet appetites, get heads a-bobbing, legs a-jumping, fists a-pumping and hearts a-racing.

Their sound is more grown up than Fei Comodo. More sophisticated. But simpler. Rawer. But cleaner. Lighter. But still heavy when needed. There’s a poppy, indie vibe not too far under the surface. While Fei Comodo were thunderously dark and heavy in places, Hey Vanity eschew the big drops, beatdowns and dropped tuned kicks in the crotch in favour of guile, layers, melodic diversions, counterpoint and syncopation.

The guitar work is lighter. Airier. More textured and sweeter. Rhythms bouncier and dancier. Melodies, well, more melodic. Don’t get me wrong, this is still loud rock music with heavy chugs and bombs, but they’re cleaner. Less violating; more deeply satisfying. Fingering, not fisting. 

Saying all that, only two of the lads were actually from Fei, so to bang on about them too much would be unfair and unhelpful. This is a new band with new schtick and deserves to be treated as such. No matter how inevitable backwards comparisons are.

Anyway, the crowd are lively from the start and lap up the new boys’ delicious fare. Not having been around for long is no hinderance for these boys as their collected oeuvre so far fills out a perfect support slot. 

The performance is steel shard sharp. It’s tight but not sterile. Marc Halls’ soaring vocals are spot-on and majestic cutting through the thunder, texture and complexity of the music. They even throw in a blistering cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya before ending with the brilliant single Breathe, Bleed, Grow. Expect to see a lot more of these boys. They mean it. Fantastic stuff.

Mallory Knox *****Next up for the prosecution are present tips-for-the-top and radio-raiding Mallory Knox. After their recent headline tour (have a read of the Garage show review here if you fancy it), it must seem a bit weird for these guys to pop back down the bill, but, undaunted, Mikey Chapman (complete with his trademark asymmetric strawberry blond mullet mash up mop) cheerily leads the fab fenland five into a high octane and searing set.

Every tune is an absolute banger. The brilliant album Signals is unsurprisingly raided for most of its massive numbers: Death Rattle, Signals, Hello and Wake Up are all belted out and sung back. There’s room for some older, but no less brilliant tunage with Oceans and Resuscitate stirring the pits up into a frenzy before the massive sing-a-long Lighthouse brings the dripping roof down.

This lot are genuine stars in the making and have a fantastic knack of putting a heavy edge onto a solid pop foundation and clever song construction. The only tiny concern would be that two or three of the songs contain big woo-ooh-ooh-woo sing-a-long refrains which, while highly effective at cajoling and engendering crowd participation need to be used sparingly and in a controlled way to avoid homogenisation and even worse, veering towards being all Adam And The Ants.

Don Broco*****

Don Broco must have balls the size of cat’s heads to open their show with two such brilliant bands and will need to produce a seriously off-the-scale performance to top the offerings so far. 

So, what you got lads?

As the lights dim, every square inch of the subterranean sweat bunker is occupied. Oxygen’s at a premium. Knickers are fizzing. There’s a real, palpable crackle of anticipation. It’s special already.

The intro tape teaser/taster of Priorities adds to the gulp factor. 

Then we’re off. The four über-lads launch into the title track form last year’s tour de force. The place goes off its tits. This is the moment I want JLS, One Direction and the fucking Gallagher bellends to see. 

The moment that makes all the truly hard work, the midnight motorway service stations, borrowed floors, under-filled all day breakfast sarnies and stinking vans seem worth it. 

No public vote. No Manc mafia PR-driven fast-track elevation (you know who you are). No specious and laughable awards for being the hardest working band in the land for playing a comparative handful of shows. FFS!!!! No, this is what it’s about. This is the proof. The delivery. The honesty.

Sure, these Bedfordshire bawbags have had their share of hard-earned column inches. Sure they’re easy on the eye, media-friendly, articulate, clean cut, wholesome, talented fuckers. But they put the hard miles in. Played toilets. Played support. Played festivals. Played places no one’s ever fucking heard of.

Tonight, the set never relents. Delivering banger after banger. Just when you think the crowd has reached vinegar stroke, the frenzy and froth goes up another impossible level. The massive melodic poppy joy of The Whole Truth, the feel good-filled I’m Good, the joyful Beautiful Morning melting seamlessly into the savage and hilarious mosh making Thug Workout; it’s all here. All wonderfully crafted and considered. 

The sickeningly buff and bubbly Rob Damiani leads from the front. Seducing the crowd to simperingly do whatever he wants them to. Sing backs, sing-a-longs, pantomime boys and girls sing-offs. Every single one of the gathered gawpers is putty in his hench fist. Don’t you just hate him? One can only hope he’s got a cock like a boiled shrimp and stinks like skunk’s vag.

During all the fun, pop and pomp, it would be easy to forget just how brilliantly played their stuff is. There’s not even a whiff of synthetic plastic here. The playing throughout is wholesome and sensational. So tight. So precise. So on it. 

The sound is big, bright and far more sophisticated than meets the ear. Simon Delaney’s guitar work is technical, spot-on and flawless. Tom Doyle’s bass funky, heavy, subtle and magical without being showy-offy. And Matt Donnelly’s drumming glues the whole experience together vibrantly and precisely. A feat made even more impressive by the fact he delivers the vocal highs to counterpoint Bobby’s baritone all through the set.

By the time Fancy Dress has been delivered to a spent and satiated crowd, there isn’t a face that doesn’t ache from grinning. A gland that’s not swollen. A pair of knickers that’s not moist or a heart that hasn’t been won over. 

A truly magnificent evening all round and one that truly underlines how brilliant, buzzing and exciting the British rock scene is. And long may it continue. 

Here's a cheeky fan vid of the set opener. Top stuff. Maaaaaate.....

As a side note, the linking factor between two of tonight's brilliant Brit bands is a gent called Dan Lancaster. The driving force behind the astonishing band Proceed, he is also a brilliant producer and, indeed, twiddled the knobs on both Priorities and Signals. But you probably knew that. Anyway, Mr Lancaster is kind of reinventing himself at the mo and is launching a parallel career as Dan James.

The same absolutely astounding voice, but with a much different vibe. More souly, dare I say R&Bish and all round hi-gloss pop. Not rocky, but just brilliant. Check some of his stuff HERE

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