Saturday, 25 January 2014

School of Mock - Blitz Kids Live Review Camden Barfly

Blitz Kids *****
The People The Poet *****
Villains *****

Camden Barfly  Monday 20th January 2014

Before the blitz, there's the kids. Loads of them. Tonight, London's very best small venue has been turned into a fifth form disco. Bloody everywhere. Smelling of Lynx and bizarre coloured alcopops, Camden's cosiest back room feels more like Stuart Hall's trailer than a rock venue.

Never mind though, there are still enough grizzled old industry types, other bands and general moochers to ensure it doesn't feel too awkward being of more mature years.

But, in keeping with the yoof-heavy attendance, it seems only right and proper to prepare tonight's review in the form of a school report:



Villans *****

Appearance and attendance: On the face of it a well presented, if not slightly scruffy pupil. Perfectly pleasant enough with rough edges. B+

Overall quality of work: Nothing too edgy, startling or original; but very competent, catchy, smart, hook-infused alt rock with poppy and even Brit-poppy influence. Terrific harmonies and clever vocal arrangements give them an ownable big sound. Energetic and comfortable in front of crowds. Engaging, cheeky chappy front man. B+

Teacher's Notes: Overall a tidy, well polished set with just about enough rawness and potential originality to set themselves apart from a very crowded pack. Not destined for Oxbridge, but certainly have all the potential of full employment on the UK scene up ahead. A-



The People The Poet *****

Appearance and attendance: Straight out of the college library and a signed up member of the debating society and young farmers. A likeable and raggedy pupil. Somewhat unassuming but definitely harbouring hidden literary depths and a simmering intelligence. One to look out for. A-

Overall quality of work: Clever, engaging, challenging stuff. But with a real comfy jumper feel to a lot of this pupil's work. Melodically and harmonically smooth with Joe Cocker barbs and Adam Duritz soul thrown in to inject a grizzly rawness. There's a nu-country vibe among the alt rock power, elements of Springsteen and Crosby Stills & Nash but backed by bits of Coldplay (the good bits, honest), Crash Test Dummies, Foals and even Bad Company (ask the history master kids). 




A genuine shock. And a very pleasant one. Their work is of the highest quality throughout. The new, truncated and impossibly tight line up draws on works from their stunning debut long player The Narrator, the songs are true slices of life derived from fans' own stories. From MDMA abuse to moving love paeans. And it works brilliantly. Big gutsy Ooo Ohh Whooaa Whoaa singalongs, beautifully tight harmonies delivered by the petite and timid, but wonderful Greta Isaac and a big, clever sound from the on-the-money trio behind gruff geography teacherly chief crooner Leon Stanford. A*


Teacher's Notes: Clever, witty, intelligent, approachable, entertaining, heartfelt, honest and beguiling. Brilliant stuff. Keep up the good work and the sky's the limit. A**



Blitz Kids *****
Appearance and attendance: Pretty much as you'd expect. Self-assured, swagger-soused bit-of-rough, inked, pierced, controlled and styled scruff aimed at unsettling the genitals of their younger female classmates. C-

Special note: Firstly, the sound man was either having a bit of a laugh with the house music before this pupil took to the school stage, or the arrogance of association is frightening: big tunes from polished, proven and successful acts like Mallory Knox, Don Broco, Fall Out Boy et all are all consumed greedily like a free Blue WKD by the assembled 5th formers. A statement? We're as good as them? A menu faux-pas where the amuses-bouche are far better than the meal itself? Or a joke? Ill-advised whatever.

Overall quality of work: Oh dear. Despite the build up and the hyped room, this pupil fails to deliver on just about every count. While their performance is undoubtedly slick, it's strangely totally devoid of soul, passion or truth. This is ├╝ber-plastic, contrived, vacuous and banal. Even down to front man Joe James's affected west coat American accent (all the way from deepest Cheshire!)when he yo's and whoa's at his mini harem of hoes between songs. Embarrassing. It feels like The X-Factor does rock. There's no edge, no teeth, no punch.

While this pupil demonstrates obvious musical competence and skill, they're just lazy. Not to take anything away from their obvious work ethic: constantly touring, living in foetid vans and surviving on congealed Ginsters cheese slices from service stations - just lazy musically. Going through the motions. And, despite having an anonymous baldy, inked grimy hipster back up guitarist staring at the venue wall trying to hide on the miniscule Barfly stage, they fail to significantly beef up the morass of toothless prock (pop rock kids, doncha just love it?). Sigh.
 
Whereas bands like LTA, Deaf Havana (who are here in force tonight), Don Broco, Mallory Knox, Canterbury, hell, even We Are The Ocean and You Me At Six occupy the same heartland, they (mostly) all do it with lashings of integrity, reality, under the fingernail grime; honesty: Blitz Kids seem to have been mass produced. 

It wouldn't surprise me if Faustus himself,  Mr Cowell isn't lurking in the wings, evilly and gleefully rubbing his hands together in a cloud of foul stinking sulphur. F-

Teachers Notes: While fundamentally not doing anything wrong or offensive (apart from Jono's oft very amusing and profane tweets), this pupil is sadly a genuine disappointment. I expected so much more. As for the future? Who knows: unless they find an edge, a maturity, self-effacement, humility or some testicles, they're heading for Saturday night mainstream TV or touring with One Direction or McBusted. But, they might want that. Who knows. 
F--- (fail)




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