‘HULL ADELPHI.’ 10/ 10/ 02.

With the best all-in-one-night bill since Elvis’ comeback, you couldn’t fail to have a great time. Whoever the hell LE NEON are, they are brilliant. They manipulate rock, punk and lo-fi and plaster a big fat ‘post’- tag onto the front of each of those genres, as this Brit 4-piece jam out hugely original soundscapes jaggedly interrupted with manic melodies and an unassuming frontman who prides himself on the intensity of his vocal epileptic fits. Their set climax would do The Edible Five Foot Smiths proud, the frenzied whirl of feedback culminating in the guitarist playing his guitar with a monitor (as Jimmy Page used to abuse his with a violin bow in those Led Zepp glory days), while the bassist assaulted his innocent instrument with a mic stand, scraping an intoxicating and enthralling barrel of super-cool class.
The one-and-only other time when LITTLE HELL played live in my presence, the line-up was far removed from this one. Now feisty vixen Lucie has left the band, the vox are provided by new mainman Steve Ludwin, who now sings and plays guitar where once he used to just play guitar ah-ha… and who quips coyly ‘we are all doomed unless Little Hell can come up with a tune that can calm the savage beast.’ Set-opening with their ‘Emotional Vampire Sound’-EP ‘Hemotoxic’ anchorer, this 4-piece made their clean-cut yet angsty intentions far clearer than Le Neon’s. Little Hell’s melodies and harmonies sound more inclined to soar than to plummet, and for a brief moment native Californian Steve - in profile - and with legs wide apart, mimicked Tim Wheeler of Ash (whom they have previously supported on tour, along with such luminaries as Electro-pop prince Gary Numan and more recently, Rival Schools), and whom they do remind of, courtesy of their chart-destined cuts of power-pop not too dissimilar to Feeder or A in their damn clever song-writing ways. Flogging new material from a new album, and their new single ‘Everybody’s Cursed’ (introduced by sensationalizing the possibility that ‘everyone in Hull is cursed’), the highlight had to be ‘Eat Shit President Bush.’ Hmm. So they can even stew politics into their tongue-in-cheek sheik.
Instantaneously rubbishing a rumour I’d heard that Brighton super-psychos THE EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER were a disappointment live, the much-hyped band were lead on stage direct from their fortified tourbus in the miniscule carpark outside by a random roadie-type (or manager, possibly), instantly igniting an aura of excitement. All long hair, supple poses, enough illicit sweat that could sink the Titanic without worrying about the Atlantic and overtly loud, rampaging guitar riffage, frontman Guy McNight’s nutterage levels rallied off the scale of mad as he smacked his mike over his head to wake him up before tearing the crowd in two as he went run-about off the stage and toward the bar at the back, taking everyone in his way with him via his mike lead…. Argh, run!! Multiply the exhilarating presence of Amen’s Casey Chaos - when on top-form - and Andrew WK, it was time to party hard, and from nowhere a moshpit spilled over half the venue’s floorspace and forced the band to play yet harder, faster and louder. These guys are hardly Eighties throwbacks, instead snaring rock ‘n’ roll music as it should be, with no pretensions. The vocals even invade slight bluesy quarters, the mainman bizarrely sounding like a genuine Elvis impersonator when the music’s loudness did temporarily dip and the pace relented. But maybe I was hearing things. One thing I am certain of is the fact that I was seeing one of the coolest and forcefully interactive bands I have done in ages. Their motto? Play with fire. Yeh, fuk it… go and play. (Wot a friggin triumph.) (SR)