NME RAVE TOUR:
The cult-esque gathering this evening makes me glad to have belonged to Generation X, rather than the recent spawn that can only be labelled Generation (Wh)Y? When I was growing up, music was about how loud the guitars were, how deafening the drums and, most importantly, how it didn't really matter what the hell you looked like in order to enjoy it. I, for example, would never have been seen dead in a pair of glo-stick inspired aviators in the name of Scene. Although I am a bit miffed because I wasn't given a pair on the way in. Down with the yoof. Bah. As I peer tentatively around me, I begin to wish I had worn my gold lame and leggings as opposed to the comfortable jeans.
Yes, tis all about the image innit and no-one makes that more perfectly clear than New Young Pony Club. Those you will know for making the Intel adverts ultra cool by waxing lyrical about "Icecream" and championing the phrase "woah oh oh" with recent single "The bomb", mad lady singer Tahita and a bunch of other chic-looking women and older-looking men produce simple music to snog violently to in a darkened corner, electro synth heaven on a well-groomed stick, vibrated by the power of bass and hypnotising you into a trance-dance. They chug along nicely, Tahita gyrating like a malfunctioning Johnny 5 in drag, whilst proving that the closer to the stage you get the more in tune the vocals are, and, that done, it is all rather sexy indeed. Though NYPC won't move you in any other way than shaking your booty.
And The Sunshine Underground also perform in a way that means you won't necessarily be humming five minutes after they have left the stage. Making the mistake of starting with what I believe to be their strongest track, the scathing and stomping "Put you in your place", although they do have some good tunes, what follows fails to make the same impact. It doesn't help that they look like a few chavs that met down the pub in Leeds and decided to learn the guitar. After a while, TSU -(abbreviations are obviously in this season too)- start to sound like any other band to emerge from the North in the last few years, though I will give them points for bigger balls and better voices. The loud raucous vocals and fuzzy noise (sometimes reminiscent of the Manic Street Preachers- see "Commercial Breakdown" for one such specimen) are enough to excite me at first but there's only so much that some random blokes can do with their instruments, following the formula of disco beat featuring big rock riffery. With a cowbell. On record, TSU have an attitude that somehow just isn't captured live. And so it wasn't long until I started examining the couture again. I saw three fifteen year olds wearing fluorescent builders jackets. Nice.
CSS are fantastic. Fact. Like an episode of "Sesame Street" where Big Bird takes too much speed and flies to Mexico with a load of tanked-up, demented five-year-olds, the many members which comprise this hot-headed party troop shed the black shrouds they have donned for their entrance to reveal a riotous set highlighting the power of dance routines, unitards, chicken nuggets and brought to you by the letter G. For Grin. Singer Lovefoxxx leads a group that otherwise just walked out of a trailer somewhere south of the border, the bad ballerina taking a vigorous aerobics class on the side, lipstick smudged across her face, mic stand twirling above her head as the crowd go bananas for the cute but properly sexy and ultimately dirty DIY electronica up there with the queen of smut, Peaches, for entertainment value. From the notorious "Let's make love " and "Off the hook" to the subtle energy of "Ahlala" and "Alcohol", I am but transfixed. Sloppy yet sultry, CSS bring glitter and fun where there was none. The audience feel loved like they never have before. Not many bands can use a "2 Unlimited" sample and still make the plus-one shimmy. CSS were so hot the fire alarm went off afterwards. A must-see act.
Who should have been headlining. Don't get me wrong- I absolutely love The Klaxons' debut album. "Golden Skans" needs no introduction for it's sing-a-long gorgeous harmonies and melodies which sit nicely alongside the required punchy guitars and sharp beats, and many of their tracks follow suit, crossing over from pop to new wave and back again quicker than you can fit another "ooooh" into a chorus. It is also a pleasant surprise that they also look more chaotic than I thought they would, baggy t-shirts being the order of the day when I envisaged monumental styling. However, tonight the light show is more stunning, as they prove that you don't necessarily have to be able to sing in order to make red-headed girls dance like twats and young folk daub themselves in pink paint (you know who you are) or even have the energy to fulfil the promise of the "New Rave" genre you seem to have found yourself heading. Even another appearance from a few members of CSS fail to make it right as all I can hear is lots of falsetto vocals interspersed with lots of shouting and the big bloke using the old chat-up line of stating how great Cambridge is. It isn't. The Klaxons could be, if they stopped pretending to be NME darlings and started being real. Though does anyone else think that "Isle of her" is clearly influenced by "Bob The Builder"? Or that the cover of Grace's "Not over yet" is a mighty mighty cop-out? Listen hard, kids. Then tell me I'm wrong.
Thanks muchly to Warren Higgins for setting the evening up. Good man.
Words Anna C, pix Steve Bateman