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Love Is All: Nothing To Be Done/ Ageing Had Never Been His Friend

15 February 2006, What's Your Rupture? Records

Written by Thom Gibbs

So here we are. After a couple of years the guys from Canada return come back with their long awaited second release Neon Bible. As a consequence a little journey to London is always good to promote their new material and the Brixton Academy has no problem in selling out tickets of their four concerts in March.

Supporting artist is Patrick Wolf who’s also coming back on the scene with a lighter, more about online funnier and probably less difficult album than his previous offerings. His was a good show, try nothing to complain about and he certainly knows how to impress the public with his vocal qualities.

Suddenly it’s nine o’clock: lights down, what is ed public screaming and from the video projectors a preacher is explaining to us God’s law. In the background an enormous neon bible illuminates in red while some other neon’s appear in front of the stage.
Keep the Car Running, The Well and the Lighthouse or Ocean of Noise, the last one much better live than on the album, are among the first to be performed before coming to their relatively old hits.

As for Arcade Fire they represent everything a big band should be: multi-instrumentalists (Régine Chassagne), violins, horns, organs, lots of different materials and a show that offers all the songs that a fan can ask. The lead vocalist Win Butler is constantly supplied by choruses, shouts or backing vocals while the rest of the band seem unable to rest and keeps moving around the stage. Well, static is definitely not the word to define them. Chaotic in their movements and epic in their anti-minimalist concept of music probably fits better for a band that concentrates on orchestrations.

A really good live show that makes you come back home and listen again to the new release if, just like me, you’ve been a little disappointed the first time you heard it. Even if I am definitely a bigger supporter of Funeral, I am beginning to think that probably in a couple of weeks I’ll be playing Neon Bible constantly on my earphones.

Barfly on a Friday night – rammed. Not as you might expect with sweaty youths, help oh no, visit an older crowd is in tow tonight for a couple of hot, new electro-ey acts – wicked.

The (definitely) sweatiest, (maybe) youngest and (for sure) the wearers of the tightest t-shirts in the room were To My Boy. Two in numbers they are, fun, energetic and exuberant also. Bands at this stage in their careers are always interesting – eager to please, healthy muscles, a certain fearlessness. Their willingness to give it their all oft supersedes any professionalism but fuck it, whipping the top floor into a frenzy is no mean feat.

My mood however, was one of confusion. There’s quite a bit going on with these see – bleepery, speedy beats, quirky vocals – and it’s a tad overwhelming on first listen. Amalgamation occurs, rawness abounds and blurring naturally follows.
This may or may not be their fault. On record (Myspace) they are crisp, tight, original and a blast. Edgy, difficult, noisy, spikey, everything you need really if electronica is to be worth a watch – I Was A Cub Scout with more of an eye for a frolic or two. If you need a reference point, that’s it.

Fujiya & Miyagi play a different fiddle. Deep, bassy, witty, cynical, cocky, patronising and… middle aged. Oh the contrast, but here it is: the night began with a flurry, a cider-blur and now, clarity. A more perfect combo of support/headliners I cannot recall.

Fujiya & Miyagi pretend to be Japanese and sing about it. They also chant there own name and in Collarbone sing about which body parts are attached to various other bodyparts: “toe-bone up the ankle bone, ankle bone up to the shin bone, shin bone up to the knee bone,” after declarations of having “to get a new pair of shoes, to kick it with her, now kick it wid you…” because of numerous broken bones thanks to tripping over his shoelaces.

In many ways they have to be heard to be believed. It’s clever, it’s funny, and it’s also so very danceable. There’s a proper bassy, krautrock undertone to the tunes, which are short, sweet and riddled with various “uh, uh’s” and diversions into French.
“You’re off your, you’re off your, you’re off your bleedin’ rocker” they speak/sing at you. Street-speak yes, but smarter than The Streets. Non-aggressive thirty to forty year olds providing a wave of sound upon which to ride, laugh and think. What else do you need?

Murder By Death ooze hard-man, viagra order tattooed, more about cowboy charm. They’re not as dirty as I’d imagined (although it’s pretty dark, hospital and after being in the Barfly for an hour or so, everybody’s dirty) but the three dudes are every bit as manly. They look exactly like cigarette and alcohol ravaged young men should – beards, sideburns, check shirts, earrings, all the gear.

They hail from Indiana and, I imagine, are hard drinking under-achievers. They don’t give a shit, of course, because they’re pissed, hopefully, but they’ve two albums out already in the U.S see, while their pending third long-player, In Bocca Al Lupo, will be the first on general release in England from March.

Three albums right, that’s like six years of hard toil with very little international reward, which, on this performance, is gob-smacking. Their sound is immense. The gents play the drums and geetars whilst petite female Sarah Balliet’s attractive hacking at her cello makes up a whisky-drenched, wild west sound pounding below the impressively lithe Adam Turla’s tales of jail break, lost love, alien invasions and the apocalypse. Indiana, it seems, gives one plenty of time to ponder.

I was cynical at first, big time, because there’s a real Johnny Cash-ness to Turla’s voice. “Deliberate, surely” – was my initial reaction. “These blood-sucking bastards are milking the world-weary Americana vibe,” was the immediate follow-up. But I think perhaps I’ll put aside my barbaric loyalty after this live show. His voice is monstrous and true and after all, MBD are all about the loyalty. To friends, family, fans, anyone on a wavelength: “I know there’s better brothers/but you’re the only one that’s mine,” they boom on new single Brother. Their craft is in storytelling, and they create blood-smattered, sweaty, sand-worn-boots-in-a-saloon-bar yarns. Clint Eastwood wouldn’t be out of place in the crowd; The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is on repeat on the tour bus.

This, of course, is probably bullshit. Clint Eastwood, believe it or not, isn’t actually a cowboy, but when it matters, you trust him. Perhaps MBD drink Smirnoff Ice and watch romantic comedies, but the point is, like the greats, like Cash, Dylan and Waits, they tell stories that are believable. Yes I can believe that Turla’s brother was in jail, why the hell not? Crucially as well, they have a sensitive side. Carefully weaved throughout their songs are echoes of sadness in love. Turla’s mid-gig me-and-my-guitar performance of Shiola was warming indeed. The honesty of the lyric “She is plain/but she is mine,” would’ve made Cash proud. I’m being hasty and presumptuous lumping them in with perhaps the three greatest of all song-writers, but they are of similar ilk, and it’s a damn

The first gig of the year is always a bit cagey. Bands are a bit rusty, ask and crowds tend to be a bit comatose. Cue Fucknuckles. Two guys, page two girls, illness and a shit load of noise. The Saturday crowd didn’t know what hit them. Canadian hardcore on a line-up dominated by left-field ballad pop perhaps wasn’t the best choice. But it did feel surprisingly refreshing from the dreary lyrics and glib alt-country that San Frank and Mat Gibson offered.

The Fabulous Foxes had a bit more substance and lead singer Bob’s shy and ruminative pop ditties seemed to sooth and despair in unison.
But undoubtedly, it was the performance from Wild Beasts that held the audience, despite Match Of The Day’s best efforts.

The Cumbria quartet has something rather special in lead singer Hayden’s voice. His falsetto vocals soar above the woozy guitars and fragile drum, while encapsulating the band in a maze of quirks and off-kilter beats. Think 50s high-school America, but without the matching suits and Brylcreem.

Struggling initially to keep up with the lyrical acrobatics, lead and bass guitar plodded along quietly n the background. But they synchronised beautifully in Treacle Tin and Woebegone Wanderers; complementing rather than conflicting with Hayden’s tones. Their debut single, Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants didn’t have the same presence as others, but still justified their headline spot with ease.

With only six songs in the set, it did feel a bit too brief, despite lengthy outro’s and the sound engineers concerted attempt to fuck things up. Look out for festival appearances this summer.

The problem with free gigs, more about specifically free gigs advertised in ubiquitous Bus-seat liner ‘London Lite’ is that, case no matter how early you turn up there’s always going to be a queue and when you here the immortal ‘One-in-one out’ you know it’s time to get comfortable. Sadly, viagra sale Miss Kate Nash who was headlining the evening was dead on time and her whole set was just a distant hum and an occasional banging of drums from where we stood outside. However, I did pass her on our way in and can confirm that she has fantastic hair and great taste in shoes.

Inside The Social, which is basically just one long sweaty corridor, a bar at one end and the meter squared ‘stage’ at the other, we managed to get in just in time to see Scroobius Pip (musical accompaniment by Dan Le Sac). So, out steps a tall man in a vintage suit, full beard action and a baseball cap. After silently introducing himself through a set of cue-cards he started rapping which was a bit unexpected mainly because I don’t associated large amounts of facial hair with hip-hop. However the whole set ended up being just that, unexpected. There was a slideshow featuring a fully-illustrated graph of lyricists (Public Enemy at the top, Twista and Kanye at the bottom), incredible beats, a deft use of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Fix up look sharp’ renamed ‘Hip-hop is art’, several changes of hats/comedy spectacles and an amazing one-man beatbox/harmonica combo that resulted in much whooping and hollering from the impressed crowd. Somehow even the slightly darker tale of suicide and murder ‘Angles’ and some of his more politically minded spoken-word pieces didn’t feel out of place. Scroobius doesn’t take himself too seriously and unusually for a relative newcomer he won over the crowd almost immediately, thanks not in small part to Dan Le Sacs furious beats but also to his sense of humour, lack of posturing and an obvious way with words.

After a brief intermission/mass rush to the loos, Jack Penate took to the stage with his band of enthusiastic teen groupies (male and female) in front of him and a large group of his mates behind him and I kind of felt like the only person in the room who didn’t know all the words to his songs. The sweat pit got even sweatier so a few of us took to standing on the furniture. I apologise to the owners of The Social for destroying one of their white leather chairs. Anyway, Jack, wearing a check shirt with gold chain over collar, seems to incorporate a little bit of everything, Rockabilly, pop, soul, rock even a bit of grime at one point and strangely it all seemed to meld seamlessly, hitting a high with the incredibly sing-a-longable ‘Learning lines’. He’s charming and manages to sidestep the slightly awkward microphone malfunction and at one point the total breakdown of his guitar. Did I mention he also does a mean line in bodypopping? At the finale the miniscule stage is overtaken by raucous teens and the bass player is forced back against a wall to avoid being trampled. However they all take it with good humour and it ended with Jack turning the mike over to his followers, one of whom (and my personal favourite) bared an uncanny resemblance to a pre-op Lauren Harries who finished things off with a lengthy series of shout-outs and name-checks to their mates in the audience, all in the spirit of the evening.

Massive, tadalafil joyous handclaps the Klaxons would wear Gap for. The sound of Delta 5 and LiLLiPUT scaling Phil Spector’s wall of sound. Vocals as fun as a pretty Swedish girl joyously screaming her favourite karaoke song at your house. And still, page Love Is All’s cover of The Pastels’ Nothing To Be Done is the weaker song on this double A-side.

It might raucously revamp the mouthful of braces singing on the polite C86 original, but the equally billed Ageing Had Never Been His Friend blows it out of the water.

LIA managed an unsurpassed post-post-punk re-imagining of the saxophone as credible instrument on their album 9 Times That Same Song. Here they pull one of my favourite singing tricks, (a backing vocalist singing back the main vocalist’s words, with personal pronouns altered to match gender difference, fact fans) which is enough attention to detail alone to rock my geeky little world.

But then Josephine Olausson mutters nonsense about freezers and babies over a broken bridge that morphs into a joyous last chorus. It’s all propelled by frantic drums and some remnants of an organ deep in the mix and when it ends abruptly, just short of 3 minutes, you miss it immediately.

Breathtakingly great.


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