Monday, November 27, 2006

Scissor Sisters

Earlier this week, NME named Jake Shears as the artist who had most lost it during the past year. How does he respond? By keeping the audience waiting for 50, yes 50, minutes, after the tiresome support act [see below] had finished. By the time the Scissor Sisters hit the stage, I was already bored enough to go home.

And the sad thing is that, against my expectations, that situation never really improved. Yes, 'Tits on the Radio' is still a hilarious hi-energy campathon and 'Comfortably Numb' still makes hardened Floyd fans cry [hurrah!], but the biggest cheer of the night goes not to a song, but to Shears' dedication of 'Laura' to Laura Bush, with the wish that "...she goes to Hell and gets chopped up into iddy biddy pieces".

Part of the problem lies with the new songs. There is no other way to say this, but that bit in Return to Oz where the paradise all turns sour? That's the live version of the new songs. 'I Don't Wanna Dance' and 'Everybody Wants the Same Thing' apart, the new numbers are not so much 'Ta-Dah' as 'Ta-Duh'. And there are nine of them in the first twelve songs.

The result is that the set never really climbs out of this sludge. The high spots are the likes of 'Take Your Mama Out' and 'Filthy/Gorgeous', but to that extent there are no surprises. On the other hand, new song 'Light' starts promisingly and turns into a sludgy dirge. Even the stage set and light show are tame by comparison with past, Henson-esque, efforts. It is no surprise to see a good proportion of the crowd leaving early and, for the first time in many a year, I joined them.

Lily Allen

Please, can somebody enlighten me? What is the point of this tedious little girl? At points tonight, she is so alarmingly off key that she makes Ian Brown sound tuneful. And even if, by some fantastic aural contortion, you can ignore this, then you still have to face the total lack of any musical ingenuity. Live, 'LDN' and 'Smile' are revealed as little more than bad poetry set to music, whilst set closer 'Alky' nicks its melody wholesale from that hugely cutting edge number 'Puppet on a String' - yes, Lily, a 40 year old Eurovision winner. Now shut up and go away.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Small is beautiful. The confined spaces of Scala allow you to get close to a band in a way that London's other venues, such as the cavernous Brixton Academy or the echoing Forum, simply don't. Which is a good thing, as Sao Paolo's Cansei de Ser Sexy are also tiny, or at least the girls are, to the extent that token male Adriano Cintra towers over them like a father leading an outing of ten year olds. In a bigger venue, you fear that you would be looking at specks on the stage rather than a full blown art rock band.

Another advantage of the intimate location is that it limits the amount of damage that Lovefoxxx can do. Frankly, CSS' singer should come with a health warning. Her first stage dive comes during second number (and current single) 'Alala'. From that point on she is either climbing the barrier at the front of the stage, wrapping microphone leads around her neck or throwing herself to the floor, but it is her decision to sing 'Art Bitch' from inside the mosh pit that leaves even the security guards open mouthed. The girl's a hazard to herself.

The good thing about CSS is that every song is a little bit different, but not so different that the tempo really slacks. Even allegedly slow numbers like 'Alcohol' bristle with energy, whilst the pure pop nonsense of 'Meeting Paris Hilton' is thrashed out with something bordering on distain. So confident are the band in their own material (at one point guitarist Luiza Sa wanders backstage mid-song to grab a beer and a cigarette) that it is a suprise that they end with a slightly lumpy cover of L7's 'Pretend We're Dead'.

What do they sound like? Well, imagine how much more fun the Strokes would be if they were fronted by five hyperactive women...


Back when the 1990s were known as The Yummy Fur, Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and Paul Thompson were both at one time members of the band. Getting left behind by your contemporaries is becoming something of a habit. When this gig was announced back in August, it was as a joint headline tour with CSS. Since then, Lovefoxxx and co have surged ahead on the back of two hit singles, whilst the 1990s are once again treading water.

It's not hard to see why, either. This is very much like a pub gig. Jackie McKeown shares jokes with the audience, points out people in the crowd to his bandmates and spends an age tuning up between each song. But like the pub band, every song sounds a bit the same, nothing particularly stands out (not even current single 'You're Supposed To Be My Friend') and it is all very ordinary. The college students around me bounce along happily, but as one of them said afterwards, "They were average and average isn't good enough"

Monday, November 13, 2006

TV On The Radio

Now this is news. Apparently we are floating out at sea, on a raft which used to be the door of a refrigerator. Or, at least, that is what TVOTR singer Tunde Adimbimpe tells us. If that is true, it is a raft being tossed in stormy seas, because from the spine tingling opening of 'Dirtywhirl' to the anthemic main set closer 'Wash The Day' we are thrown this way and that by the eclectic musical styles of these five New York artists.

Visually, TVOTR don't do much. Adimbimpe bestrides the stage like he owns it and it is just as well, as aside from Kyp Malone's huge afro and the wind chimes hanging from David Andrew Sitek's guitar there is not a lot to look at. Fortunately, the audience are content to lose themselves in the music, be it the raucous 'Let The Devil In', the haunting 'I Was A Lover' or the curious chanting of 'A Method'. That said, it is the out and out rock numbers which are easily the best tonight, with both 'Wrong Way' and recent single 'Wolf Like Me' crashing over the crowd like waves.

It is therefore a bit sad that the raft almost becomes becalmed during the encore, as the band close out with an exceptionally lacklustre 'Staring At The Sun'. A bit like sailing into port and finding that not even your family have come to meet you.