Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Holloways

There is something indefinably right about seeing the Holloways in a venue like Koko. The faded elegance of the place and the somewhat run down surroundings are a perfect mirror for the band's artfully constructed look of studied scruffiness. All of which is well appreciated by a crowd who are more than willing to forgoe the commercialism of Valentine's Day just to worship at the feet of Alfie & Co.

Before they can do this, they have to endure another utterly pointless appearance by the 1990s, who perform with all the vim and vigour of someone filling in their tax return. Even their few decent songs - basically, 'You're Supposed To Be My Friend' and 'Cult Status' - fail to raise the crowd from their torpor, whilst set closer 'Situation' just degenerates into five minutes of fretwanking (which seems like it goes on for a lifetime).

The contrast with the headliners could hardly be greater. From the opening 'So This Is Great Britain' to the climactic rendition of 'Fuck Ups' which closes the evening, we get enthusiasm, energy and an all-embracing joie de vivre that has the crowd jumping throughout. Indeed, rarely can a gig have had so many stage divers, or a security team so tolerant of them.

If the majority of the stage divers are male, it is probably because the females are transfixed by Alfie Jackson. Whilst only the laziest of writers would describe him as the group's frontman - the role is ill-defined in a band where any one of the three guitarists could be singing lead at any time - it is clear that he is the focus of most of the ladies' attention as he hops, skips and jumps his skinny torso around the stage. More importantly, if the band did not have some decent tunes then they simply wouldn't get this reaction, and despite having only one album's worth of material to choose from they certainly do not disappoint. Sounding like the illegitimate offspring of The Pogues and the Fratellis (but looking a damn sight better than you might expect such children to look) they jig their way through 'Two Left Feet', turn 'Fit For A Fortnight' into pure power pop, give us some cod ska with 'Generator' and throw in the punk thrash of old favourite 'London Town'. Older and more experienced the 1990s might be, but they still have a hell of a long way to go before they will put on a show this good.


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