Thursday, November 26, 2009

CHEW LiPS / I Thee Lothario / 51 Breaks @ The Flapper, 24th November 2009

Remember remember the 24th November? Nope. The poor old 24th November isn’t normally a date for your diary. Too late for bonfires and fireworks and too early for ‘figgy’ pudding and brandy butter it’s stuck in a limbo land of dull dampness, crap telly and stressed out parents trying to hunt down the latest ‘must have’ toy for their demented offspring to smash into a million pieces on December the 25th. Happily in a basement far, far away (The Flapper actually) there’s something worth celebrating – le musique pop as my old French teacher used to call it. Getting the party started, it’s everyone’s favourite snooker themed indie band 51 Breaks. No, you’re right. They have nothing to do with snooker, although the lead singer is sporting a slightly John Virgo-ish beard now. My second viewing of the Breaks and, as before, they delivered an impressive set of anthemic indie, taken a step above the rest by some nice harmonies from the band. ‘Words Regarding’ and ‘Tunnels’ (replete with a Bono-ish whooohooo) were amongst the highlights, but I was most impressed by a storming new song of theirs (which really made the best use of those harmonies) that might have been called ‘Hoppo’s Razor’ (I heard the ‘Razor’ bit but I might have been dreaming the ‘Hoppo’s’ part…I do that sometimes…it’s my age). Get it up on MySpace smartish.

Next up ahhhh…I Thee Lothario…shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? Nope, I shall compare thee to Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Simple Minds. Yes, my favourite sons of ‘80’s pop have been something of a hit in Baron Towers this year. Tonight was the forth time I’ve seen them (I think…I can only count up to three with any degree of certainty) and, once again, they delivered a stadium-tastic performance in the relatively (oh alright then, delightfully poky) confines of the Flapper Basement. Just cop a listen to set opener ‘Arise, Release, Repent’…doesn’t that track just deserve to be sung along with by the odd 100,000 people? If John Hughes (RIP), maker of some of the best 80’s films of all time, were around he’d be straight on the blower to this lot for a soundtrack. The(e) icing on the cake is the lovely sax man Byron (you just gotta have some sax on music like this), who adds some soulful parping to tracks like ‘An English Sentence’ (which, together with ‘Soldier To Your Heart’) ended the set on yet another high note. The(e) whole band are a total delight though and seem to have a cracking time up there. I Thee Lothario, I thee salute you.

No pastel silk suits (despite my pleadings) but I’m happy to report that the keyboard player seems to be going for some kind of record on the biggest stack of keyboards ever played. It’s so tall that air traffic controllers are now alerting low flying aircraft of its whereabouts. Bigger, taller, more…that’s what I say. I won’t be happy until he needs oxygen and a whole team of Sherpas to reach that B flat on the very top keyboard. Oh…one last thing…I much prefer the lead singer’s haircut now too. Some nice sideburns there fella.

Finally, they’re the new La Roux don’t you know? Yep, before the old La Roux’s had the chance to appear on Strictly Come Dancing, miming to their new hit as a dozen sequinned floozies flash their sweaty gussets (hmmm…sweaty gussets) at the nation’s granddads, we’re on to the La New Roux…CHEW LiPS. Actually, whilst there’s kind of a similarity, which I’m guilty of picking up on way back at the start of the year, Chew Lips are a different can of hair spray altogether. For starters lead LiP Tigs has much stronger, more of a show tunes kind of voice which, if this pop star lark doesn’t take off, could well see her pursuing a career in musical theatre (let me see those jazz hands people). That would be a real shame though as Tigs n’Co have a real knack for perfect pop (albeit with a slightly dark edge). I’ve heard her describe their sound as 8-bit Casiotone disco (for those not in the know 8-bit tunes resemble the sort of soundtracks that ZX Spectrum games had way back in 1982…and cool 8-bit covers of all sorts of tracks are currently doing the round on t’web) and I’m buggered if I can do any better than that. So, right now, the LiPS couldn’t be any cooler if they tried. Apparently this gig was even one of Murray from Flight of the Concords’ (aka Zane Lowe) hottest tickets. Ignoring the hype though, CHEW LiPS are a darn fine addition to the electropop landscape. The 'over all too soon' (always a good sign when a gig flies by) eight track set included both Kitsuné singles (‘Salt Air’ and ‘Solo’) together with a half dozen others that were, amazingly, every (8-)bit as strong. In fact, barring any short circuits, I think we might already have a contender for one of 2010’s albums of the year. CHEW-riffic.

PS: A special mention for Tigs’ unique dance moves too…like a young foal learning to walk…awww bless. Bonus points for standing up for Birmingham too when one of the audience said it was ‘rubbish’…civic pride at its best once more (I’m assuming the offender was ‘local’).


Anonymous said...

Muchos gratitude goes to you as always Mr Baron.

I promise one day, you will get your suit wearing lothario's...


The Baron said...

My pleasure ITL. And you will, one day, if I get my way end up playing Wembley Stadium. I'll expect free tickets mind you...backstage too...and a can of pop.

Anonymous said...

nice review! the 51 breaks song is called occam's razor

The Baron said...

Aha...Thanks Anonymous...I knew it had Razor in there somewhere but I missed the first bit. Serves me right for standing next to speakers for 20 years I guess.