Friday, December 18, 2009

The Raveonettes / The Northwestern @ The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath Thursday 17th January 2009

The Raveonettes are Danish, right? It gets pretty damn cold in Denmark, right? Well they should be right at home in Kings Heath tonight then. Yep, it’s cold enough to freeze mercury (and the rest of Queen) out there, but here in the Hairy Hounds a capacity crowd soon help to thaw out my extremities (it was touch and go for a moment though…if anyone finds a finger tip it’s probably mine…pop it in the post, it’ll be fine) just in time to catch The Northwestern

featuring ex Hope Of The States-ers Sam and Simon.

Some of their stuff has a country tinged Americana flavour, other tracks a more indie rock vibe, throughout they seemed to have some decent lyrics and tunes though. Perhaps a little chilled in places to open for The Raveonettes for me, they really hit their stride more towards the end of the set with ‘Red Threads’ (which built nicely into a full on rock out) and a track that may have been called ‘A Million Pieces’.

NB: The band’s recorded a Christmas song in aid of the sound guy from Hope Of The States who’s suffering from a terminal illness. All proceeds from the download will go to him and his family.

Headliners, The Raveonettes, have been around for ages (since 2001 in fact…that’s ages in this disposable throwaway society we’re all stuck in isn’t it?) and over the course of four albums they’ve established an impressive reputation for straight up, no nonsense rock n’roll…albeit with the occasional cheeky shoegaze garnish. I’d not seen ‘em live before but I’m the proud owner of two of their albums (Chain Gang of Love and Pretty In Black which features the darn fine ‘Love In A Trashcan’). Some bands just drip cool and The Raveonettes, Sharin Foo (blonde bob, ‘60’s chic…the sort of woman Andy Warhol would jizz himself over) and Sune Rose Wagner (not blonde, but cute in a garage rock band kind of way…probably the kind of guy Andy Warhol would jizz himself over too) tick all the right boxes here. The music’s just as hip, a fusion of The Cramps, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground, surf and garage rock in unholy matrimony.

Ascending the stage Sharin and Sune (plus a couple of other dudes and a dedicated lighting man who tried his best to send us all into a mass strobe induced epileptic fit) were bathed in dry ice…or that might have been the breath of the crowd…like I say it was pretty cold…before launching into ‘Gone Forever’ from new album In and Out Of Control. There’s a ‘Phil Spector-ish’ wall of sound to this, and a whole bunch of their other stuff too. It’s raw sure, but the (without going all muso on you) drums and guitars just sound a whole lot grander and fatter than you’d expect. The drums in particular are all echoey, like they’re being played in a huge empty hall rather than the upstairs of a pub. It suits the material (lost love, found love, regret, anger, failed relationships etc…all the things that make up life’s rich tapestry) perfectly. Then there’s the guitars, veering from the sweet and twangy to the downright dirty and scuzzy (ooooh you dirty, dirty guitar), the band tease a hell of a lot more from their instruments than many groups. Sharin’s got that uber cool slightly Nico-esque way of delivering a song as though it’s as effortless as breathing too, which, combined with Sune’s sweetly blessed out vocals again created that layered effect throughout the set.

The highlights for me were a deliciously sneery ‘Love In A Trashcan’, ‘Boys Who Rape’ and ‘Aly Walk With Me’(which descends into a brain splintering wall of heavily distorted guitar noise)…all of which came one after the other…proof that garage rock has a lot more in common with buses than we first thought. Possibly. A three track encore contained the twisted OD love song, The Last Dance (again from the new album), replete with whoohoohooo singalong chorus.

Words from the band were few and far between, but Sharin voiced her approval of the enthusiastic dancing down at the front (even I tapped a toe here and there…yes I know…how rock n’roll am I eh?). Personally I was quite happy for them to let the music do the talking. Long may they rave on.

For proper pictures of this gig you can shortly hop over to my other home at Gig Junkies where the fantastic Mr Fox will no doubt have 'done the business'. ShakeyPix and Andy from Drw-Images were there too so it was a something of a snapper orgy!

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