Bonjour! Comment allez vous? Voici le...er...what’s review in French? Oh bugger. What’s that? Tonight’s headliners aren’t from France at all? Sacre bleu! I daresay the first band aren’t made from silver either. Kids today eh? Actually I didn’t get a chance to see what they were made of as they were replaced by Barnesy (perhaps someone had posted them all off to be melted down by one of those dodgy companies that offers cash for your ‘unwanted’ gold...‘postaltwat.net’ or ‘shouldibendoverwhileyou’reatitt.com...you know the sort of thing).
Having seen him before I knew exactly what Barnesy’s made of. Something of a local hero (there’s always an appreciative crowd at his gigs) he brings a touch of Ray Davies, a little Weller cool and (for the yoot) that easy street kind of style of singing that Jamie T’s trademarked. Standout track ‘Estates in a State’ is as good an encapsulation of what’s gone tits up in this country as you’re as likely to hear these days but, to be honest, there wasn’t a duff track in the whole set. It’s enough to give singer / songwriters a good name.
Next up TANTRUMS, (in CAPITAL letters...YEAH!) now with ADDED Little Palm (aka Annie Palmer...keyboard toting songstress and solo artiste in her own write/right). In a recent POLL of the top bands of the decade (the ‘noughties’ that is) TANTRUMS, despite being relative NEWCOMERS, came pretty high up (number SIX I think). Tonight was the first time I’d seen them as TANTRUMS (although I have a sneaky feeling I may have seen them in a previous incarnation under another name...EDIT: Oh shoot...I have seen then before...April 2009...damn my fading memory..and they were called Mayday ages ago). There’s some of the jerky ANXIOUSNESS of The Foals, some JAZZ type noodling (guitarist, Stuart I think his name is, was particularly adept at teasing all kinds of noises out of his ‘instrument’...fnar fnar) and a solid wedge of catchy rock (the sort of thing that FOO Fighters do oh so well). All of these seemingly disparate elements come together in perfect harmony on ‘If I Don’t Try’, a naggingly ADDICTIVE track which has lodged itself firmly in my br-br-br-br-ain-ain-ain. This, coupled with ‘Mek Ya Feel Hype’, a glorious bouncy, Sunny D anthem for the Skins generation, more than justifies their top 10 BIRMINGHAM Band’s placing. Oh...one last thing...Stuart’s frequent stage DIVES were immensely entertaining too (even if he did nearly decapitate half the front row) and the addition of Annie’s vocals to the mix were the cherry on the cake. ACE.
Finally folk punk jigsters (confusing enough for you?) ‘Hot Club De Paris’, here to promote their new (released today fact fans) 6 song EP "With days like this as cheap as chewing gum, why would anyone want to work?" Hardly the catchiest title in the world, but then again they have previous form here (who could forget debut single ‘Sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachotherforeachother’?). The spirit of XTC and the much missed (by me anyway) Dogs Die In Hot Cars lives on in Hot Club De Paris, especially on tracks like the splendid ‘Dance a Ragged Dance’, at its heart a glorious call and response chorus driven by pounding, almost tribalistic drums (yes, tribalistic drums...reviewers have to put wanky things like that in there...it’s the law). Other highlights? ‘Fuck You, The Truth!’ Yeah...fuck you...fuck Cheryl Cole, the weather, people who spit in the street and the man who invented mobile phones that can play shitty music through their shitty ‘loud’ speakers too while you’re at it. Fuck. As it happens ‘Fuck You, The Truth’, one of the ‘Club’s new tracks starts off as a pretty subdued ‘fuck you’ in fact. It doesn’t last though, quickly exploding into a shouty tirade against what sounded like ‘these carpets, these streets, these hands and these knees’. Nope, me neither. Sounded good though. Although the band started off by just playing, they quickly settled into between song Scouse bantering too, which I actually enjoyed as much as some of the tracks to be honest, especially the butt plugs for ears bit. I guess you had to be there but it was (to me at least) bloody funny. In a generous set (a good 20 songs or so) we got all ‘the hits’ too, including carousing versions of ‘Shipwreck’ and ‘Everything Everything’. The faux folk harmony singalong of ‘I Love You Like I Love Myself’ also stood out as a highlight. It takes guts (or several cans of Stella) to ditch the mics and sing ‘au naturel’ and the band were surprisingly harmonious (a future on the folk circuit singing ‘All Around My Hat’ surely beckons). Bonus points must also be awarded for the lead singers ‘tache, good enough to give that bloke from Gogol Bordello a run for his money...