Sunday, May 23, 2010
Fuzzbox / [dweeb] @ The Academy, Birmingham, Saturday 22nd May 2010
From scuzzy punk schoolgirls to glossy pop vixens, Fuzzbox crammed a fair amount in to their brief career (just three years from first album ‘Bostin Steve Austin’ to their demise not long after scoring a string of top 30 hits with follow up ‘Big Bang’). In fact I’m struggling to think of many other bands who went through such a rapid change of sound and vision – which might partially explain their disintegration at the height of their powers. I’ve no doubt that, had they carried on, they’d have settled into their own distinctive style and it’s one of pop’s great tragedies (if you can have such a thing) that they didn’t. But dry your tears pop kids. Put down that tatty copy of Smash Hits and bin that scratched to buggery Big Bang CD ‘cos they’re back, back, BACK!
First up though, all the way from Coventry (so an early night for them, as their lead singer pointed out) [dweeb]. I’m sure the ’s are important. There aren’t enough bands using symbols in their names. There’s that there Sunn O))) and ...er...well there we go. Point proven. Anyway, [dweeb] are a darn enthusiastic bunch, starting their set off with much banging of drums before delivering a set of indie rock anthems (imagine a ballsier Kooks with a bit of synth thrown in for good measure). Vocalist Tim has a fine set of pipes on him and pulled out some impressive moves including a good six foot leap from the barrier back onto the stage (that could’ve gone horribly wrong). It was only as he gave us an intro to one of their songs that I recognised that they’re a Christian rock band (and, to be fair, he didn’t even mention the ‘G’ word... just made a comment about something that “changed all our lives”). Further investigation revealed that they were on a BBC TV programme a few years back (Singing With The Enemy) that teamed them up with an X-rated punk band called Papparazzi Whore. As I remember they came off as a likeable bunch. Tonight’s gig left me with exactly the same feeling.
Right...Fuzzbox...or to give them their proper name (deep breath) We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It. Actually that name tells you all you really need to know about the band. They’re fun, they don’t take themselves too seriously and (despite their glossier incarnation) they were/are, at heart, a DIY, get up and play yer three chords, good time pop punk band that deserve (in my humble opinion) to be up there with the Go Go’s, Voodoo Queens and Vivian Girls of this world.
I never saw the band back in the day but I’ve seen clips of the original line-up during their punk phase (hubba hubba) and it’s gloriously ramshackle. Given the fact that only Vix has kept performing through the years I was half expecting the other two – Maggie and Jo – (Tina...the fourth Fuzzy one declined to take part in the reunion) to be, well, let’s just say a little awkward. Clearly they’ve been rehearsing like mad though and all three original members looked pretty comfortable up there (Maggie in particular seemed to be having a whale of a time...you go girlfriend). True to their word the set covered all bases, kicking off with ‘International Rescue’ (glossy Fuzzbox) and ‘Rules and Regulations’ (punky Fuzzbox). Given that the ‘Big Bang’ era tunes (‘International Rescue’, ‘Self’ and ‘Pink Sunshine’) were, back in the day, produced to within an inch of their glossy pop lives they were harder to do justice to, although both ‘Pink Sunshine’ and a grungier reworking of ‘Self’ somehow remained irresistible tonight. Of all the Fuzzbox MkII tracks it was their last single, which Vix introduced as “the death of us”, ‘Your Loss, My Gain’ that probably worked best, fusing, as it did some of the pop gloss with shades of their rawer punk rock roots...a sure sign of their direction had they carried on. The gig highlight for me had to be ‘Love is the Slug’ though, which saw Vix and Maggie recreating a dance that they last did (gulp) almost a quarter of a century or so ago. What next? I’ve heard talk of festival dates and a new album. I really hope it happens. I’ve always thought that the Fuzzbox story ended with a whimper, they just sort of fizzled (or fuzzled) out. Now, at last, they’ve got the chance to do it properly, to give themselves the ‘big bang’ the band really deserves. It’s enough to make you warm and fuzzy all over...