Monday, October 11, 2010
Doll & The Kicks / Little L @ The Flapper, 9th October 2010
Loving The Flapper right now. Great bands, nice people and competitively priced booze. What more do you want eh? I daresay Cammo and his mates will end up taxing it all into oblivion one day soon but in the meantime fuck it, let’s eat drink and make merry eh? That’s a whole lot easier thanks to opening act Little L, a one woman oh...and a bloke called Jos too) happy pill with some real feel good tunes, cop a listen to one of the set highlights'Hasty Hasty’ for instance. I particularly enjoyed the Victoria Wood meets Divine Comedy of ‘Norman Brown’ too, a tale of a cross dressing city wanker whose wife leaves him for another woman. There are a couple of darker numbers too though...not that having your wife leave you for another woman ain’t some pretty dark shit. ‘Noisy Neighbours’ sees our L hoping that the individual in question will keep her awake so she won’t be wracked with bitterness about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Awww bless. I prefer a bottle of red, a Sex and the City DVD and a family size bar of Galaxy myself. Metrosexual? Moi? Hell yeah. On top of her self-penned stuff Little L has a really cute habit of slotting snippets of other songs into her own material too. Tonight we got a bit of Limahl’s opus, ‘Neverending Story’ and George Michael’s ‘Faith’. It’s oodles of fun and, with a full blown cover of Gaga’s 'Poker Face', the whole set left me with a real smile on mine.
After a little of Little L it’s time for a whole lotta Doll and the Kicks. I’ve been banging on about this band for a couple of years now (to anyone who’ll listen...you dear readers, my postman, people at bus stops...) and they always put on a cracking live show, but tonight was, hand on heart, their best yet. Bearing in mind that DATK have played for tens of thousands as the support band for quiff lovin’ indie Godfather Morrissey (I believe he personally picked ‘em too) you might expect the relatively modest surroundings of The Flapper to, let’s say, slightly dampen the band’s enthusiasm a little. Not a bit of it. In fact what happened was quite the opposite. From opening number, the rocky ‘Fire’, Doll (aka Hannah), peeping out from beneath a rather fetching grey hoodie, and co threw themselves into the set vocally, physically and emotionally (more of that later) with more oomph than ever before. On top of that incredibly powerful, but still well controlled, voice of hers (I’ve always described it as part Gwen Stefani, part Lene Lovich and part ingredient X) she’s pop star gold, with just the right balance of feisty and quirky. It’s a difficult trick to pull off without making it all come across as too forced (Lady Gaga please take note) but Doll/Hannah's a natural. Take ‘What Goes Around’ for instance. It’s a simmering and – from a musical perspective – relatively sparse track, which tonight gave her free reign to perfectly act out the slightly deranged character in the song (prowling the stage rather menacingly) whilst belting out a vocal that got the hairs on the back of your neck sticking up. It's Fatal Attraction...the single. Hell hath no fury eh?
Whilst the band’s forte to date has been the more bouncing up and down stuff like ‘Roll out The Red Carpet’, ‘He Was a Dancer’ and ‘You Turn Up’ (all performed here with an extra sizzle) tonight’s set seemed to give a little more space to their slower numbers. The mid set pairing of ‘First Time’ and ‘If You Care’ gave us a chance to hear more of Doll’s extensive vocal range back to back, showing up the X Factor (holy crap, is that programme still on...wake up Britain, you’re being lobotomised) favoured style of conveying emotion (wailing a lot whilst looking like you’re trying to go to the loo) as a pale imitation of the real thing. Emotion’s something you feel, not something you do. There’s a HUGE difference.
A rocking version of ‘You Turn Up’ saw Doll bouncing around the stage like Tigger on speed before another change of pace revealed relatively new track ‘Skeletons’ to be one of the band’s best to date. I wasn’t convinced by this one after the first couple of listens online but having seen it live it’s now (another) one of my favourites, a breakneck chorus giving way to Doll’s soaring vocals. A lively ‘He Was a Dancer’ inspired the biggest jig of the night from the crowd before, all too soon, the set climaxed with the funk driven ‘He’s A Believer’. After a set like that I sure am. Doll and the Kicks may just be one of the most underrated indie bands on the planet today. Let’s not keep it that way eh?
PS: Music’s definitely in a funny place right now. The old order of record labels, major radio stations and prime time pop music TV shows have all but gone. Whilst that system was undoubtedly flawed at least it gave more of a chance for genuinely great bands – and DATK are a genuinely great band – to get through to a mass audience. Go back to the glory days of Top of the Pops and The Tube(why the hell was that show cancelled eh?) and it was perfectly possible for a young band with their first single to get an audience of millions. Unless you’re willing to whore yourself out to Cowell where else can you get anywhere near that sort of coverage today? I know the Internet has seventy squillion users but there are 50 squillion bands on it too, so that don’t help. It’s a question I’ve posed here dozens of times and I’m still no closer to an answer. What I do know is that there seems to be a growing number of great bands out there who, in another era, would’ve been huge who just aren’t getting the audiences they deserve (and plenty of music fans who aren’t getting to hear them either).