Did you know that the world’s going to end on 21st December? Well, it is. At least according to some nutters who discovered an ancient Mayan calendar that seemed to predict the end of days on 21st December 2012. Still, save us all a fortune in Christmas presents won’t it eh? We can all eat, drink and make merry for the next month or two as well, safe in the knowledge that there’s no point in counting calories, units of alcohol or bank balances. Ha! Take that life expectancy! Anyway, if nothing else it’s also a pretty good excuse to get out to a few more gigs over planet earth’s remaining weeks and this one was more than worth crawling off the sofa, waiting hours for the number 11 bus and losing several extremities to frostbite for.
First up Jack The Lad. Okay, so the name might imply some dreadful lumpen lad rock but happily our Jack (aka James O’Gorman) swiftly reveals himself to be more of a sensitive dude with some honest inner city tunes and a pleasingly soulful voice. Lyrically there’s a touch of Squeeze’s Chris Difford in there (which is as close to pop perfection as you can get) and James’ easy going delivery and the rest of the band’s fluid backing added up to an impressive opening set.
Marry Me When I’m 40 (one of the set’s highlights) might mean something different to an 18 year old (as James is) as it does to someone the wrong side of that particular ‘milestone’ but it’s a neat twist on the old love song cliché. The Lad’s got talent.
Next up Don’t Move! a 60s beat group meets early 80s Glasgow Postcard records scene combo sort of thing. Oh. They’ve got an accordionist too. Yes...I know. Awesome. There’s a whole world of instruments out there. Why does so much music rely on the holy trinity of bass, drums and guitar eh? Break out the accordions people. And the oud for that matter. I want to see more ouds. Er...anyway. Don’t Move! are an intriguing proposition and for once I’m kind of stuck for neat pigeonholes to shove ‘em in or bands to liken them to. That’s a good thing by the way.
There’s certainly some 60’s style grooves going on there and the lead singer looks like he’s come straight from Carnaby Street’s golden period, but elsewhere there are some jerky post punk rhythms, a little prog noodling and the odd glorious accordion wig out. Whatever we’re to make of it, it’s a trip...man.
Last up, seemingly deep frozen in a Detroit garage in 1966 and defrosted for our listening pleasure, Hooded Fang. Their irresistibly jangly Tosta Mista got plenty of spins on 6 Music a while back (although I doubt whether it’s reached the ears of anyone else in the UK) and it’s a fine indication of their overall vibe.
It’s instantly addictive stuff and within seconds one particularly enthusiastic member of the audience was jiving all over the place, something he continued to do for the entire show like a man possessed. It’s possibly the most energetic performance by an audience member ever witnessed, which is either down to the Fang’s winning ability to crack out one garage rock banger after another or a particularly good batch of speed going around the streets of Kings Heath. I’d like to think it’s a little of both. Pretty much every single track sounded like a crate dug classic but the irresistible pairing of Tosta Mista and the surftastic Vocationation took things to a whole new level. Five minutes of pure 100% garage rock perfection. Fangs for the memory.