The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'suzerain'
The past week has been unusually rich in worthwhile gigs in London, and Your Humble Narrator spent much of it going to such, often with camera in hand:
- Monday night was Suzerain at the infamous Hope and Anchor in Islington. I've seen them before; they're not so much an indie band as tomorrow's chart-toppers who haven't been signed yet. They sound somewhere between David Bowie and Duran Duran, with elements of Icehouse, the Scissor Sisters and early Nine Inch Nails, look not too unlike Interpol or Franz Ferdinand and play a rather tight, catchy glam-pop. They'll probably go far.
- On Tuesday, I went to Club AC30 to see Sambassadeur, a Swedish indiepop band on the Labrador label (also home to the likes of Acid House Kings, Club 8 and The Radio Dept.). They were pretty good; somewhere between various Sarah Records bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and other recent Swedish bands including The Radio Dept; two guitars, bass, harmonium, boy/girl vocals and an iPod providing the drum tracks. There are some photos here.
On Thursday, I went to see Mirah, the K Records singer-songwriter and her band, at the Purple Turtle in Camden. They were quite good; the eponymous singer/guitarist was quite animated, and was accompanied by the usual bass and drums, as well as violin and accordion. Meanwhile, the bass player proved that Justin Timberlake and Von Dutch have not yet managed to kill off the trucker hat among US indie-rock hipsters; either that or we are witnessing a second wave of ironic appropriation of mainstream fashion's adoption of an earlier ironic hipster style. Anyway, there are photos here.
I ended up picking up a copy of Mirah's second album, Advisory Committee, at the gig. There seems to be an interesting lo-fi experimental-electronic thing happening on some of the tracks, amidst the (sometimes stereo-doubled) breathy vocals, indiekid guitar strumming, layers of fuzzy sound and the odd glockenspiel and such. It's a bit more adventurous sonically than You Think It's Like This... (if perhaps not quite as innocently playful), and has a sort of spiky quirkiness that seemed to be absent in C'mon Miracle, which (from memory) seemed more like a straight alt-country record.
On Friday night, I went to see a band named My Favorite play in Hoxton. They're an electropoppy outfit from New York; bouncy upbeat songs sounding like OMD or 1980s New Order at their poppiest, with pleasant-enough boy-girl vocals; upon closer listening, though, the songs turn out to be quite dark, about the ghosts of dead teenagers and such. I picked up their album, The Happiest Days Of Our Lives; the booklet looks more like something one would expect from a lugubrious Montréal post-rock collective than a New York electropop band, and betrays a morbid obsession with Joan of Arc. Photos here.
Incidentally, Hoxton Square on a Friday night is a rather interesting experience; upon entering the square, the noise of hundreds of people talking is the first thing one notices. The crowds outside the clubs and swanky bars are to be expected; the large numbers of people sitting on the grass in the centre of the square, as if waiting for a band to come on at an outdoor concert, seemed a bit more unusual. Were they there just to bask in the ambient coolness that is Hoxton? Is this what the cool set in London do when they become too old to get their teenage kicks by walking slowly up and down Camden High St. in orange "PSYCHO WARD" shirts, hardcore band patches and cutesy-goth-cartoon-character bags or something?
Your Humble Narrator went to see (a reconstituted version of) 1980s new-romantics Visage play in Soho.
The first support band was Suzerain, already mentioned on these pages. Suffice it to say that they were very good; somewhere between Duran Duran and David Bowie, only with more guitar solos. They have the pop sensibility down pat and the rock-star stage presence, and should go far. It's somewhat surprising that they haven't been signed yet.
Trademark were amusing; three spoddy-looking chaps in raincoats (and later fairy-light-festooned lab coats) playing a warm and somewhat geeky electropop (think something like Barcelona without the guitars, or perhaps Baxendale meets Casionova). The front man looked ever so much like Jack Morgan from Look Around You, and they did a love song with the words "simple harmonic motion" in the lyrics, so where can you go wrong?
Visage (or, more accurately, Visage Mk. II) came on and did a ~20-minute set, a preview of their main gig this Saturday. Steve Strange had hair like a less flamboyant Robert Smith and was wearing something that looked like a torn, paint-splattered military uniform of some sort, and his mascara seemed somewhat smeared. In performance, he wasn't quite the ice queen I expected; he danced around with a slightly goofy grin, and interacted with the audience, laying on hands. At one stage, he took a glow stick from a gaggle of goths near the stage and made their day. Anyway, Visage Mk. II did all old songs (The Damned Don't Cry, Love Glove, We Move, The Anvil and, of course, their genre-defining classic of existentialist disco, Fade To Grey). The songs sounded somewhat different than the old records, being played on modern digital-modelling synths. (Most of the songs had a standard post-90s 4/4 dance beat, for one).
The music played by the DJ between sets was a mix of 80s synthpop/electronic pop (Human League, A-Ha, Dead Or Alive, Bananarama), with small amounts of glam (Transvision Vamp and Electric Six both got a play) and a few goth-club crowd-pleasers (some Depeche Mode, NIN, and an EBM/darkwave/futurepop/power-electronics/whatever they call it version of Purcell's Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, a.k.a. the theme from A Clockwork Orange). Your Humble Narrator left sometime before the DJ got around to playing Headhunter (which he surely must have; it seems to be the "Gotta Be Startin' Something" of people who wear a lot of black).
Anyway, there are photos here. My camera battery ran down towards the end, requiring me to shoot without the screen, which is why quality and quantity drop off a bit.
Live band of the moment: Suzerain. I saw them play in Soho last night, and was quite impressed. They're somewhere between Duran Duran, David Bowie and early Nine Inch Nails (with perhaps a bit of Icehouse or similar in the mix), and have a firm grasp of the pop sensibility. Anyway, there are MP3s here. I'll be surprised if someone doesn't sign these guys soon.