Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Drums @ Heaven 9/06/10

Back to Heaven again for the final date of the three night residency by one of the official ‘next big things’ of 2010. The Drums are a hideously young looking bunch of Americans whom I recently interviewed for Guitarist. I even gave their debut album 4 and a half stars out of 5. After tonight I feel like retracting that score, for this was one of those rare gigs where one particular aspect of the evening has almost completely put off the group.

Urgh, his name is lead singer Jonathan Pierce and tonight was one of the most cringemaking performances by a frontman I have ever witnessed. I should have known something was amiss when they started the show backlit, only for Jonathan to announce in exaggeratngly theatrical style ‘hello we’re the Drums and we’re from New York’.

Aren’t all bands from New York supposed to be cool? You know like the Velvets, Ramones and the Strokes (the band who drowned in a puddle of their own cool). Not this lot. The Drums come over as four tweebs with an unfortunate fetish for mid 80s UK indie pop. The worst offender by far is Pierce who has clearly wasted far too much of his time Youtubing The Smiths. He minces, sashays and generally camps around the stage like a young Morrissey on heat.  It’s truly excruciating and actively detracts from the music – snappy streamlined guitar pop that’s really quite catchy.

He doesn’t seem to realise that to pull this sort of persona off you need a little bit of distance from yourself. Morrissey of course had a showbiz wink to make us realise that it wasn’t for real. Jarvis Cocker always let the audience in on the secret and anyway his persona drew on the archetypes of the Northern working men’s club/ TV game show host. But when Pierce finishes waving his arms around after each song he thanks the audience from the bottom of his heart with what sounds like deeply-felt sincerity. He looks like he means it. He actually looks like a bit of a dick.

It’s a pity as the music is great. It’s still one of my favourite albums of the year. But if I was a member of the Drums I’d have a serious word with my singer and tell him to tone it down a bit. Either that or someone should shove a copy of Notes On Camp under his nose – this is a frontman who badly needs to acquire a pair of inverted commas.

I am Very Excited

So the World Cup starts today. At the risk of looking a bit stupid in a few weeks time here are a few predictions:

* England will draw their first match with the USA. They’ll top their group but go out in the second round. On penalties, as usual. And oh yes, somewhere along the line Rooney will get himself sent off.

* One of the African nations will do really well and get to the Semis. Maybe Ivory Coast. Or Cameroon.

* There will be endless controversy and complaints from players and managers alike about that bloody ball.

* And…Argentina will win it. You heard it here first.

Needless to say I am very very excited about the whole thing. Actually, to be specific, my favourite part is the first two weeks when all 32 countries are still it. It’s at this stage when there is a beautiful sense of total possibility, that wherever you come from and whoever you support your team could, if not win the thing outright, ruffle some feathers. It’s something of an overstated cliche that the World Cup unites the world but there is definitely something in it. There’s a purity to it that club football lost a long time ago.

I remember four years ago in Germany I experienced this first hand. I had been lucky enough to get a ticket for the Ghana – Czech Republic match in Cologne. A great game, one of the few upsets of the 2006 competition. I had just left the ground when I heard this commotion a few hundred yards outside the stadium. It was a load of Ghana fans celebrating. There were all banging drums, dancing and singing and generally having a bit of a party. As I got nearer I could see there were a few Czech fans there too, obviously not too disapointed by their team’s defeat. I stood back and marvelled. Gradually more and more fans joined this congregation. I could see some Argentines, a Japanese couple, some English lads, some Mexico fans. For a good twenty minutes this international gathering danced, banged and drunk deep on the shared euphoria of just being here, now, at this moment, at the greatest football tournament on earth. It was completely unscripted and impromptu and I will never forget it as long as I live.

Beach House @ Heaven 1/06/10

Don’t know about you but sometimes I like the idea of a band better than the band itself. I love Beach House’s central conceit: quirky-looking boy and girl conjure up woozy, languid drug music with little more than a battered old organ and a slide guitar. Tonight though that image ran up against a brick wall in the shape of a poor sound and a setting that was all wrong wrong wrong. Ideally, the best place for Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s fragile wistful dreampop would be a Victorian theatre in some peeling down-at-heel seaside resort. Coney Island, after a three day binge. Not some sweaty night club in central London. As people chatted around me and all the nuances and subtleties that are so sublime on record got lost in a muddy PA, the magic slowly dissipated and they just sounded…a bit boring. The crowd didn’t seem too bothered either – only Used To Be and Zebra (from their recent, third and best album Teen Dream) garnered much of a response this evening. I’m sure I caught my friend stifling a yawn at one point.

The best pop provides a tool to unlock your own imagination. But all too often real life is unable to repay the debt run up by such idle reverie. Somewhere deep inside my mind the waves are lapping, the sun is setting and Beach House are playing their fantasy gig. But it’s not here, not like this, not tonight.

Fantastic new record alert!

This is what blogs are for, aren’t they? Bigging up records that you like? I find it hard to believe that Radio One haven’t playlisted Crush, the current single by young UK rapper Fugative. Quite simply, the British public won’t hear a catchier single all year. One play and the chorus will be bouncing round your head from now til Christmas. If you listen to it too much (and I’ve had to ration myself to just one Youtube viewing a day) you feel like you’re overdosing on Refreshers.

I had never heard of Fugative until the other week when he turned up on Radio One’s Review show and tried to play it cool, claiming that he didn’t like most of the records and only listened to hip hop. The sign of a guilty conscience, methinks. Well, he shouldn’t feel guilty. If there’s any justice, and crucially, if Radio One do the decent thing, Crush will be huge this summer.

My favourite bit? ‘Workitoutworkitoutworkitout gurl!’

Blimey, does this now mean I’m a blogger?  And I’m part of (yeuch! Ugly phrase) the blogosphere? Oh dear.