Friday, April 29, 2005

Gurnin' Japanese

Tokyo Dragons/Killin' Zoe/Vert, Wolves Little Civic, Monday April 25 2005.

It's a rainy night in Wolverhampton, as Randy Crawford almost certainly never sang, and aside from the three bands and their hangers-on there's perhaps just a handful of people in the crowd apart from your humble correspondent, his personal chauffeur Gisbourne, and Sticky, Gisb's work colleague from that job where he moonlights during the, um, daytime hours. Hard work then for the first band on, Vert, who've come all the way from sunny Telford (bastards! they could've given us a lift! it would have saved Dead Kenny a night's wages!) with their grungey blend of melodic metal. They struggle to get much out of the audience, but Dead Kenny consults his book of Backhanded Compliments and decides that, as support bands on quiet nights go, they adopt the right approach in playing with energy and not taking themselves too seriously. Oh, and the drumming was good. Not sure about the singer's dancing, though.

Kettering's Killin' Zoe are next up, delivering a sweaty combo of glam, goth and pubrock fronted by a rockgod trapped in a middle-aged pub landlady's body. The most notable aspect of the whole shebang (aside from the guitarist's hilarious hairstyle) proves to be a schizotypal rendition of New York Dolls' 'Personality Crisis'. But, all in all, it's a bit too early for an Earl Brutus revival, surely?

Tokyo Dragons are four Londoners said to have taken the influences of AC/DC; Motorhead and Thin Lizzy and fused them into their own distinctive brand of unironic rock 'n' roll. And yet some of the guitarist's posing and gurning suggests it's pretty much impossible for any post-Spinal Tap band not to be on better acquaintance with irony than Alanis Morrisette. Maybe it's all the idea of their record label, Island Records, hopeful of recouping their investment by nudging their hopefuls into the heart of Darkness territory, but Tokyo Dragons deserve far, far better than a fate like that.

The AC/DC and Motorhead references seem to be pretty spot on, as the boys deliver fast and loud metal music with an anthemic punch, albeit laced with a slightly bitter dose of unreconstructed old-skool sexism (witness their record covers and song titles like 'Get 'Em Off'). In the live arena, though, the more questionable aspects of their worldview and lack of originality can be quickly forgotten in the face of killer choruses, dualling guitar solos and an entertaining drummer. Dead Kenny decides therefore to toss his book of critical objectivity to one side and wave his hands in the air like he just doesn't care, while behind him Gisbourne and the Stickmeister instead feast on their eyes on a blonde girl near enough falling out of her flimsy black top (was the absence of a bra ironic or unironic? discuss). It's only rock and aureola, but they like it, like it, like it.


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