Thursday, October 13, 2005

Ursine Of The Times

51 Breaks/When Bears Attack/The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Thinktank (Project), A Different Kettle Of Fish, Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham, Tuesday 11 October 2005.

The issue with attending gigs on consecutive nights remains that there's a palpable danger of nosediving from the sublime to the ridiculous within a pitlessly short space of time. And thus within 24 hours of gazing at Mira Aroyo of Ladytron (see full review) and contemplating everything from genetics to the frustrations of international dating to a frosted soundtrack of sleek, dynamic electropop, Dead Kenny is now chombling on a chocolate bourbon faced with an overweight and balding gentleman playing the keyboards in nothing but a pair of huge royal blue underpants and a t-shirt emblazoned with Phil Collins' gurning physiog. Yes, that's right, it's another Different Kettle Of Fish as organised by Birmingham's Branson (he hasn't got an airship yet, but Dead Kenny hears he is a demon with paper planes) and the band concerned is (deep breath) The Graham Parsnip Liquidiser Torture Think-Tank Project whose lead singer looks like a chubbier version of legendary Sportsnight presenter David Vine, and is now running around the dancefloor like a lunatic pretending to be a trout. No doubt when the band are rightly booked to play student halls and works functions up and down the country, many otherwise sensible ladies and gentlemen will be minded to join in on the latest fishy-fingered dance craze. This will hitherto be known as The Trout Task Replica. The GPLTTTP (as they like to be known) aren't one-trick ponies though, they also have songs about Psycho Dave, local earthquakes and one man's unnatural love for agricultural plant machinery ('un, deux,'s TRACTOR LOVE'). All deeply, deeply silly and they probably shouldn't be encouraged! Try telling that to StrangeTime's Kate Finch, though, who's greasing the axles of their egos with banter throughout the show.

Next up are When Bears Attack who might sound like a ropey late-night show on Five but are in fact a collection of local misfits who've been around the Midlands gigging scene for several years and are at the forefront of integrating the trombone into the post-rock musical vernacular. The interesting thing is that the use of the trombone seems like the least odd aspect of the band, who count amongst their number an accomplished guitarist who is wearing a porkpie hat and looks like the missing link between Stan Ogden and Tony Hancock, and a lead singer who emotes with a fury that seems about to explode from his wiry frame like an alien monster from his concave chest. 'They're a bit like The Fall, don't you think?' ponders The Prykemeister, and far be it for me to quibble with the Second City's pre-eminent cultural diarist, but Dead Kenny wouldn't quite go that far, although they definitely have something going for them, an indefinable oddball appeal. The lead singer really needs to think though about how to keep his glasses on his face while his limbs are contorting and flailing as Dead Kenny's concentration was found wavering with concern at the safety of his delicate optical equipment while all internal hell was being let loose. When Bears Attack, then: give them some contact lenses and they'll be dangerous. As dangerous as wild bears. ROWWWWRRRR!

Slotted in as last-minute replacements for {Hooker} are 51 Breaks, four Birmingham lads who immediately raise the hackles of Dead Kenny by being younger and better-looking than your correspondent (what were the odds on that, eh?). Ben's not happy, either, as spotting the bassist's Kasabian t-shirt sets his face into a permascowl not lifted until somebody gets the next round in. The lead singer plays keyboards and there will be obvious comparisons to the likes of Keane and Coldplay, their songs proving melodious but not especially memorable. Dead Kenny is ready to dismiss them with the notion that they need to do more work on carving their own identity, when a strange thing happens during their last two or three numbers: 51 Breaks snap to it and do just that, or maybe it's just the accumulated sugar rush of all that alcohol and chocolate biscuits on his damaged neural membranes.



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