Wednesday, May 31, 2006

See Emily Play

Metric/Komakino/The Suffrajets, Barfly, Birmingham, Wednesday May 17 2006.

Never let it be said that Dead Kenny doesn't know how to get a girl sodden in anticipation - it's easy really, just bring her out to a gig in the pouring rain, as Alison finds out as she meets me wet, wild and willing to be entertained by guitar bands, in the memorable location of a bus shelter in Digbeth. It was sunny in Scotland at the weekend, apparently, so the papier-mache of my credibility is resting on the bands being good.

First up are London girls The Suffrajets, led by a chirpy singer who's like a (slightly) taller, female version of The Artful Dodger, and also including in their number drummer Gemma Clarke, who used to be in Babyshambles before she got fed up of being fed smack, crackle and pop for breakfast (or summat like that, anyway). The band exhume the spirit of previous all-girl rockers like Girlschool and The Runaways as they throw their rock shapes out of the pram, set them alight and dance on the detritus. The set is bookended by two moments of brilliance: their debut single 'Going Nowhere' is given some extra wallop in the live arena, while the set closer sees some big bloke bounce on stage and rap along in a demented manner like Mr C never went out of fashion. Alison however, seems less than impressed, as, judging on her expression, the weather forecast remains thundery.

Your correspondent assures her things can only get better, crossing his fingers behind his back as he does so, knowing Derby's Komakino by reputation alone. Mind you, the same seems to go for the band because if there's ever been a group with a serious case of believing their own publicity it's this lot. We like an act with confidence and ambition, but their stadium-rock prancing and showbiz moves only serves to highlight the hit-and-miss quality levels of their material. Parallax View prescribes less time practising in front of the mirror and more time and energy writing new songs to match their best ones. They do get a bonus point nevertheless for giving Dead Kenny a chuckle when the singer casually uses the shoulder of a gormless-looking stude in the front row as a prop to lean into the crowd. Alison, however, remains unamused. 'I can see why you might have thought I'd like them better than The Suffrajets' she says, which only makes your long-suffering hack feel marginally better about things, to be frank.

There's a lot riding on the headliners then, but if Metric realise the pressure they're under they do a reasonably sound job of disguising it. Led by occasional Broken Social Scene collaborator Emily Haines (a skinny blonde in a Ramones t-shirt) they play with a quiet confidence and unforced professionalism that contrasts sharply with their immediate predecessors on stage. The music itself is anything but quiet, however - the band are quite poppy and 'new wave' on record, but live the songs have a more raucous, powerful edge, building into extended jams not unlike BSS at times. Their new (second) album comes out in July and if they do a good job of translating their bluesy, ballsy rock'n'roll onto record, we can expect a full Metric conversion in the summer. Alison's smiling, so it must be true.


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