Monday, June 25, 2007

Shrew Stew, Sir!

CSS/The Holloways/The Pipettes/The Wombats, Music Hall, Shrewsbury, Tuesday June 19 2007.

It's not often you get one decent indie band playing in the shotgun capital of Shropshire, so to get four in one night, for the princely sum of 12 quid, is an offer too good to miss. With proceeds going towards cancer research, what could go wrong? Well, your correspondent only managing to catch the tail end of The Wombats, for starters. Harsh to gauge them on just a few tunes although the latest on the seemingly never-ending Scally scamp production line look fairly unexceptional and have some meat-and-potatoes songs before bringing the gravy with closing number and veritable radio hit 'Backfire At The Disco' (like Los Campesinos! bowdlerised of all art-school pretension but sounding a much better idea than that might seem).

Is there life after marsupials? Seems so, in the frisky shape of The Pipettes who have their usual fun in tearing through material from fabulous debut 'We Are The Pipettes' plus dropping in a few promising newbies like 'By My Side'. To see this band is to adore them, and the Parallax View's uncompromising take on The Pipettes is you either like 'em or you're stupid, that simple. The album title track, 'Judy', 'Pull Shapes', 'One Night Stand' and 'Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me' are all dispatched with a soupcon of sauce, with Rosie in particularly fine voice and Gwenno exuding enough star wattage to blister a black hole right through any doubts you might have about the retro nature of their appeal.

There's a fair few exiting the venue at the end of this set, maybe it's a hardcore Pipettes posse or someone told 'em The Holloways are coming on next. To be fair, the Cockney ska shamblers are personable enough but you get the impression that however many times they re-release 'Generator' they're never quite going to shrug off the 'poor man's Ordinary Boys' tag. In truth they seem popular with boisterous boys in the audience, but the fact that the ongoing tussles between the crowdsurfers and ill-prepared security staff grab the attention for long stages of the performance reveals the uninvolving nature of much of their material.

Last time your correspondent saw CSS was in December in a hot and sweaty Birmingham Academy 2 where the view was sufficiently impaired to reduce the impact of the performance. On the Music Hall's more elevated stage this isn't a problem tonight, allowing Dead Kenny to marvel at how easily they've evolved from intimate club performers to hall-filling headliners. There's still some clumsy charm intact but it all seems much more well-drilled and professional while Lovefoxx revels in her demented disco Bjork persona, stripping off her skintight catsuit at one reveal another even more skintight catsuit underneath. Aside from all the favourites from last year's flippin' essential self-titled CD they find room for a cover of L7's 'Pretend That We're Dead', but judging from the twitching limbs of all around me it's one order this crowd feel no capability of following.

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Blogger Simon said...

Ah, I thought long and hard about going to this before realising there'd be no way of making it back the same evening. And it probably sold out in seconds, so I suspect that's my last real chance of seeing CSS live gone.

If you're keen there's a whole properly recorded Pipettes gig from one of their US dates earlier this month doing the rounds (haven't got the URL to hand but it's on The Hype Machine), which is great stuff and demonstrates how far they've come as onstage performers as well as including five new songs. And apparently Gwenno's solo album is coming before Pipettes II, which is all very good.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I really enjoyed CSS at Glastonbury. As for The Holloways, "a poor man's Ordinary Boys" - ouch!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Simon, you could have crashed at the Parallax View homestead, but that mightn't have made it any easier for you to get to work next morning, to be fair. Haven't heard much of the Gwenno solo stuff but that's interesting news on the upcoming record and thanks for the Hype Machine tip. They really are so much better than the pastiche pigeonhole some seem intent on dismissing them into.

Ben, glad you enjoyed Glasto and its attendant Lovefoxxx-iness, but could you wipe your feet before stepping over our doorstep next time, or at least take your wellies off? We're not Worthy, y'know ;-)

9:00 PM  

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