Saturday, February 23, 2008

Gig Review Ketchup

Blood Red Shoes/Lovvers, Little Civic, Wolverhampton, Monday February 4 2008, 8.30pm.
Betty & The Id/Liechtenstein/Horowitz , The Autumn Store, Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham, Thursday February 7 2008, 9pm.
Los Campesinos!/Johnny Foreigner, Carling Academy 2, Birmingham, Wednesday February 13 2008, 8.45pm.

Worcester-sourced Lovvers offer a grunge-flavoured brand of post-punk with plenty of energy, noise, attitude and charisma, but not much in the way of memorable tunes, though their champions would no doubt argue melodies aren't exactly their point. As for the main band, it's a case of Blood Red A-tishoos rather than Blood Red Shoes as Laura-Mary has a terrible cold and has lost her voice, leaving the drummer Steven to carry out all the vocal chores. Given that a large part of the bands' appeal is the vocal interplay between the two it says a lot for the quality of their pop hooks that the gig remains a success despite this aspect being muted. And rumours that your cold remedy-carrying correspondent was found wandering the backstage area looking for Laura-Mary while lugging a lorryload of Vicks will remain unconfirmed.

Another band who've taken so long to get their debut album out that a backlash has started before it comes out (common factor: the stewardship of V2 Records) are Cardiff's Los Campesinos!. Said record Hold On Now, Youngster! has been slated in some parts for it's one (helter-skelter) pace, but live, that's a big part of the fun, and that criticism seems as harsh as Gareth's new haircut. 'You! Me! Dancing!' remains as exhilarating as ever, although perhaps it's a sign of our increasing old age that as we look on at all the crowdsurfing (Gareth, at one point, included) the security guy looks so much cooler in his disaffected manner than the giddy youths he's trying to control and protect.

Earlier, Johnny Foreigner hardly put a foot wrong musically with scorching guitar and rat-a-tat vocal interplay we've become accustomed to from their brilliant 'Arcs Across The City' mini-album, tonight's show also including the currently-fashionable Pavement cover. But as The Prykemeister has noted, their banter needs a bit of work, with the entreaty to buy enough merchandise to help get them out of Birmingham destined to work anywhere but the Second City itself. Then again, maybe that was their joke.

In between these gigs, ventured into a packed-out Autumn Store night at the Sunflower Lounge. Stoke-On-Trent's Horowitz are a little odd-looking and have their technical difficulties, but neither factor can detract from the simple pop beauty of their tunes, with an extra layer of guitar fuzz live adding to the lovely warmth of gems like 'Pop Kids Of The World Unite!'. Sweden's Liechtenstein were one of our Music Tips of 2008, and the all-girl group from Gothenburg don't disappoint, entrancing the audience with their shiny-eyed charm and intricate, engaging songcraft. We recommend that you track down debut single 'Stalking Skills' with immediate and stealthy effect. Local band Betty & The Id were late additions to the bill, and not what you might call traditional Autumn Store fayre, but with the drinks starting to kick in, their driven brand of drone-rock gave the evening a happy head-nodding finish.

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