Saturday, March 22, 2008

Still Smokin'

StrangeTime, The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham, Friday March 14 2008, 9pm.

This is your bashful blogger's first venture into The Rainbow since staggering in for some much needed grub during the Supersonic Festival back in 2005. It's a longer walk from New Street than remembered, so just as well there's long-suffering Toon Army trouper Ben along for company during the hefty stride to the venue. It's a big sprawling pub that's had something of a makeover in the intervening three years, and the bands play in what clearly used to be a backyard with a new roof, with an adjoining can bar and an open-plan kitchen area where burgers and other hot sundries are being cooked.

It is, of course, not just the beef patties and onion strips sizzling once Kate Finch and StrangeTime arrive on stage in bold, if slightly belated, fashion. Technical issues with distortion pedals are brushed to one side as they launch into 'Profile' (aka their 'MySpace song' with the lines 'so you've guessed/I'm self-obsessed') from their new ep, and yet as technically impressive as some of their new songs are, it's one of their oldest tunes, 'Ex-Boyfriend', given an extra roar of feeling tonight that someone's ears must be burning (and we don't mean from the barbecue smoke, either) that seems to get the neutrals right behind them. Our normally reliable source, the good General Hubbub, advises us the band have won quite a few new friends tonight with no prisoners taken (including John's drumstick at one point) during a feisty, fiery set.

Ben and your hurrying hack then need to make a fairly hasty exit to Wok'n'Roll, a cosy, boutique Chinese restaurant with a karaoke adjunct, to say a boisterous bon voyage to Alison who's escaping her role as occasional gig-going companion to your socially-challenged so-and-so for a new life in Bristol. We hope the local shops have had advance warning to stock up on Haribo!

Now we know what you're thinking, it's all very well for Dead Kenny to go on hobnobbing hi-jinks in intimate, fashionable ethnic eateries, but what about the other bands on the StrangeTime bill that we've casually left in the lurch of potential internet obscurity? Luckily then for your unreliable uberpundit the good Baron has swooped into view to review the whole fandangle and ensure the completists aren't hard up for comprehensive content. Huzzah!

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