Friday, April 10, 2009

Handsome Is As Handsome Does

Handsome Furs/Dan Smith, 93 Feet East, Brick Lane, East London, Wednesday March 8 2009, 8.45pm.

This is the third time in London for Handsome Furs' Canadian singer-guitarist Dan Boechner, perhaps better known thus far for one of his other bands Wolf Parade. The first time he got food poisoning, the second time he got roughed up, so will it be third time lucky on his debut gig here in the UK with the project he's set up with his wife/keyboard-drum machine oppo Alexei Perry?

Before we find out, there's the little matter of Dan Smith whose brand of folk left your patient pundit a little cold, with efforts to jazz things up with elements of ska, rap and even at one point some nu-metal, while welcome, only really serving to highlight the 'trad dad' lack of inspiration in the rest of the material. To end this part of the review on a positive note, however, the best song was announced as the newest and thus suggests this might be a work in progress, Radio2 listeners will undoubtedly love him, and the string section were kinda hot.

Whether its local fans of Londoner Smith lingering about, or a lot of internet buzz, or a combination of both, but the venue is pretty packed by the time Handsome Furs take stage. For the uninitiated, sonically they're kinda the musical intersection between The White Stripes and Bruce Springsteen, with some burbling electronic trimmings thrown in for good measure. Boechner is skinny, tattoo-ed and edgy with Perry supplying a kind of chipper curviness as well as huge amounts of bouncing energy to her instrumental duties, rotating her left arm so rapidly at one point your concerned correspondent thought she might take off helicopter-style.

The result is a big, loud noise but accessible, mainstream and pointedly unpretentious, each tune not forgetting to throw in an anthemic chorus and/or head-bobbing rhythm. Second album 'Face Control' is effectively a concept album inspired by a trip to Eastern Europe (the title refers to a superclub vetting policy where even exhorbitant pre-payment doesn't guarantee your entry if your physiog doesn't fit) although such lyrical concerns seemed to trouble the crowd little as they responded so warmly to the punchy radio rock of 'I'm Confused'; 'Talking Hotel Arbat Blues' and 'Evangeline' that Boechner admits he's gonna have to reassess his attitude to the capitol city after all. And despite his 'Mexican Fender' disintegrating and Perry's equipment having meltdown at various points through the show, it's perhaps no real surprise that huge fun travels so well.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home