What sort of name is Kindle? It suggests something small, something made up of little bits. Kindling is small twigs, used for starting a fire: Kindle, the band, are a bit bigger than twigs, but they've still got to overcome that silly, diminutive, name.
It's not for the want of guitar thrashing and exotic dancing, but they don't quite make it.
Because guitar thrashing and exotic dancing are pretty much the sum total of Kindle's stage show. There is no band. Kindle is, apparently, one man and his guitar, with the resulting vast area of empty stage space given over to the gyrations of a be-corseted dancer. As a concept - rock 'n' roll burlesque, I suppose you'd call it - this probably looks great in theory but is frankly rather underwhelming in reality. No vocals, no focal point: just the thrashy guitar, the thump of the backing track....and a bit of dancing to fill the space. It all looks a bit too much like a guitarist having an inconclusive jam session with himself until the band arrives. The band, alas, does not arrive, and Kindle's fire does not catch light.
Here comes Alexander Price, and the band still hasn't arrived. Alexander Price is a disco king in a gold lamé jacket, and his show is very much in the tradition of a 'personal appearance' - that interlude down the disco when the DJ goes for a toilet break and lets a star of the dance scene strut their stuff for a while.
Alexander Price isn't quite a star of the dance scene yet, and you could argue that appearances at events like this - definitely a gig rather than a club - will not put him in front of his target audience. Still, he gives it loads, for all the world as if he's on stage at New York's Studio 54 instead of in a room above a bar, half way up Kilburn High Road.
Three dancers in fishnet and big hair cavort around him like the 80s just got revived, and in truth his insistent, assertive, retro-electro tunes aren't all that bad - they sound like out-takes from early editions of those Now That's What I Call Music compilations, and I suspect Alexander Price would consider that quite a compliment. But is the world ready for the 80s dance-pop revival? The jury's out on that one.
Back in the 90s I saw Hoggdoll play a support slot at the Marquee, on goth night, no less. Maybe the band found that gig hard to live down, for they more or less vanished below the parapet soon afterwards. Or perhaps the fashion design career of the band's leader, Pam Hogg, took precedence - either way, the absence of Hoggdoll from the fray over the years has always been a matter of regret for me. Pam Hogg's take on low-slung, gritty-but-glam rock 'n' roll, as if Poison Ivy had ousted Lux Interior as The Cramps' front person, was pretty nifty stuff.
I'm pleased to see that - at last - she's back. But she's back without a band. This is another performance-as-personal-appearance. Stalking the stage in a cat suit so shiny it could almost be chromed steel, Pam makes a splendid futuristic rock diva, a female Ziggy Stardust in implacable shades. She commands the stage in fine style as the backing track bumps and grinds, but again I find myself wishing there was a a band alongside Pam, not just a brief, tantalising, solo hint of what could be.
By now I'm almost ready to welcome some sort of cut-down Client, an economy version of the band with vocalist Client B parading in front of a backing track. Fortunately, the band are actually here for real and in full.
Clients A, B, and E are sternly resolute in severe grey dresses, but they're unable to supress grins that reveal their austere image isn't quite as unbending as they'd have us believe. And Client's music, brisk, nimble, electropop that never stints on nagging hooks and rousing choruses, is certainly more upbeat than the band's carefully contrived visuals might suggest.
Tonight's audience, perhaps as relieved as I am that we've got at least one act on the bill that's playing it like a proper gig, gets a good dance on, and Client B - as she surveys the audience, microphone held aloft like a trophy - can't help but give a broad smile. Client might look like the cabin crew on some sort of uber-puritanical economy airline, but their destination is always a party.
For more photos from this gig, find Client by name here.