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Cold In Berlin
We Buy GoldWe Buy Gold
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Sunday July 31 2011

 

There's a grown man on stage who has just exclaimed in tones of great enthusiasm, "Boom! Let's 'ave it!" I swear I'm in the presence of Ravey Davey Gravey from the pages of Viz.

But no - this is, in fact, the vocalist with We Buy Gold, a dance-rock outfit who seem to be aiming for a kind of Chilli Peppers funked-up vibe.

Unfortunately, with Ravey Davey up front, dancing around like a drunken sales executive at the office party and hollering his gormless jolly-ups, it's all gone a bit embarrassing.

It's like watching David Brent fronting Goldie Lookin Chain. And at least the Goldies knew they were being funny.

It seems whoever booked tonight's bands simply pulled names out of a hat. I can think of quite a few bands who'd be good supports for Cold In Berlin - and who'd work together in creating a cohesive overall atmosphere for the night. That kind of gig rarely happens these days, alas. Most promoters around London seem to book bands randomly, as if putting a gig together was merely an admin task.

But there's an art to it. You're not just filling stage slots with whoever's at the top of the demo pile this week. You should be trying to create an overall aesthetic, a vibe - as Ravey Davey from We Buy Gold would probably 'ave it. Then, Cold In Berlinwith any luck, the bands' crowds cross over and everyone gets to add a few extra people to their fanbases - and, as a night out for Johnny Punter, the whole event just works.

Well, it's not working for We Buy Gold. They play to a handful of mates. The Cold In Berlin fanbase clearly isn't interested in their clod-hopping dad-dancing. In fact, the Cold In Berlin fanbase isn't even in the room. Fortunately, when headline time comes round the band's bespoke crowd materialises as if by magic, and - at last - we get to see the good stuff.

Cold In Berlin are like a blast of cold air on the back of your neck. They're intense and wild-eyed and just the right side of scary (you decide which side that is). Tonight they're really kicking.

They go steaming into their set with a prickly righteousness, as if they know it's down to them to wrench the evening's entertainment back in the direction of something relevant, something contemporary, something cool.

Cold In Berlin's songs are staccato bursts of sonic lightning, like sparks flying from a Van Der Graaf generator. Chief spark is vocalist Maya, a controlled frenzy in purple. She writhes at the mic like she's fighting demons. At times she descends from the stage to take those demons to the audience, who don't know whether to hang back nervously or headbang (they do a bit of both).

It's impossible to experience Maya's agonised holler on 'No White Horse', Cold In Berlin's all-purpose anthem to the apocalypse, without feeling oddly guilty, as if we're all personifiications of the "stupid little fucker" in the song.

When the band pitch headlong into the bang-bang-bang of 'What Went Wrong' it's such an intimidating snarl of noise that you involuntarily start racking your brains to provide an answer to the band's brusque demand. Cold In Berlin's songs connect.

'Total Fear' wraps up the gig, all bass-thrum and escalating intensity. Maya inserts a bespoke lyric just for tonight: "We hate your fucking Shoreditch scene" - and there are a few wry grins in the crowd at that one, because this is the Shoreditch scene. Cold In Berlin inhabit it. It gave - and still gives - them their audience. Now there's an irony.

But there's a pertinent point in there, too. Cold In Berlin can't spend their entire career playing the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, or other venues nearby. It's a good place to start, but nobody ever got to be stars by staying local - especially if the only promoters around now are the names-out-of-a-hat merchants. It's time to spread some of that total fear around a bit.

Cold In Berlin  

Cold In Berlin:

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We Buy Gold:

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For more photos from this gig, find Cold In Berlin by name here.

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Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.
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