The Hip Priests
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Thursday 11 September 2014
Someone must've slipped the lighting operator a few
go-go pills tonight, I reckon.
The Hip Priests, heavily styled rock 'n' roll reprobates in biker-black denim, flail incongruously under manic, ever-shifting flashy-flashy disco lights that blast the band with high intensity candlepower before plunging the stage into abrupt darkness.
It's probably not quite the way The Hip Priests would like to present their rambunctious rebel-rock workouts, but rock 'n' roll rules apply: when you're the first band on, you gotta take what you can get.
rate, the lads wallop out a set of fast 'n' furious rockers regardless. Their
attitude-laden anthem 'Zero Fucks Given' (which, essentially, amounts to some
hurtling guitar riffage over which the singer yells 'Zero fucks given!') is
their calling card and their concept in a nutshell.
The Dogbones are also lumbered with unhelpful lighting effects. Intense white searchlight beams sweep the stage, as if looking for enemy aircraft. Occasionally a band member is starkly illuminated in a retina-searing pool of ice white as the light briefly captures them - there's Johnny Orion in his silver jacket, looking like a glammy starfighter pilot about to leap into his X-wing. And there's Nomi Leonard, all yellow hair and foetus graphics, surveying the audience as if calculating exactly how much madness to unleash tonight.
If you're taking notes, I'd say we get about 86% of The Dogbones' usual madness quotient.
The band are in a support slot at this gig, and, as I've remarked previously, they tend to be on their best behaviour in such situations.
Not a bad strategy:
capture new fans
by making like a regular rock band (well, sort of, almost, a bit) and then
hit 'em with the hard stuff at the next headline show.
But even when they've dialled down their Dadaist tendencies, The Dogbones are still a force to be reckoned with.
Their messy at the edges, grimy yet sparkly, post-grunge glam is, as ever, a heady racket. New songs jostle the old songs, and the old songs have been given a shake-up.
In particular, 'Goodbye Miss Jane' now has an extended coda: the band mix up a stuttering rhythmic cocktail while Johnny Orion struts about the stage, grinning and talking to himself in a frankly rather disturbing fashion. Maybe Dada is in the house after all.
And now, Deadcuts are in the house. If The Clash were
the last gang in town, Deadcuts must be the last but one. They look like
a firm on a blag: all suit jackets and impassive stares. The band set out
their stall under mercifully less frantic lights (someone must've slipped
the lighting tech a spliff), and off we go
into the band's ragged and frayed rock 'n' roll, the soundtrack
to bleary-eyed nights and low-life romances.
Deadcuts wear their air of back-alley troubadours with insousciant grace.
Mark Keds, vocalist and guitarist, is half
Johnny Thunders, half Artful Dodger as he lolls at the microphone stand as
if hanging out on a Soho street corner.
It's not a new thing, of course: bands have been presenting themselves as tough-but-tender street poets for years (Suede were particularly good at it).
But Deadcuts have their own peculiar cool
- and they also have a secret weapon in the form of Beatrice Brown, formerly
one half of Beastellabeast with the late Steve New. She's now a kind of part-time
Deadcut, and - not wishing to do anyone else out of a job here, you understand
- I can't help wishing she was a full-time Deadcut.
Her brief appearance in the middle of tonight's set is a highlight, and brings a certain wistful charm to a performance that's otherwise all about the lads' ruffianly flash.
'Ragged Star', an affecting ballad dedicated to Steve New, practically has the audience wiping tears from its eyes. But then the chaps crank up the heavy artillery, and Deadcuts get their gangster swagger on again - rock 'n' roll desperados looking for action. Tonight, at least, they've found it.
For more photos from this gig,
find Deadcuts and The Dogbones by name here.