Winnie The Poof
The Naked Grace Missionaries
The Macbeth, London
Saturday December 28 2013
Last time I saw Fayann Smith, she was rolling around on the floor at the Resistance Gallery, hollering over some uber-cranked electronix 'n' guitar, as part of Occult Hardware.
The time before that I saw Fayann Smith, she was rolling around on the floor at Tesco Disco, hollering over some uber-cranked electronix 'n' guitar, as part of The Kill For Kicks.
Tonight, however, she's part of The
Naked Grace Missionaries,
and in a radical break with tradition she's standing upright, letting
rip a fine blues diva wail, while some acoustic guitar prances nimbly
around her vocal. I
t's a surprising performance - not just because of the band's understated yet forceful presence, but because I had no idea there was a genuinely great voice lurking behind Fayann's previous freak-outs. If this is punk rock future-gospel (and it might be), bring it on.
Winnie The Poof comes on like a gauche, diffident version of Wreckless Eric. He's got a selection of odd little story songs, which range from the surreal to the vaguely disturbing, which he recounts in a matter-of-fact tone while his colleague provides guitar accompaniment.
It's an odd cross between beat poetry and the Buzzcocks - there's something Pete Shelley-ish about Winnie The Poof's whimsical Englishman against the world persona.
When he gets intense and ends up
scrabbling around on the floor it's an almost surreal diversion into
the dynamics of rock 'n' roll.
The dynamics of rock 'n' roll arrive for real now, in the shape of The Berries - a curiously non-committal name for an all-girl combo who manage to make the right kind of rock noise without ever quite rocking the boat. At a guess, I'd say the band is built around the guitarist, who never loses an opportunity to get a little extravagant on the fretboard, as if her inner Ritchie Blackmore is prodding her in the direction of rawk.
The overall result is a little between-two-stools: do The Berries want to be a new-wavey, indie-rocky outfit, all fuzztone fun and guileless cham? Or do they want to bring the rock, all the way to the AOR enormodone?
I don't know...and I'm not sure
The Berries know, either.
And now, a bit of blurb for you:
"An Archetype that has been missing from the music world for some time."
That's how Deadcuts describe themselves. And they're certainly the very model of a sleazoid rock band, a gang of geezers in rumpled gangster suits, like a bunch of getaway drivers on their way to a bank raid.
They're a scruffy Suede, a lowlife Lords Of The
New Church, and they practically ooze low-slung rock 'n' rollness from
every riff. They've got the ragged-but-right rock sound nailed, although
on tonight's showing I'm not so sure if they've got the songs.
If rock 'n' roll is anything, it's immediate, and Deadcuts songs seem to
be growers, rather than instant hits.
In a way, Deadcuts seem to be a work in progress. Tonight, perhaps, is a trial run for a band which hasn't quite got the details sorted yet.
detail, possibly, is the band's lead vocalist. For most of the set, guitarist
Mark Keds steps up to the microphone, half goofy, half crafty, like a cross
between Johnny Thunders and a used car salesman.
But then Beatrice Brown - previously of Beastellabeast - is called to the stage to take the vocal on a few songs. She gets a great reception from the crowd, and her cool presence is a neat foil to the boys' rock 'n' roll wastrel personas.
But I'm not entirely sure if her appearance is in the nature of a special guest appearance, or whether she's a full-time co-lead vocalist, or what. Maybe the Deadcuts aren't such an archetype after all. Perhaps we're seeing a prototype being given a test run tonight.
The Berries: Facebook
Winnie The Poof: Website | Facebook
The Naked Grace Missionaries: Facebook
For more photos from this gig, find Deadcuts by name here.