not often that we see a big, black, none-more-rock-star Nightliner bus
parked outside this small, back room of a pub venue (it may style itself,
optimistically, as the Water Rats Theatre, but, face it, kids,
it's the back room of a pub).
A crowd of eager trash-pop kids, who all look like they've employed Devo as their stylists, ram the venue. They grab the prime spots at the front, ready for Jeffree Star's appearance - even though we've got the support bands to get through first. And here comes support number one.
Me My Head have a name that looks like it was badly translated from Serbo-Croat, and a well-drilled line in slick, high drama rock that never gets too abrasive even as it staples its hand to its forehead in every rousing us-against-the-world chorus. Keyboards rink and dink somewhere amid the guitar maelstrom, while the vocalist, earnest and intense, hollers mightily as if he's convinced that he can solve the problems of the world, if only he can muster enough rock-messiah sincerity.
Me My Head are impressively professional, and their live show would not disgrace an arena headliner - which is, I suspect, exactly the prize the band are aiming for. Personally, I'm not sure the world needs a more-emo version of the Killers, but I wish the Heads well on their journey to the enormodomes.
My Passion supported Jeffree Star on his previous visit to the UK, and apparently all parties bonded so splendidly in the dressing room that Jeffree himself recruited the band for tonight's support slot. My Passion haven't calmed down at all in the intervening year or so - but then, My Passion don't do 'calm' at any time. What My Passion do is rampaging speedfreak rock that nevertheless never strays too far from catchy chorus territory.
fact, My Passion have a certain genius for constructing crazed foot-to-the-floor
rock anthems which never travel at less than 100mph - but somehow retain
a pop sensibility which provokes even the most unreconstructed cynics
(a cap that, I confess, fits me rather well most of the time) into singing
along even as they're banging their heads and pogoing like mad things.
Headline time approaches. Anticipation builds to fever pitch. Jeffree Star inspires loyalty and fascination among his fans in equal measures. In a way, it's not hard to see why. He's an almost alien-like adrogynous prince of glam - all eyebrows, tattoos, and attitude. His defiant individualism, mixed in a colourful cocktail with bitchy wit and an all-pervasive self-belief, makes him an instant role model for disaffected teens who feel somehow at odds with the drab and restrictive everyday world (wait a minute, that's all of us, isn't it?).
At the very least, Jeffree Star gives us a window into a weird world of warped Hollywood glamour that - I can't help suspecting - might not quite exist anywhere outside his own head. But, if nothing else, it makes for a good back-story.
And here comes Jeffree, stalking out among his band of be-waistcoated new wave rock urchins. It seems Jeffree Star has rocked-up his stage show somewhat since last time. He now has the makings of an honest-to-goodness rock band around him, including, apparently, his brother - a reassuringly normal-looking chap - on drums. This means the songs hit a little harder; there's a hint of yer actual punk rock in the air.
Not that the fans are paying much attention to the subtle shifts of Jeffree Star's musical direction. They're too busy paying attention to Jeffree Star himself, who certainly doesn't do subtlety. He prances and prowls, ever and anon arching his eyebrows at the front row, while enunciating his not-quite-as-electro-as-they-used-to-be camp raps like a cross between Kenneth Williams and Lydia Lunch. It's not complex stuff, that's for sure - a beat, a riff, a sarky, camped-up rhyme - but in the overheated atmosphere, in front of this overexcited audience, the Jeffree Star Experience does the business.
Except...it doesn't do the business for very long. Almost as soon as it starts, the set is over. There is no encore. Jeffree Star leaves the stage, with an invitation to the crowd to join him later at the merchandise desk. I doubt if the set lasted much over a skimpy 25 minutes. The fans seem momentarily nonplussed, but then there's a mass surge to the outer bar, everyone anxious to grab a prime spot for the second half of the show - the meet 'n' greet.
And there's a thing. Maybe, in Jeffree Star's world, the simple concept of becoming a celebrity is more important than anything you actually do. Meeting the fans at the merchandise desk really does seem to be an integral part of the show - maybe, indeed, the most important part of the show.
the music is just a peg upon which Jeffree Star hopes to hang his celeb
status, and one day he won't even bother with that tiresome business of
playing a gig. He'll just do personal appearances at the merchandise desk,
and that pesky 25 minutes on stage won't even happen.
Although the plan might be some way from fruition yet - let's not forget, we're in the back room of a pub tonight - It'll be interesting to see which way Jeffree ultimately jumps.