Nemesis To Go on LiveJournal Nemesis To Go on Twitter Nemesis To Go on Mixcloud Nemesis To Go on Last FM Nemesis To Go on Facebook

Lene LovichLene Lovich
The Devices

Cargo, London
Wednesday April 24 2013


Lene Lovich, it seems, is back on the tour circuit for no reason other than she fancied a jaunt. Which is quite a refreshing state of affairs in the ruthless world of the music biz, where everything has a commercial imperative, everything is ultimately about selling something.

But there is no new Lene Lovich album to buy. Her last album release, Shadows And Dust, came out in 2005. Previous to that, you'd have to go back to the 1980s and beyond to catch up on her catalogue. That's something which, I suspect, tonight's audience of diehard 80s heads would be perfectly happy to do.

It's Lene's early hits which have pulled 'em in tonight, that run of idiosyncratic Stiff Records singles which livened up the charts at a time when punk was giving way to new wave, and all manner of interesting artists suddenly found, for the first time ever, the doors of showbiz swinging open for them. That musical era has much resonance in the twenty-first century, of course, so Lene's return to the fray is appropriate. Her vintage hits sound surprisingly contemporary, up against the new new wave.

First, however, we have our support bands. Edgy have a name that's a slight hostage to fortune, in that if you call yourself Edgy then surely you've got to be edgy. As it happens, Edgy are a straightforward pop-soul bunch. Three muso-geezers supply a robust kickabout, while an engaging and personable singer gives it the full Florence. What saves Edgy from edging into the dreaded pub rock zone is the quality of the band's songwriting: they actually have some rather nifty tunes lurking beneath their regular-guys-plus-girl musical conventionality. Not as edgy as their name, then. But, in an amiable, toe-tapping kind of way, not bad, either.

Edgy / The Devices

The Devices are a two-piece guitar 'n' drums combo - a fairly familiar line-up in these post-White Stripes times, of course. Everybody's binning the bass. The two Devices apparently go by the names of Valkrie and Attilla, which makes the band sound like some sort of Scandinavian black metal outfit. But they're obviously just messing with our minds here, because The Devices are, in fact, more of an assertive, spiky, powerpop thing.

The drummer, incongrous in his striped shirt-front, like a celebrity chef on his night off, slams into the drums as if they've done something to annoy him; the singer, a Cerys Matthews on overdrive, all wild hair and gimlet eyes, unleashes a vocal hurricane while slashing at her guitar. The Devices are all tempestuous rhythm: hurtling and forceful, almost daring you to stand in their way. Their set zooms by with the velocity and clamour of an express train powering through a country station.

Lene LovichAnd now, Lene Lovich herself - tonight with a new, full band and an equally full bag of quirky classics.

Decked out in an outfit that seems to be equal parts feathers and tablecloths (a style that few apart from Lene Lovich could wear, and only Lene Lovich could imbue with cool), she's sparky and engaging, wide-eyed and mischievous, bobbing and weaving at the mic stand, acting out her lyrics with a range of goofily exaggerated facial expressions that run all the way from mock-severe to downright dotty. She's a sketch in herself, and a reminder, if we needed it, of how welcoming the after-punk landscape was to unconventionality.

But there are also the songs, of course, those avant-pop anthems, wih their garagey keyboard lines, choppy guitar, and here-and-there rhythms. There's a glorious oddness to Lene Lovich's music, as if she's tried to assemble pop songs without the instruction leaflet, and ended up with music that hangs together without anyone quite knowing how or why.

'Momentary Breakdown' has its bittersweet emotional tug present and correct; 'Bird Song' is still endearingly bonkers. 'Say When' rattles along at a fearsome pace, the band all over the song like the crew of a speedboat. 'The Wicked Witch' crops up, an entire Christmas panto encapsulated in a pop song, and a rare intrusion of new(ish) material in a set that is otherwise heavily biased towards the oldies. You can see the 80s heads in the crowd exchanging puzzled glances - they don't remember this one from Top Of The Pops.

Everyone, however, remembers 'Lucky Number' from Top Of The Pops. Possibly the most deliciously weird hit single ever, it's still got all its off-kilter charm, rolling along like a home-made go-cart with a slightly wonky wheel that nevertheless manages to win the race.

But it's 'Home', tonight as ever at Lene's gigs in recent years, the big finish, that makes its presence felt. A genuine emotional barnstormer, the band pitch in with guts and gusto, the audience joins in the chorus, and Lene, flapping and gyrating in the centre of everything, brings it all back home.

Nuts to commercial imperatives as a reason to tour, that's what I say. There's a lot to be said for just going out and doing it. One day, everyone will be doing it the Lene Lovich way.

Lene Lovich

Lene Lovich:

Website | Facebook

The Devices:

Website | Facebook


Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Lene Lovich by name here.

Search Nemesis To Go
Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.
Creative Commons LicenseWords and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.