Nome & The Natives
Friday July 28 2013
The Unstoppable Achievers have some interesting previous.
If you were
putting them on a flyer, you could have 'featuring Matthew Saw of Sex Gang
Children and Selfish Cunt' in brackets after their name. That should haul
in a few curious souls.
I don't know if anyone's made any flyers for tonight's gig, but at any rate there are a few curious souls down the front to see the Unstoppable Achievers wail and pummel their way through a selection of whimsical quirk-wave torch songs, all querulous vocals and skidding sheets of guitar.
There are only two achievers: Matthew Saw (of Sex Gang, etc, etc) on guitar and vocals, and a taciturn colleague behind a stripped-down drum set, taking care of the pounding. But they make an intriguingly fractious racket, in a minimalist Buzzcocks fronted by Kenneth Williams kind of way.
The Condors are youthful, fresh-faced, and there seem to be bloody hundreds of them.
They crowd onto the stage in a shifting mass of High Street casualwear and sensible hairstyles, and proceed to play an all-purpose variety of neo-Coldplay, not-quite-Keane middle-of-the-road indie, which is as earnest as it is forgettable.
they're decent enough musos: every note is so meticulously crafted it's
almost painful. But there are no surprises, no sense that a maverick inspiration
is at work.
It's like watching a school project playing at morning assembly. Better than pretending to sing hymns, but ultimately Condors simply demonstrate how conscientiously they've done their homework.
I have no idea how you're supposed to pronounce Nome (as Tony? Or as in garden?), but I assume that's her, centre stage, on double-stacked keyboards and towering power-ballad vocals. The Natives, neat and self-effacing in the approved backing musician style, keep their heads down and concentrate on the serious business of creating wide-screen enormodome AOR in the decidedly narrow-screen environment of the Underbelly.
That does seem to be the territory we're in here:
big, blustering songs, all cod-drama and Billboard-Hot-One-Hundred-here-we-come.
I don't think the band actually do cover 'Crazy on You' by Heart, but their
own compositions come pretty close, in their wannabe-grandiosity and Nome's
self-consciously supersized singing.
As with Condors, it's all very well crafted stuff, but what's the point of craft when there is no art?
Fortunately, we're about to witness a band who do acknowledge that art rock is a thing, and punk actually happened.
Last time I saw the Partly Faithful at
they were launching
their debut EP, and had Gemma Thompson on guitar.
This time round, the band have an album out and Anouska Haze on guitar, Gemma having become a rock star with Savages in the meantime.
I suppose all parties can claim to have moved forward between then and now, although I'll leave it to others to calculate the relative distances.
The Anouska-driven version of the band is a mighty thing, her scudding gusts of guitar blowing through the songs like a gale through a tin shed. The bass clanks like approaching tanks, and vocalist Ed comes on like a manic preacher at Speaker's Corner, letting loose a high-tension harangue while the audience shifts uneasily, unsure whether they should get in the mosh or edge towards the exit.
Fans of the previous two bands look particularly shellshocked at the Partly Faithful's crash and clamour - even the accessible sway of 'Underset' is a monster in a spiky dog collar compared to the stuff we've heard earlier tonight. But the Partly Faithful hit the spot, like biting into a fresh lemon after drinking too much lemonade. More acid, less sugar. It's healthier that way.
On the way out it occurs to me that tonight was a bit like two completely different gigs that had been double-booked into the venue on the same night, and then forced to go ahead anyway.
There was the AOR show...and the interesting stuff.
In the end I think the gig left both sections of the audience
feeling a little short-changed, since nobody got a full evening of the stuff
they liked. I suspect the opposingly-styled bands probably didn't experience
any matey bonding sessions in the dressing room, either.
I suppose it's all due to good old British inefficiency - or, at least, a lack of awareness on the part of the venue's band booker that all rock music isn't the same. Next time, it would be nice to get the logistics right.
For more photos from this gig, find Partly Faithful by name here.