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Partly Faithful - flyerPartly Faithful
Healthy Junkies
Clockwork Era

Underbelly, London
Sunday April 22 2012


It's all about context, innit.

If you took Clockwork Era, with their shouty-bashy bedroom-punk sound, and dropped them into the middle of the Rebellion Festival, they wouldn't rate a raised eyebrow. The punk scene is full of shouty-bashy bands, and Clockwork Era, with their slashed-out guitar chords and tetchy holler of a vocal, would simply end up as one of the crowd.

But here in the post-punk scene, where all is arch and artful and glam and studiously cool, Clockwork Era's self-consciously basic minimalism stands out. They're picking up interest and - judging by the keen crowd in front of them tonight - picking up fans, too.

The band batter and holler through their set of bare-bones punker anthems, and this non-punk audience gives every indication of digging it. I can't find it in me to be too impressed, though. I think I've seen too many shouty-bashy punk bands in my time to be knocked out by any more of this stuff. The fact that Clockwork Era are doing it outside the punk scene, rather than within, is a mildly intriguing spin. But it's not enough to make 'em interesting.

Healthy JunkiesHealthy Junkies are also at home to a bit of the old punk rock spirit, but they are interesting. They take their punk influence a lot further than crash-and-bash. There's a certain perky glam about the band, too, and a pop sensibility which keeps everything catchy and acesssible even when the guitar gets crunchy.

And, indeed, the guitar does get crunchy. Healthy Junkies songs are spunky, choppy, chunks of rock 'n' roll energy, with vocalist Nina fronting the band's backstreet glam racket with good humoured charm and a pair of purple Doc Martens.

'Manifesto' is the band's new, naggingly catchy, hit in the making: a slice of alternopop that pitches up somewhere between Penetration and Transvision Vamp. Healthy Junkies join the dots between punk, glam and pop with a cheerfully gritty charm.

What was I saying about the post-punk being all arch and artful and glam and studiously cool? The Partly Faithful have deliberately triangulated themselves (or perhaps that should be pentagulated themselves) between all five of those key points.

You can pick out their influences like croutons in soup: the Peter Hook throb of the bass, the Steven Morris spatter of the drums, that shimmering, shuddering, Daniel Ash-esque guitar sound - played by Gemma Thompson, who, interestingly enough, shimmers and shudders in a very similar way in her other band, Savages. Watch those influences go viral, kids.

But it's vocalist Ed Banshee who ultimately defines the Partly Faithful's art-glam territory. He throws dramatic shapes at the very edge of the stage (and occasionally over the edge of the stage), swooping and gesticulating at the audience like Abbo from UK Decay at his most assertive, while the convulsive, pounding melodramas of the music swirl around him.

If all this makes it sound like the Partly Faithful have distilled first wave post-punk down to a double concentrated shot of musical espresso - well, to a certain extent, they've done just that. We've seen plenty of bands on the twenty-first century post-punk scene toy with such influences, of course: in fact it's practically a condition of admission to have a few, and you can ask The Horrors all about that. But The Partly Faithful squeeze out the juice with a gimlet-eyed conviction and a sense of the dramatic that's all their own.

'Needles' is all squalling guitar and anguished, accusatory vocals; 'The Worm Within' circles like DNA spirals. 'So Happy' sidles in like a thief, but builds into equal parts withering disdain and six-string sustain, pushing everything to a climax - and that's how the set ends. There's an encore on the list - the deconstructivist 'Your Song' - but something's up with the guitar amp and it all stops right there. Still, we got that shot of musical espresso down our necks, and a dark and strong brew it turned out to be.

Partly Faithful

Partly Faithful: Website | Facebook

Healthy Junkies: Website | Facebook

Clockwork Era: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

Find a Partly Faithful EP review here.

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