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Evans The DeathThe Primitives
The Tender Trap
Evans The Death

The Garage, London
Thursday March 24 2011

 

 

 

Indie kids of a certain age are out in force tonight. The Garage is rammed with portly blokes who have left their skinny teens a long way behind them. They're here to tap into that late 80s - early 90s indie zeitgest, to relive those golden memories of doing their homework to the happening sounds of Janice Long's Evening Session on BBC Radio One, circa 1987.

The Primitives, one of the key bands from that era, arguably one of the bands that defined the sound of indie music, are back in action - and with new material in the works, too, so tonight isn't simply a nostalgia fest. Not that you'd be able to convince most of this audience on that point, I suspect. The past casts its golden glow over most of tonight's crowd.

The past has a lot to do with the sound and style of Evans The Death, our first band tonight. They bring a sudden burst of authenticity to the proceedings, for they actually are skinny teens - or, at least, skinny twentysomethings. Bona-fide indie kids of the twenty-first century, they've got the winsomely jingle-jangle sound of the indie era impressively nailed, and a bashful, slightly flustered stage demeanour to go with it.

Within those parameters, they're not actually bad, although they evidently haven't yet come up with the insistently catchy pop anthems which were always an essential ingredient of the indie mix. Their most memorable song is based around the borrowed bump 'n' shuffle of a Bo Diddley riff. It's called 'Bo Diddley'. Personally, I'd like to hear a bit more of Evans The Death themselves in the music, but I think the band are still looking for that mysterious identity stuff.

The Tender TrapWith assorted ex-members of Heavenly and Talulah Gosh on board, The Tender Trap can claim a lineage that goes right back to the days of C86 - that point in the mid-80s when, some would say, indie as we know it was kicked off by the NME's C86 cassette compilation, a release that now more or less counts as indie's Dead Sea Scrolls.

As we might expect from their ancestry, The Tender Trap are indeed brisk, bright and appealing, while still managing to be ever so slightly gauche. But they depart from the blueprint of jangly charm in the rhythm department. They have a stand-up drummer whose minimalist thump and crack gives the band a rough-edged, garage-punk feel, even though in other respects their songs are as indie as all get-out. The band specialises in engaging pop ditties, sung by two female voices whose interplay adds a summery, skipping-through-the-meadows counterpoint to the no-shit rumble of the rhythm department. Tendenessr set off by a certain lurking, hinted-at toughness. It's a combination that works rather well.

The Primitives appear to have stepped out of the pages of a vintage NME photo spread like the last fifteen-odd years never happened. Paul Court, on guitar, looks like every indie teen's older brother, while vocalist Tracy Tracy is a glam indie auntie, all sequins and diamante and impeccably arched eyebrows. She's good-humoured but very self-contained - there are no showbiz shout-outs to the crowd, no rock star grandstanding. In fact, she says very little between the songs, mostly contenting herself with a smile and a quizzical glance at the audience, as if to say, "You liked that one, didn't you?"

The PrimitivesThe audience certainly did like that one. The audience likes every one. The band roll out a veritable greatest hits compilation, every song as nimble and energetic as if they were written yesterday.

A couple of the songs actually were written yesterday, relatively speaking: the band drops two newies, 'Never Kill A Secret' and 'Rattle My Cage', which fit seamlessly with the oldies. Wisely, it seems The Primitives have realised that their songwriting technique was never broke, so they ain't gonna make the mistake of fixing it.

And indeed it's hard to argue with the chime and buzz of the guitar, the snap and rattle of the drums, and Tracy Tracy's casually offhand vocals on such lithe and vivacious songs as 'Stop Killing Me', 'Really Stupid', and 'Everything's Shining Bright' - a classic indie song title there, by the way.

But, of course, it's 'Crash' - the band's biggest hit by some distance - that really kicks off the mosh. As Tracy Tracy nonchalantly saunters about the stage, tambourine in hand, delivering the lyric with sparky composure, the portly blokes down the front give it loads, like it's their first year at uni and they're attending the fresher's ball. It's an endearing - if rather surreal - sight, but it does rather beg the big question.

Can The Primitives find a new, younger - and, whisper it soft, perhaps less portly - audience, or are they fated to remain a nostalgia trip for the class of '87? The answer to that one is probably wrapped up in all sorts of meda 'n' marketing considerations. But if all that can be sorted, there must be a decent chance for The Primitives in the here and now, for the band themselves are as fresh and as immediate as ever.

Hooray for indie kids, is what I say - of all ages.

 

The Primitives: Website | MySpace | Facebook

The Tender Trap: Website | MySpace | Facebook

Evans The Death: MySpace | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find The Primitives by name here.

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