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The VoyeuristRobots In Disguise
The Voyeurist
The Lexington, London
Friday February 10 2012

 

 

Not for the first time, I'm all confused.

I'm sure I've seen tonight's opening band, The Voyeurist, before. And yet I know I've never seen them before. What, as the kids probably said in the 60s, gives?

I think the reason for my befuddlement is that The Voyeurist are a two-piece girl-on-electronix-and-vocals, boy-on-guitar deal - exactly the same line-up as Severin, another girl/boy duo I caught recently. The Voyeurist even stand in the same places: girl stage left, boy stage right.

They even make a rather similar indie-electro racket - fractured and fuzzy, but without any killer songs that lodge in your brain.

That racket isn't bad. As fan of all things fuzzy and fractured, I have no quibble with that aspect of their art. But the band don't have anything about them that says, 'This could only be The Voyeurist'. A little work on the recognition factor is needed, I reckon. Maybe they could start by standing in different spots on stage.

You know, without a shadow of a doubt, when Robots In Disguise are in the room. They're almost cartoon characters, looking like a bunch of Borrowers in their surrealist big-button outfits. Here they go, slapping down their staccato groove, all sparse, snappy drumbeats and growling, prowling basslines. The two principal Robots - Dee Plume, vocals and guitar, Sue Denim, vocals and bass - strut their stuff like Devo's daughters, throwing comedy voguing moves as they generate their infectiously herky-jerky sonics.

Robots In DisguiseBut here's the thing: Robots In Disguise on stage are distinctly different from Robots In Disguise on record.

Their albums portray the band as a kind of novelty art-bubblegum outfit, all shrieky vocals and fizzing beats, as if the RiD staple diet was a combination of sherbert and helium.

Live, however, it all gets heavier.

I'm not sure if that's a deliberate difference, or whether tonight's sound engineer has simply taken it upon himself to whack up the bottom end. Either way, I like the resulting racket - tougher, meaner, like a wrong-side-of-the-tracks New Young Pony Club, spoiling for a fight.

But the Robots are only play-fighting, of course. For all their down 'n' dirty bumping and grinding, Robots In Disguise are here to have fun. 'Turn It Up' is a singalong romp, with Dee Plume and Sue Denim doing the back-to-back Satus Quo muso thing for extra larfs. 'Lady And The Flies' sees some fans invited to invade the stage, while 'La Nuit' is a riot of choppy guitar and popcorn bass, beaty and bouncy like a colouring book version of Delta Five.

I wish Robots In Disguise would get some of this stuff down on record: capture the gleeful grit of their live incarnation. As it is, there's the new album, Happiness v. Sadness, which might not quite do the job - the bits I've heard have been biased towards the band's customary hyperactive poppiness. But tonight's thumping rhythm-fest shows just how good those Robots can be when they get their bump 'n' grind on.

 

Robots In Disguise: Website | MySpace | Facebook

The Voyeurist: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Robots In Disguise by name here.

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