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R O M A N C E / The DogbonesR O M A N C E
The Dogbones
Purple Turtle, London
Friday December 14 2012 





Video kit is much in evidence in the old Purp tonight. Apparently this gig is being broadcast over the web to - we're told - 15,000 people.

That sounds pretty impressive, although in the venue the numbers aren't so huge. In fact, many of the regular faces which I'd usually expect to see at Dogbones or Romance gigs don't seem to be here.

Maybe they're at home, watching the show unfold on the web - which, if you ask me, illustrates the flaw in the plan. Webcasting the gig gives everyone a wonderful reason not to turn up and catch the bands live.

Take the word of an ex-promoter: it's difficult enough to get a decent crowd in to a gig at the best of times. No sensible promoter should be gifting Johnny Punter a reason to stay at home.

Still, those of us who prefer real life to virtual life are about to get a Dogbones performance in our faces, and that's got to be good. Here they come with their louche lope, their ripped-up glam-slam, their unashamed punk rock racket - which is, as ever, firmly strapped to an insousciant poptasticness.

While The Dogbones might represent thrift shop glam-punk in all its frayed-at-the-edges glory, there's plenty of good old pop songwriting skill in there, too - hooks, choruses, all that stuff that makes the essential difference between a band that's simply got the sound, and a band that's got the songs.

The DogbonesNaturally, it's all shoved out at us with an attitude-laden shuck and jive. Vocalist Nomi Leonard brandishes a stick of celery - the most rock 'n' roll of all vegtables - and vamps it up like a rag doll diva, while guitarist Johnny Orion gives it more showboating than a cruise on the Mississippi.

Some might suspect The Dogbones of flamming things up a bit more than usual tonight, for the benefit of the cameras. Not so. They're always this kind of riot. Which, of course, is why we love 'em.

Last time we encountered
R O M A N C E, the band was teetering on the cusp of two identities - between their earlier east end post-punk incarnation, and a new musical persona as a full-on rawk outfit.

Not an easy line to walk - so maybe it's no surprise to find the band no longer walk it. Now, R O M A N C E have come down decisively on the rock side of the line.

Perhaps not incidentally, the line-up has almost entirely changed, too. The old band has gone: now, frontman Jamie Lovatt fronts three purposeful rock guys who have evidently been putting in the study hours at the Keith Richards School Of Rock Sidemen. Jamie himself, meanwhile, seems to have snagged an honours degree at the University of Axl Rose.

Wearing the mutha of all bandannas, he's a one-man rock star frenzy, letting loose a frazzled wail of a vocal and giving it some headbangin' rock-out action between every line.

R O M A N C EIt's a bit disconcerting to see him so totally consumed by this stadium-sized rock god identity - I mean, sure, he always did like a bit of the old Mick Jagger swagger, but now he's coming across like a low rent Robert Plant.

The older songs have been given a good poking with a large rock stick - 'Who Do You Love?' is now an anthemic exercise in full-on rock-goddery, with Jaimie throwing himself about the stage, wielding a manic tambourine, as if posessed by the spirit of Led Zep at Madison Square Garden, 1973.

Just in case all this still doesn't get the message across, the last song of the set hammers the nail home. It's a cover of the Rolling Stones' 'It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (But I Like It), an encapsulation in one song of the revised R O M A N C E aesthetic. Trouble is, it makes R O M A N C E seem dangerously akin to a good-time bar band, chuggin' out vintage rock hits in an enthusiastic, but inevitably enconomy-sized, pastiche of the originals. Sure, it shows us where the band are coming from these days - but it also serves as a warning about what they might be getting into.

We were talking about fine lines above. Well, here's another one: the line between influence and parody. Careful which side of that one you come down on, guys. That's all I'm saying.

R O M A N C E: Website | Facebook

The Dogbones: Facebook

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

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