Red lights, black speaker stacks, and an unfeasibly large stage backdrop with the venue logo prominently displayed. Ah, yes, we must be in the Metro Club, that murky little basement under Oxford Street where all sorts of noises happen. The noises on stage right now are being generated by Leisur Hive. They're unexpectedly chopped down to a three-piece line-up, and they're unceremoniously rasping out some abrasive avant-rock. Vocalist Dan squirms and hunches, approaching the mic stand as if he's convinced it will suddenly come alive.
all as raw and uncompromising as we've come to expect from the Leisur
Hive noise machine, and as ever the band create the impression that
they're clinging on by their fingernails in the face of an unspecified,
but looming, threat. By the end of the set you're left with the impression
that Leisur Hive have just won a battle against awesome, if undefined,
odds. That's the element that makes a Leisur Hive set such a strangely
compelling experience, I suppose. I hope they never slay their monster.
In a previous life, Nick Marsh was the vocalist with Flesh For Lulu. In this life, he's a bequiffed and big-collared lounge crooner with an acoustic guitar. I assume the general idea is to create some sort of Las Vegas supper club ambience crossed with a certain low life gangster bar atmosphere. Well, I don't know about the Vegas bit, but the Metro club certainly lends itself to a touch of low life-ism.
Trouble is, the songs themselves are a little too low key to make much
of an impact. Only one number, which seems to be a murder mystery sung
from the point of view of the corpse, cuts through: the rest drift past
in an amiable haze. Nick Marsh seems like a nice chap - he's ever ready
with a disarming grin and another smoothly easy-going strum-along song,
but I wait in vain for him to show some musical teeth. What he's doing
is nice, but as I frequently find myself remarking these days, nice
'The world has gone mad,' remarks Andi Sex Gang in matter of fact tones. 'But that's OK, because we're all mad anyway.' And with that, the show begins. Darting around the stage, a puckish figure in frightening face paint, Andi Sex Gang is part cabaret turn, part mischief-maker. He acts his way through his songs, illustrating every line with a new stance or a fresh gesture, never once throwing anything that could be mistaken for a rock 'n' roll shape. For although Andi Sex Gang's songs have a certain glam strut and stomp to them, and perhaps even a touch of Mott The Hoople-ish low-life London urchin romance, they owe as much to music hall and theatre than they do to rock 'n' roll.
Tonight there are a few new songs in the set, as you'd expect since the reason for this gig is to big up the new Andi Sex gang album, The Madman In The Basket. 'Odin Bites Me' opens the show with its unsettling list of isms - Communism, Fascism, Satanism, racisim, consumerism, even arseholism - the ills of the world summed up in semantics, every one delaimed by Andi with a certain disdainful relish. 'Nation Of Flies' is a loping, spooky poem, all rumbling bass and menacing guitar. But the set also ranges through Andi's extensive solo back catalogue, from 'Power Waits' to 'The Quick Gas Gang' - even his old Poison Girls cover. 'I've Done It All Before' crops up, a song Andi Sex Gang has certainly made his own now.
It's all a neat demonstration of a body of work that is sometimes overlooked in the old-school goth scene's rush to eulogise the Sex Gang Children material. Of course, the distinctions between Andi's two identities are somewhat blurred these days (whether it's the Sex Gang Children or Andi Sex Gang, you still get the same bunch of glam-punk musicians on stage), but this performance - half vaudeville stagger, half T-Rex swagger - is convincing enough to make you think the Metro club is some velvet-draped drinking den in old Berlin. When it's all over, to walk out of the venue and find Oxford Street waiting under the pink glare of thoroughly British street lighting comes as a slight, surreal, shock.
For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.