Upstairs At The Garage, London
Thursday November 21 2013
Introverts. Not exactly a name that says "Party!"
Sure enough, Introverts aren't in the business of giving us extravagant rock action. They're a self-effacing, just-stand-there bunch, picking their way carefully through a set of meticulously constructed new wavey, shoegazey, songs that contrive to make all the right noises but never quite stick in the memory.
The vocalist, bejumpered and moustachioed as if he's opened the style book at Casual David Niven, cuts a slightly incongruous figure, but he's the nearest thing Introverts have to a focal point. They're not a bad band, but they're curiously inconclusive.
Desperate Journalist immediately seem hungrier,
edgier, a band in the business of pushing forward in a flurry of guitar
and crisp, clattery drums. They've located their noise-coordinates at
the point where swooping, swooning indie meets the post-punk twilight
- a somewhat fuzzy area, perhaps, but there's got to be a bit of mileage
in being a band that goths and indie kids alike can dance to.
It's pretty much the zone inhabited by The Cure, of course: I'm sure Desperate Journalist's name (obscure Cure reference ahoy) wasn't chosen by accident. They're putting down a marker.
What Desperate Journalist are also putting down
right now is a punchy, swirling mass of noise - and it's no bad thing
to be able to punch and swirl at the same time. The racket is hauled
along by Jo Bevan's vocals, assertive and clamourous, vowels stretched
like elastic. It's a vocal style which, perish the thought, would lend
itself well to Pat Benetar-style AOR power ballads - and, occasionally,
when Desperate Journalist row back on the post-punkisms and essay an
anthem, you can almost hear the band edging in that dread direction.
There's a fine line between good singing and over singing -
let's keep it a bit Howard Devoto, eh, kids?
Ed, frontman of the of Partly Faithful knows all about keeping it Howard Devoto. He's a vocalist rather than a singer, and his angsty declamations are more of a rhythmic element in the band's commotion, rather than anything conventionally melodic.
That's the Partly Faithful's modus operandi: a spare rattle of drums, some clanking Gang Of Four bass, and a sweep of Lee Ranaldo guitar, sounding like it's being painted on with a compressed air sprayer, reacting with the undercoat as the top layer goes down.
The vocals stalk and stomp
over the slam and seethe while Ed looms over the monitors -
an object lesson, as it happens, in creating exactly the focal point that
we didn't get earlier, with Introverts. The overall effect is all sharp-cornered
drama, from the carp 'n' gripe of 'Hatchet' to the angular angstathon of
The band's most accessible song, 'Underset', is conspiculous by its absence, and if that means there's a slight lack of light and shade - it's all shade, shade, shade tonight - you can't beat the intensity.
Terminal Gods seem to be on a somewhat improbable transition from Sisters-ish goth scenesters to the new torchbearers for all-purpose scuzzy old rock 'n' roll.
At any rate, the London goth scene crowd has failed to show tonight in any appreciable quantities, but instead there's a healthy contingent of non-scenesters in the house, all eager to get their leather jackets scuffed up in the cause of thunderous rocknoize.
It's actually quite impressive to witness the crush of eager young rockers down the front, and I wonder if Terminal Gods have benefited by Ulterior's mysterious absence from the gig circuit over recent months. After all, if you fancy some heavy leather machine beat, in the absence of Ulterior, who you gonna call?
Here they go, then, giving it the full archetypal rock 'n' roll monty at 130 machine beats per minute.
Once you've got over the presence of the drum machine - the one thing about Terminal Gods that isn't archetypal rock 'n' roll - it must be said that this is not a band in the business of ripping up the artistic envelope.
They're a one-band cocktail of 30 years' worth of rock influences, shaken up, stirred around, garnished with Andrew Eldritch shades and Lemmy moustaches, and shoved out on stage to do the business.
If you're prepared to accept that what Terminal Gods do is essentially a rearrangement of some familiar furniture, then it works surprisingly well. 'Lessons In Fire' might be a fairly straightforward exercise in Merry Thoughts-ish goth rock on record, but it grows its own pair of balls tonight, while the cheesily gonzoid 'Red Light Love' actually makes a kind of nightmare sense at ninety-odd decibels.
To wrap up, Terminal Gods wallop out a sledgehammer treatment of the Undertones' 'Teenage Kicks' - an unusual choice of cover, in that you'd expect them to go for 'Doctor Jeep', or somesuch example of Eldritchian goth-goes-rock. But maybe that's the point. Terminal Gods might be the sum of their influences, but they're casting the net a bit more widely than you'd expect.
For more photos from this gig, find Terminal Gods and Partly Faithful by name here.