Madame Jojo's, London
Monday October 7 2013
Let's face it, Monday is not traditionally regarded
as the party end of the week.
But for the last few months in London The Duel have been challenging that notion, with a series of Monday night gigs featuring themselves and assorted friends and fellow conspirators. This Monday, we're down at Madame Jojo's with a reincarnated Andy Warhol as our host, Segs out of The Ruts doing his DJ stuff, and three bands on stage.
Well, make that two bands...and Gob$au$age. The Gobs aren't really a band. In fact, sometimes I wonder if the Gobs are even real, or if they're some sort of live-action whacko nightmare.
They come barrelling out in a blare of mutant techno, wrecked rock noise, tits and blackface and all-purpose belligerence. They're a crazily assembled collision of mess and noise and surrealist grotequerie, a Grand Guignol distillation of British popular culture - page three, footy hooligans, the Black And White Minstrel Show, gawd 'elp us - taken to illogical extremes, set to a disco beat, and paraded in our faces like a fairground mirror.
Whether or not the Gobs count as something shocking is a moot point, mind. We live in post-Plasmatics times. GG Allin is practically considered a classic rock artist these days (the likes of the Sex Pistols and Clash were assimilated long ago).
But I suppose that in itself is the concept - assuming there is a concept, and Gob$au$age aren't just in it for the laughs and the shouting, although I bet that's at least half of it. C'mon, kids. It's the twenty-first century. We might as well fuck shit up and have some fun.
The Featherz haul us back to more familiar territory. A punchy, energetic, glam-pop power trio, they're a riot of reference points - a brash Bolan, a lairy Lulu, a bootboy Bowie. They batter their way through a set of short, sharp, rock 'n' roll shocks, the vocals a punktastic caterwaul that recalls Suzi Quatro at her most shouty-crackers.
If all this makes The Featherz seem like a bit of a retro thing - well, yes, I do get the impression that they haven't hung a new calendar on the wall since about 1973. But they kick their seventies obsession around with plenty of twenty-first century punk rock spunk, and they're a lot more glam than Guida.
Just in case we still haven't sussed
out The Featherz territory, here comes their all-purpose anthem and statement
of intent, 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' - which contains
a blatant musical steal from Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs'. Possibly not the
greatest move: not because Dave might take umbrage, but because after
the band finish their set I find 'Diamond Dogs'
lingering in my memory - which not only isn't one of The
Featherz own songs, it's a song they didn't actually play.
I think The Featherz need to create on their own earworms, rather than nicking one someone else made earlier. I like the band's attitude, and they're certainly making the right kind of racket. But hooks are like library books: you can borrow other peoples', but it's better to write your own.
Previously, I've always seen The Duel in the context of the punk scene, which is where the band play most of their gigs. I've remarked in the past that the band has potential to grab fans from beyond the parameters of punk, and it's interesting that now the band are organising their own Monday nighters they've extended their reach into exactly that beyond-punk zone.
At any rate, The Duel seem entirely at home alongside The Featherz and Gob$au$age, kicking their own glammy, punky, new wavey rock 'n' roll around Madame Jojo's minimalist stage with unpretentious enormodome confidence.
The Duel are the complete package: their sound is tough but accessible, the band's image is streetwise but not contrived. They can even rock a keytar with a certain no-shit cool, and that's a rare skill these days. Tara Rez fronts the band like Debbie Harry's long-lost London cousin, handing the microphone to the front row so the fans can shout along, scooping the crowd up into The Duel's street-romantic universe.
Outside, it's all Soho neon and central London expense: in here, The Duel tell stories of the other London, of back alleys and broken hearts, and they sprinkle a little punky glitter over the concrete.
The Featherz: Facebook
For more photos from his gig, find the bands by name here.