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Viktoria Modesta
The Actionettes
The Lottery Winners

Proud Camden, London
Sunday October 30 2013 

Cheery and bouncy in front of Proud's wall of alleged art photos, The Lottery Winners are an amiable bunch of indie types with a nice line in disarming between-song banter and a set stuffed with lively guitar-pop.

They sound like the kind of band I used to see around Camden in the 90s - when, it seemed, every support act down the Falcon had a wannabe Johnny Marr on guitar and a jovial Jimbob (and/or Fruitbat) up front. If this were 1991, they'd be a shoo-in for a spot on Steve Lamacq's Evening Session, going out at homework time on Radio One.

The Lottery Winners
Unpretentious and relentlessly upbeat, The Lottery Winners (they even have a relentlessly upbeat name) are well placed for success if the indie revival ever happens. But the Falcon has been derelict for years, and Steve Lamacq is on Radio Two these days. I like the band's kids-next-door boisterousness, but I can't help feeling that cheery indie has had its chance.

And now, the floorshow.
The Actionettes are a dance troupe who specialise in formation routines to the hits-o-yesteryear. Well-drilled and colourful, they're a neat alternative to the usual gig fare of bands, bands, bands.
The Actionettes
Oddly, perhaps - because none of the Actionettes take their clothes off - I'm reminded of the trend a few years back for burlesque dancers to appear between bands at gigs. A short-lived phenomenon, as it turned out, and I'm not even sure if it ever happened outside London. But it was fun while it lasted.

I suspect the Actionettes are not the speahead of a similar trend - after all, there are probably relatively few dance troupes around, and not many gig venues with enough floor space for formation dance action. But a different take on the usual routine of a gig is always welcome. Up the Actionettes, that's what I say.

It strikes me that every time I've seen Viktoria Modesta she's been on a diffferent musical tangent. She's gone from the early-Human League electro of her first gigs, to her later incarnation as a Shirley Bassey-ish diva - every song a potential Bond theme. And now here's her latest venture: a collaboration with Adasmski (you know, Adamski: Seal, 'Killer', all that stuff), and a whole new genre which goes by the name of 3-Step. Or, as we used to call it, waltz.

The idea of chucking out the four-beats-to-a-bar hegemony of rock 'n' roll and nailing everything to a strict three-beat tempo isn't in itself hugely radical - after all, music in waltz time has been around at least since the 1700s. But in the context of modern pop music it counts as a step (or perhaps three steps) into the left field.

At any rate, as Viktoria ModestaAdamski cranks the tunes from his laptop, and Viktoria Modesta swoops and glides and gives us a new wave soul diva vocal, the overall flavour is of something strangely, subtly, different nudging its way into view.

Some of the ingredients in the mix might be familiar in themselves - Adamski is certainly making withdrawals from his musical account at the Bank Of The Eighties - but the sound, structured as it is around three beats, rather than four, has its own counter-intuitive groove, even as it kicks a certain retro-electro feel around the room.

Viktoria encourages the crowd to dance (and gets a splendid show of reluctance in return), but there's a groove happening on stage now, and it's sounding good. There's a face-off with a suited 'n' booted rapper - I don't catch his name, and he's not mentioned anywhere on the web, not even on Viktoria Modesta or Adamski's own Facebook pages - but his sudden presence ups the energy quotient of the show. And it's not often you get to hear a rap laid down over a three beat rhythm.
Viktoria Modesta
Adamski emerges from behind his laptop desk to show us his trousers - a veritable highlight of the evening, obviously - and then it's a canter to the finish with a chopped-up, sampled and reassembled take on The Stranglers' 'Golden Brown' - which is, of course, one of only a handful of songs to bring waltz time into a rock context.

Viktoria and Adamski were practically obliged to acknowledge it, I suppose, but they take the song apart and put it back together as something of their own.

So, it seems Viktoria Modesta is off on another musical tangent, this time with Adamski at the controls. It'll be interesting to see where it all goes next.

There's a slight sense of work in progress tonight, a feeling that the 3-step concept hasn't quite resulted in three steps to heaven just yet. But it works pretty well as three steps to Camden.


Viktoria Modesta: Website | Facebook

The Actionettes: Website | Facebook

The Lottery Winners: Website | Facebook

For more photos from this gig, find Viktoria Modesta by name here.

Page credits: Words, photos and construction by Michael Johnson. Nemesis logo by Antony Johnston. Red N version by Mark Rimmell.

Words and photos in Nemesis To Go by Michael Johnson are licenced under Creative Commons. You may copy and distribute this material, or derivations of it, provided that you give a credit to Michael Johnson and a link to Nemesis To Go. Where material from other sources is used, copyright remains with the original owners. All rights in the name 'Nemesis To Go' and the 'N' logo are retained.