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The Violets
The HedronsThe Hedrons

Metro Club, London
Wednesday January 24 2007

Camera lenses loom from the crowd. I see two people busily scribbling on notepads. Know what this means? The music meeeeja is about to discover The Hedrons. Down from Glasgow, kicking their riot grrl glam punk thing around like the long-lost little sisters of the New York Dolls, The Headrons are lucky enough (or canny enough) to be making exactly the kind of music that the media has decided is currently cool. Being an all-girl band ain't going to hurt their chances, either. Let's face it, even in these enlightened times, any band which can play the kewl chyxx card will inevitably get more attention from the big bad music biz than an equivalent combo that's just a bunch of blokes.

But all cynicism aside, The Hedrons do the business. They're brash and colourful and loud, and the vocalist has a gritty, bluesy wail that pitches up somewhere between Patti Smith and Polystyrene. She hurls herself around the stage in a rock 'n' roll frenzy, vanishes into the crowd on the end of an unfeasibly long microphone lead, and next minute she's climbed over the bar and is raiding the Jack Danels, while the barman stands stoically by wearing his best 'seen it all before' expression. In a way, the barman's got it right, for The Hedrons aren't doing anything that (at least) three generations of glam-punkers haven't done before. But you can't argue with that racket. Good old punk rock wins every time.

RosemaryWhat was I saying about bands which can play the kewl chyxx card getting all the attention? My theory is borne out now as Rosemary take the stage. In spite of their girlie name, Rosemary are three none-more-indie chaps, self-effacing and dressed down in the approved manner. The photographers and the note-pad scribblers in the audience instantly retreat to the bar. Fortunately, Rosemary have a healthy crowd of their own fans, and a tense, clangourous sound, all rhythms and nerves, as if they'd filtered early Talking Heads through a Brit-indie sieve.

Swapping vocals back and forth between guitarist and bassist (both of whom employ a just-this-side-of-agonised wail), and driving everything along on the plangent sounds of a boldy-struck Hohner semi-acoustic, in many ways Rosmary deliver a timeless indie experience. In truth, this is not the kind of stuff which excites me overmuch, although I'd probably turn up the radio a bit if a Rosemary song came on XFM. But it's oddly comforting to know that there are bands out there still doing that quintessential indiepop thing. Indie guitars are a-jangling, and all's well with the world.

The VioletsLast time I reviewed The Violets, I spent quite a few words discussing, in terms of thoughtful erudition, the differences their new bassist had made to the band's sound. Well, so much for my erudite discussions. Tonight The Violets are back to their three-piece line-up: guitar, drums, vocals. I have no idea where the bassist went (although I'm told the band have a nice new patio round the back of their house) but the drums and guitar shoulder their way forward, taking advantage of the gaps in the sound to mix it up like boxers sparring for dominance of the ring. The rhythm collisions and guitar crashes hint at the basslines by playing around the spaces where, in a more conventional line-up, the bottom-end thumping would be.

That was always one of my favourite things about The Violets: the band's ability to make you think you were hearing basslines where none actually existed. Much as I dug the four-piece line-up, it's good to hear that cut-glass, breaking-glass, fingernails-on-glass sound which The Violets somehow effortlessly generate from their minimal instrumentation erupting once more in full effect.

Vocalist Alix stalks the stage, casting appraising glances at the crowd as if she's looking straight through everybody's heads into their DNA, while the band taunt the forces of chaos with their taut, contolled, metal postcard noise. Effects pedals become instruments; entire songs are distilled down to reverb and rhythm. It is, of course, an incandescent racket, and half an hour zaps past like half a minute. Not only can The Violets warp the very fabric of sonic space, they can compress time, too. The set abruptly wraps up without ceremony - a very Violet-esque thing to do, that. They just stop everything without so much as a 'Thank You, goodnight!' Pow, pow, that's that. Brusque and brilliant.

Essential links:

The Violets: Website | MySpace
Rosemary: Website | MySpace
The Hedrons: Website | MySpace

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

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  Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson.
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