It’s Halloween. In Camden. Like the alternative youth of London needed an excuse to dress bat shit mental, now they actually have one. From some God awful slutty Black Swans to the embarrassing hipsters accidentally dressing like Bane with their vintage fur coats and Lucky Strike wheezing mumbled voices, tonight the Electric Ballroom is a dystopia of sloppy dressed-up cretins - and it’s beautiful. A Halloween show by Eighties Matchbox couldn’t be more fitting, as back in their heyday they were almost gothic comical in their appearance, long before The Horrors offered their art punk shenanigans through ‘Strange House’. And how times haven’t changed, the band appear on stage like some Rocky Horror Picture Show extras, feathered hats, funny haircuts and all.
One of the main concerns tonight is whether Guy McKnight’s vocals - which no one could argue, is the essence of the band - can still be upheld. But from the offset his smooth switch from baritone-esque creepiness to shrieking banshee is as flawless as their records.
Fan favorite and Nike advert soundtracking ‘Chicken’ is played surprisingly early in the set, reminding us that this cult band have a lot more tunes up their sleeves than the odd single. Lesser known works such as the eerily fitting ‘Puppy Dog Snails’ echoes around the sold-out venue – “What do we do with a boy like you/we put them in a pot and we throw them on the fire.”
However, some worries about the vocals do arise later, as ‘Rise of the Eagles’ looks knackering for Guy who has to take slight pauses from singing in his unnaturally abyss-deep voice, opting instead for staring manically into the crowd and then jumping into them. This isn’t a problem for anyone (except Guy, who’s very upset about losing a shoe), the theatrics of the performance live up to the expectations people had created for the group who hadn’t seen them circa ‘Horse of the Dog’, but who had spent their dinner money on their singles in Woolworths (yeah, they made number forty with ‘Eagles’). After this short stop/starter, they then slash into ‘Psychosis Safari’, which sees Guy retain some of his voice through the perfect a cappella breakdown.
Tonight is not nostalgia in a sense, as it hasn’t been that long, and they burned out before they were really ever fully lit. This seems more like a continuation of unfinished business. And with gigs for 2013 being announced now, it looks like this business won’t be finished for sometime.
Words by Jamie Carson