Clash Saturday Social - February 2009

Micachu headline free-entry Clash event...
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The club is, predictably, rammed from front to back. There can’t be that many more shows of this intimate nature that Micachu And The Shapes will call at.

The leftfield-pop trio – who dismantle the everyday sounds of a radio near you and reconnect the dots to create most intriguing new forms – headline the second Clash Saturday Social of the year, attracting a throng that almost fills the Notting Hill Arts Club to capacity. And those that arrive early are kept entertained ‘til the main event by a support bill that features acts with a lot of promise on offer, touching upon bases classical and caustic, raw and romantic.

First up are London outfit Left With Pictures, whose violin-guided offerings combine folk sensibilities with an honest heart that connects with all in the room; genuinely universal themes filtered through a sound that’s as pop as it gets when it comes to instant gratification, but also soaked in the woozy melancholy of the finest Arcade Fire. As they step from the stage to play entirely acoustic in the middle of the room, a hush of real reverence descends, and unanimous respect is followed by the sort of applause (and encore requests) regularly reserved for a headline act.

Favours For Sailors are one of the most fun live bands on the circuit – see them soon with Dananananaykroyd – and their set of punchy pop-infused indie goes down a storm with the beer-swigging sorts out for a sing-along. Lifting material from their new EP ‘Furious Sons’ (REVIEW), their mix of accessible melodies and mightily rocking percussive elements gets not just toes tapping, but feet bouncing in earnest. Okay, so nobody’s literally moshing – but in our minds we’re sweating ourselves silly to this Cribs-meets-Weezer brilliance.

The jovial mood in the room continues as duo The Old Romantic Killer Band bring their brand of southern-fried rock ‘n’ soul to the stage, asking all in attendance if they’re fans of the blues. The answer is a resounding yes, and the two-piece proceed to deliver licks akin to The Black Keys dirtying themselves up with a little DFA1979. Taking tracks from their ‘The Swan With Two Necks’ debut (REVIEW), they balance the truly boisterous with understated arrangements expressing the woes of the broken hearted. At times it’s superbly powerful; the only criticism being that, at times, they’re more like a group out of Alabama than one from Britain. Still, that voice… how nobody’s thrown any knickers is beyond me.

Micachu have already enjoyed words of praise aplenty across both Clash’s magazine and website, and now the promise they’ve been showing is paying off. With a great debut album in the can – ‘Jewellery’ is released on Rough Trade on March 9 – the trio’s confidence is running as high as it ever has, and come their jaunt to Texas for SXSW later this month all cylinders are sure to be firing at top form.

The joy of the band lies in their penetrable experimentation – no song is a straight-forward ditty a la what you might hear on any daytime station, but possesses an accessibility most middle-of-the-road sorts can only dream of achieving. The reason: these musicians are geniuses, and Mica Levi leads from the front with a composure and commendably cocksure attitude that’s beyond her years. As she wraps her Elvis-like curled lips around offerings like ‘Golden Phone’ and ‘Guts’, all are entranced; her pop is one that’s hypnotic, engrossing ‘til all else that’s come before is, temporarily, forgotten. Clattering percussion from unexpected instruments – tin cans and sticks, it seems, are pretty cutting edge right now – and great melding of electro tones with organic guitar produces a whole that’s decidedly left-of-centre, but as warm and friendly as it is peculiarly alien.

For the second time this afternoon a band closes to demands for more; again, the acclaimed individuals leave their audience wanting more. And rightly so – if you’ve so much to give, spread the love a little. Such is the spark of playful ambition within the music of Micachu, one suspects they’ll be revealing weird and wonderful music to adore for some time to come.

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The Clash Saturday Social is held once a month at the weekly RoTa afternoon at Notting Hill Arts Club, London W11. The next event is March 28, 4pm-8pm, and features It Hugs Back plus support. Entry is free, over-18s only.

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