British action in Amsterdam...
James Yuill

A lot of people don't know that on the 30th of April the Dutch hold a nationwide party to celebrate their Queen's birthday – it’s massive, completely insane and something that would just never work in England.

Another thing people are equally unaware of is the London Calling festival, three days showcasing the best British musical talent (and one American act) playing two stages at the world famous Paradiso. And it's Amsterdam – win, win, bloody win.

The warm-up night Clash set about covering opens with Leeds four-piece Pulled Apart By Horses, and the house erupts. People are jumping everywhere, orange (Holland's colour of choice for Queen's day) merging into to… well, more orange, creating a completely wonderful mess. Their raw, gritty sound inspires the switch-happy lighting tech to go, as someone says, "a bit bonkers". Suddenly everything turns very atmospheric and an almost tribal mentality manifests itself in the crowd. But then: stop. Each band only has 30 minutes to make an impact and Pulled Apart By Horses truly succeed.

Golden Silvers are next up, but leave the attendees pretty uninspired. Catching up with Tim from Filthy Dukes at the bar, he tells Clash that the band were great last time he saw them, and had a whiff of Paul Weller and The Style Council about them; but on the strength of tonight’s performance there’s no evidence for such a comparison.

A quick run upstairs and we’re in the presence of Stricken City. Kate Bush-like vocals from front-lady Rebecca are mixed with jangled guitars, making for an initially interesting but ultimately slightly dull set. The group concludes with previous single 'Lost Art' – while the song’s noticeably more polished and structured than any previous numbers, the crowd is nevertheless left unaffected.

Of the whole night’s line-up the name standing out is that of James Yuill (pictured). His brilliantly camp orange feathered hat suggests he’ll integrate well with the now 20-hours-in party crowd; however, they now want beats and bleeps and his slow electro pop numbers aren’t quite doing it. After ten minutes of his set he gives up, delivering minutes of synth techno with bass so dirty it hurt the teeth.

The band of the night, somewhat surprisingly, turns out to be DJs-turned-band-proper Filthy Dukes. Living up to their headline slot they shake off any preconceptions, geeky impressions and throw down a belter of a set. Recent single ‘This Rhythm’ was a definite highlight of the night with its synth 80s aesthetics and really got the crowd jumping.

The next day presents The Big Pink, The XX, The Joy Formidable, The Noisettes, Dananananaykroyd and more. See, Amsterdam isn't all windmills, red lights, green and cheese…

Words: Charlotte Raffo


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