Strutting on to their customary barbershop acappella set opener ‘Girls,Boys and Marsupials’, The Wombats may be halfway through a tour that would make most Gypsies nauseous, but they’re not going to let that stop the party. Tonight they run through what is shaping up to be one of the albums of the Summer, and come its release you get the sense this three piece will be playing venues five times this size.
‘School Uniforms’ wades in like a pubescent Ash gone new-wave , “I’m glad I’m not back in school” yelps Vocalist Dan (”…the Rat” , in Wombatland) and he’s not the only one judging by the response resonating around the room. For a band that have released only a handful of songs (and that includes b-sides) , tonight proves that they’re building a fan club ravenous enough to know the words to almost every song. The Rom-Com happy slapping ‘Kill The Director’s new-wave explosion causes an insurgence of flailing limbs.
Suddenly the barriers are hurled aside as a stage invasion sees the Mersey marsupials’ legroom being drenched in flat beer and surfing pop fanatics. Perfectly timed for the strike up of recent single ‘Backfire At The Disco’, which tonight sounds bigger than ever. “Poor man’s Cribs” mutter the fashionistas, polishing their winklepickers at the sidelines, for the rest of us who just wanna have fun though, a riotous ‘Moving To New York’ proves there’s few better bands.
This was fucking great gig.
The crowd, properly whipped up by the excellent Tilly And The Wall, were giddy with excitement as they waited for the Brazilian band of electro minstrels to make their way from the upstairs balcony, where they’d been whoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ to their support acts songs, to the magnificent, and sadly doomed, stage at the packed Astoria.
Three songs in and we saw three completely different outfits from Lovefoxxx, the adrenalin-pumped and irrepressible front woman. Her baggy jumper turned into a Bjork-like dress, before being peeled off and her leggings transformed into a cat suit, to a backdrop of staccato lighting, seizure inducing strobes and filthy dirty bass guitar.
Album and chart friendly favourites ‘Alala’, ‘Off The Hook’ and ‘Music is my Hot Hot Sex’ got the crowd yelling along, and the spiky lyrics of ‘Meeting Paris Hilton’ and ‘Art Bitch’, plus new song ‘J-Lo’ show the group are so much more than a novelty act.
The front row fell even more under the tiny singer’s spell as she blew glittery magic dust over their heads. Patting her head and rubbing her stomach she told everyone to ‘do exactly what I do’ and promptly skittered across the stage throwing impossible to copy shapes – her costume making her look like a gymnast at the disco Olympics.
The jaunty, poppy ‘Alcohol’ was introduced as a love song and bubbles poured forth from the back of the stage making the Astoria feel like it was sitting at the bottom of a potent Brazilian cocktail.
As the song finished, a girl with big thighs forgot to be cool, eluded security and got onto the stage – you could see the panic flash across her face as she realised how many people were looking at her. The band weren’t bothered at all, and all smiles and laughs crashed into the next song.
Lovefoxxx hugged her so much they both fell over, and for a moment the sturdy lass got to sing along into the microphone before security forced her to exit stage left.
They closed the set predictably with ‘Let’s Make Love (and Listen to Death From Above)’ as an encore, with the band jumping, dancing or simply squirming around on the floor in some apparent attack of rapture.
This five-piece band of arty types from Sao Paulo is all about fun – and because they were enjoying it so much… we didn’t mind too much about the sound being a bit out. Their satirical lyrics will go way over the heads of the Heat generation they mock, but their pure energy and fun will make everyone who sees them live wish they could be a member of the CSS carnival.
The atmosphere inside Koko on an unseasonably hot April Sunday is stifling to say the least but everyone assumes Peter, Bjorn and John will be chilled out enough not to raise the temperature to an even greater level. How wrong we are. What is about people, stages and turning into jumping jack-like maniacs?
Guitarist, Peter, is leaping around like he’s in The Sex Pistols whilst strumming out songs like ‘Let’s Call It Off’ and ‘Writer’s Block’, holding his head like a madman and playing his guitar like Hendrix. It sounds fantastic, especially as it is so unexpected. Peter, further endears himself to the increasingly sweaty public by declaring that “there’s so many of you, I can’t watch, I’m scared” before launching into one of the evening’s highlights, ‘Amsterdam’, a beautiful rendition of a standout track that encapsulates ‘Peter, Bjorn and John’ perfectly. Throughout the set, the contrast between Bjorn’s rough, uncomfortable and almost out of tune vocals contrasts wonderfully with Peter’s sweet, angelic, perfectly in tune take on the songs. It’s like a sweaty beauty and the beast. However, it’s the band’s rendition of ‘Young Folks’, complete with guest whistler that eventually sends the audience Koko-nuts, a song that it is actually impossible not to whistle along to. I’ve been whistling it while I’ve worked all week.
The Brixton Academy is full of blokes with pointy shoes and leather jackets drinking incredibly expensive cheap-lager shouting numbers in German and staring at what looks like a hyper active Marc Almond in a tight white t-shirt.
His band, The Rakes are playing songs about going out, coming back home, waking up next to ugly girls and working at a job in the city for an all right twenty two thousand pounds per annum.
At times it is great fun; how can you not enjoy dancing to a bunch of post-punk pop songs on a Saturday night, but at other times it is just a bit predictable and safe. Touring on the back of a successful first album, 2005’s ‘Capture/Release’ and currently promoting the recently released ‘Ten New Messages’, The Rakes have plenty of songs at their disposable and plenty of fans who know all the words.
They also have, in Alan Donohoe, a frontman who plays to his strengths. “Are you ready for some stupid dancing?!” is the cry and the answer is a resounding “too bloody right we are”. In the next forty-five minutes we are treated, if treated is the right word, to the ‘move your arm right-up, right-down, left-down, left-up’ dance, the ‘pointy fingers’ dance (to match the pointy shoes), the ‘roll your shoulders like a robot from the 80s’ dance and finally the ‘hold one finger in the air, wiggle your legs and twist your shoulders’ jerky dance. And a surprising number of punters were joining in.
Of course it’s not all about the dancing; there was music to listen to as well. Songs like ’22 Grand Job’ and ‘We Are All Animals’ got the greatest reaction from the crowd, but it was the mid set renditions of ‘All Too Human’ and latest single ‘We Danced Together’ that showed the Rakes off at their musical peak, utilising a bass sound of Joy Division proportions. However, I can’t help but think on tonight’s performance The Rakes work better on record where they portray a live sound much greater than that which they actually reproduce on the road. You have to make up your own dance moves with a CD though.