Strummerville's "clean and cool" trio
Clarks Originals: Real Fur

Accustomed to the soothing odour of fabric softener and gently ruminating washing machines, Real Fur seem a little startled to be playing to the thoroughfare of rush hour Piccadilly. Their next gig but one is in a laundrette on the Roman Road in east London, and once they start it’s clear that originality’s something they make a rule of.

Real Fur were Evening Standard banner stars last autumn when they covered the increasing vogue for laundrette gigs – a phenomenon pioneered by Real Fur, branded “clean and cool” by drummer Leo Duncan – speaking to me tonight bassist Matt McGough tells me that people get into the machines in states of excitement – check their MySpace for the next show – Clash would definitely love to be there.

Matt tells me that he tormented his girlfriend to the brink of tears by not revealing his Valentine’s Day surprise until the end of the day – she then ruined it by putting it on Facebook instantaneously – but they seem generally to have had a happier Valentine’s Day than the less successful [earlier band] Pete and the Pirates – maybe Reading girls don’t like Arcade Fire.

The band is supported by Strummerville, a charity dedicated to Strummer’s spriti, that supports up-and-coming bands with spaces in Roundhouse rehearsal rooms, amongst many many other tasks.

The band began with 'She’s Late', a Valentine’s Day lament, or a pee-on-the-stick scare, Clash couldn’t decide, but decided to like the jerky, scattered song, percussion coming from a scarf-muffled snare drum and a lovely reverbed guitar.

‘Birds’ was a Gomez-y, bluesy-soup number, until they pulled out the unexpected barber-shop falsetto – "Every penny I spend is a penny I owe", sing the band, cryptically. The band have a very good look, with bassist Matt looking like a jejune, post-punk character in 'Toy Story 3', with Leo the drummer balancing a ever-collapsing mop of dark hair over a dishevelled jumper and deceptively neat drumming.

‘Sinking Ship’ saw the band slip into a quieter mode, but still effective, with nice touches including Matt and Leo harmonising over the lead and Leo playing a muted trumpet to nice effect. The overall impression is one deliciously lost and varied – a nice accompaniment to the chocolate orange light of dusk on Regent Street.

Next were two more dance orientated songs, ‘Animal’ and ‘Pride’, both on their MySpace, 'Pride' being about the misplaced arrogance of someone from a small town in the UK coming to London and thinking that they will make a big impression. Not content with doing him down, Real Fur then nick his bird in the song, really rubbing it in for him. They close with ‘The Fool’, more of a balladeer number, which features some great aqueous, orient-inflected reverb guitar.

Bluesy, dispersed, well-written – Real Fur songs have something real and charming about them, perhaps more live than on their MySpace streams. Catch them on their Safari Funk tour in Spring, or among the spun dried clothes and silver coins at a beautiful laundrette.

Words by Miguel Cullen
Photo by Marc Sethi

Find out more about Clarks Originals 'Original And Live' gig series on HERE.

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