Three months on Doldrums Avenue has been more than enough. An invite to the Lollies album launch party and a chance to catch a couple of other bands wasn't to be sniffed at. So your faithful correspondent - ably funded by the DSS - packed his bag, risked the many hazards of modern railway travel and headed off to the big smoke.
Quite. Staggering into Canada House (just off Trafalgar Square) in a state of near exhaustion and fully won over to the King Herod stance on child control after any attempts at rail related sleep are thwarted, a table of free alcohol presented itself. Three months ago, this would have been a cause for major celebration and resultant excess that would have my liver screaming revenge for days to come. Sadly, I'm now a bollocking teetotal. Always the fizzy water though. A short set by the Lollies follows, but I'm seeing them on the next day as well, and can't be bothered to wear my critic hat. And after a short stay at possibly the most expensive bar in the western world, it's off to the Borderline to have a listen to Blusher.
It's a wonder why Blusher haven't had labels furiously chasing them waving cheques. There are two reasons why I think this:
- From my world-weary-21-going-on-51 point of view, I wonder why a band fronted by two attractive young women haven't been snapped up by some label who see easy marketing opportunities.
Of course, I can disregard this because:
- It's simply not a factor. Because they just sound bloody good. Indeed, I feel a bit of a provincial hick for having never heard them before, given they've been around a couple of years now.
Blusher once said that they "wanna give everyone in the world goosebumps". Given half a chance, you can see them doing just that. For in guitarist/singer Jen Macro they have someone in possession of a quite remarkable voice, somewhere in the league of Alison Goldfrapp and Dolores O'Riordan from the Cranberries (without the naff lyrics).
Gill Sandell gives more then a little gusto on the backing vocals front, and her keyboards make up pretty much the cornerstone on which the atmospheric sound Blusher have to offer is built. Alongside them, bassist Jon "nice bloke" Clayton and drummer Ian Cotterill prove to be more then token blokes making up the numbers, knocking out some pretty killer rhythms alongside the massive sound their bandmates provide.
For a four-piece, Blusher fill every square inch of the Borderline with consummate ease and the music has this horrible habit of grabbing your attention and no matter how much you try to shake it off, it holds on with all it's got leaving you with a slight dizzy sensation. Of course, this could just be my reaction to the London air, but I chance not. Whether or not they'd do the same at larger venues is something else, but they more then deserve a shot at finding out.
So, a long day then. Ended in some style as well, the memory of seemingly hundreds of rats scurrying around Tottenham Court Road causing much unneeded anxiety and claustrophobia (blame James Herbert).
Tuesday. After spending the day gallivanting around the countryside, it's down to Oxford Street to see the Lollies at the Metro. Now, as regular readers will know, I bang on about this band at any given opportunity. But I'm only trying to get the message across.
The last time I saw them live though, they were a quartet. In the resultant 11 months however, they've shrunk by one and I was half anxious/apprehensive to see how songs that on the album featured keyboards and the like would sound live.
Hey, I worry too much. A particular highlight was Happy, a song which on the album featured all manner of electronic goings on and it's turned around live. Using the bassline from New Order's Ceremony as a spine, it also features some damn emotive guitar playing. Yeah, that's emotive as in 'emotion'. Remember that?
Better still is It's All Good, an older song given new life by some pretty impressive guitar effects which take the sound someplace alongside Ride and early 90's Manchester also-rans the High. Impressive to say the least.
Of course, one thing the Lollies might suffer from is first impressions. You hear the name, you think of a sugar-pop band from the 60's, like 1910 Fruitgum Company or something. And they can do that sound no problem. But then there's also stuff like Little Death Machine, which shows they can rock hard enough to make Lemmy's dentures begin to shake. They're playing gigs around the country, and if you don't take up a chance to see them, then as the wise man once said, "I pity the fool".
And the message? Easy: the Lollies are the new Crucial Three.
One short jaunt down the tube later, it's the 93 Feet East venue to see British Sea Power, a name I've heard thrown around a fair bit this last year. The odd mention in the press, from friends, etc. They're also partly from Cumbria, my own fair homeland. And it's good to see some boys from God's own Country doing so well. I'm told this is their biggest gig in London to date, and judging by the packed out crowd, and the praise lavished on recent single The Spirit of St Louis, it seems things are looking to be on the positive side for them.
Then again, it's not too tricky to understand their growing reputation. The stage to which they take is a sight to see, covered with branches and various autumnal objects, though the band have also got their image down to a tee. The guitar player in particular looks impressive, resembling Julian Cope circa 1979, while the keyboard players genuine WWII British army helmet (complete with white feather) is a nice touch.
Anyone who watched this performance won't be in much doubt that British Sea Power could be the next band to leap over to the top 40. But the residing memory is off set-closer Lately, which ends with a combination of a military drum and complete destruction. Band members going to somewhat extreme lengths to ensure that the stage, drumkit and each other are completely deconstructed. Presumably to save the road crew some time afterwards. But on the strength of this, if Bush and Blair insist on bringing on the end of the world, they couldn't do much better then get British Sea Power to soundtrack the proceedings.
Returning to the note of Julian Cope, the Grand Druid himself once said of B.S.P: "Cumbrian Kelto-Vikings in paramilitary uniforms are right up my strasse!" Couldn't put it better myself.
It was with a heavy heart I reluctantly boarded the train back up North. Cumbria may have killer scenery, loads of open space and air that actually has some oxygen in it, but when it comes to music, it comes up a little on the short side. Therefore, any donations to the "Peter Mattinson Escape From Cumbria" fund will be gratefully accepted.
Peter would like to say a big thank you to Emma Hogan for all her help.