Bury St Edmunds piece The Dawn Parade were recently proclaimed by Rolling Stone magazine to be "AWESOME... NOTE TO UK LABELS: SIGN THIS BAND NOW!", and while they've so far evaded the radar of some of the major music publications like NME, other positive press reports and the plaudits of their hometown peers, the excellent Miss Black America (whose vocalist Seymour Glass described the band as "like The Smiths and Guns 'n' Roses flicking lit matches at an absinthe-drenched Iggy Pop", and whose website calls them "the least fashionable but also the sexiest band in the World") helped convince me to check The Dawn Parade out at this free gig instead of New York Disco-Punkers The Rapture at the Barfly across the city.
Aside from the above Smiths/G'N'R comparisons, other references have been made to Dylan, early Manics, The New York Dolls and Suede, while the band themselves also cite Kingmaker and Soft Cell as influences. After decent sets by local supports The Blue Scandal (studenty prog-indie) and The Present (echoes of the Stone Roses and Jesus and Mary Chain in parts), The Dawn Parade belatedly took to the stage to a seemingly emptier crowd than the bands before them. With a lot of hyped bands there is always the sneaking fear of a huge letdown in front of a large crowd turning up purely because of what they've heard of them, but the emptied out room left me wondering if the band might feel a little demoralised by the seemingly low profile of the gig. I'll be honest, they came on, and the thought "sub Rachael Stamp?" crossed my mind, then they started playing. They open like The Smiths with a slightly Celtic, Jimmy Page-esque tinge - shame about the slightly cheesy rock poses, but many will find them endearing. The following Hole In My Heart marries the lyrical genius that Richey Edwards reached around The Holy Bible, as frontman Greg Mcdonald sings "I'm sick of being a nobody, I'm sick of coming last, And I would give you everything, All I've got's this hole in my heart", with shades of Morrissey, "She hugged me and she said "Of course I love you…Of course I love you as a friend", If I hear that one more time, I'll cut both my ears off, I swear, but I swear things all the time", and a closing refrain reminiscent of Dylan - "Some day...I'm going to be so famous, my dear, And I'll still remember you, But I won't need you anymore".
With Miss Black America from the same town there must be something in the Bury air that facilitates superb painful music. The urge to quote Greg's lyrics in this review is incredible, as they're some of the best I've ever encountered from a new artist (said without that much embarrassment). There is simply too much exciting stuff to say about this band to fit in one review. Image-wise, some of the band have clearly drawn a little from Suede and Richey Edwards, while bassist Barnaby (put that on your website and watch it get quoted) has gone for a pinstripe suit based motif that would allow him to audition as stunt double for a generic Strokes member on "the Rocky Horror Show". But the way they interact with the crowd lacks any of the arrogance associated with some of the aforementioned names, Barney telling us we're all "lovely people" with utmost sincerity, and Greg explaining how great it feels "to have a front row" as they'd played Portsmouth a few days before without any paying customers. There's almost an invertedly uplifting Richard E.Grant as Withnail quality to his stage presence as he says "you either start a band to be rich and famous and sleep with supermodels or to get out of your bedroom" with abject sincerity and apologises for the pomposity of the way he keeps on thanking the crowd, and he washes away any negativity which I may initially have felt about the bands image.
Sound-wise, the band distil the best bits of the Smiths, Idlewild and G'N'R , Greg's voice echoing Roddy Woomble, Dylan and Robert Smith. Songs like Salt and Vinegar Lips, Some Desperate Beat, Into the Fire and Between Slough and Salvation suggest that the band can achieve their aim of mattering "to people as much as The Smiths mattered" and being "as universal as REM or U2". As Good Look Olivia nears the gigs end with the same quality of Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone, its been a memorable night. To put this in perspective, as I write I'm listening to Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, the late bittersweet 1990's album which truly convinced me of his greatness as an artist, reading Greg's lyrics on the web at the same time, there's no discernable gap in quality. Truly a band to wade through the glitter for.
Reviewed By Thomas Lee