Sunday, 1 February 2009

Live @ The Kasbah

It’s been a while since I saw some live guitar based music and being new to Coventry I thought it best if I got myself down to The Kasbah, the city’s leading venue, for a night of local bands. First to take the spotlight were Momma’s in the Kitchen and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when they first took to the stage. The drummer was sporting an extreme version of that horrendous indie hairdo I like to call the ‘negative fringe’. You know the one, short on top, long on the sides, bit like a bowl cut gone wrong then to top it off they’ve lopped away a perfect square from the front so they can see where they’re going. This guy’s face frame was so long he looked like an ironed spaniel, whilst the lead singer looked like Russell Brand had been fucked in the ass by a Christian rocker and was considering singing about Jesus on the back of a truck like that really weird bit in Vanishing Point.

But let me not judge a book by its cover. They were actually rather good, defying the above mentioned indie-Jesus-rock soundclash their style suggested (hang on, isn’t that Kings of Leon?) to play some rather funky blues that hinted at The Who in places. The instrumental tunes were nicely arranged but the bassist sounded like he had stiff fingers; rather than driving the rhythm he was playing catch up most of the time and the odd occasion the lead guitarist pitched in with backing vocals I couldn’t help comparing his voice to George Dawes in Shooting Stars. And why a band from Coventry sang about the Mississippi Delta I’ve no idea, there’s plenty to inspire a blues band in Cov isn’t there?

Next up were
The Illchemists, quite a fitting name as they take different sounds and mix them together with the eccentricity of an old English quack to produce some jolly spiffing musical gold. I have to say I wasn’t impressed when the lead singer turned up on stage wearing Wayfarers though (indoors! ffs!) Musically, they’re a riot, a bit hard to describe but rather like Das Wanderlust doing ska covers of The Raconteurs, a little bit everywhere yet quintessentially English; Blackpool organs and Coventry two-tone blazing through the melee.

Unfortunately, lyrically they leave a lot to be desired. Repeating the title of a 60s B-movie over and over again a good song it does not make. Well done, you know your exploitation movies, get over it, superstar prat Paul Oakenfold already namechecked that film a couple of years ago (Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill!) Most of their other lyrics I couldn’t make out but one song seemed to be inspired by Patrick MacGoohan in The Prisoner, something about not being a number but it was really rather monotonous and hackneyed and easily forgettable, which is a shame because their music is great fun and really gets the old plates of meat moving.

Finally, the stage was swamped by
The Bellows, an eight piece ensemble with an equally large ensemble of instruments. Acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums, tambourine, trumpet, clarinet, megaphone, one of them mini-keyboards you blow into, I think there was a banjo in there too and a short arse brunette who wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself, all got a look in. It made for a wonderful eclecticism, going a bit hillbilly ho-down here, a bit of ska there, the tiniest smidgen of Santana somewhere else, all underpinned by a good old folky feel good sound.

It was a bit disappointing that the lead singer chose to sing in a vaguely American accent – when will British bands just be proud of where they’re from? Unless of course he is American in which case I apologise profusely – but as the set progressed and the (bizarre as it sounds) folk cuts became that little bit more effervescent it was hard not to get swept away by all their energy, which actually seemed rather effortless. On another night when they’re in fifth gear their wall of sound would probably be more like a bulldozer, but it’ll come with time and they proved a great way to finish the night.

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