Wednesday, November 22, 2006
In town as part of their Hollywood Tour, Little Birdy show they can clearly still play a killer gig, pulling in the dressed-up girls and dressed-down boys, and make an inspired choice in picking Red Riders to be a support, also promoting a new album and no doubt winning some new fans in the process. But first ladies and gentlemen, Abbe Fuzz.
Sporting a gorgeous red dress, and an equally impressive Martin acoustic guitar, was opening act Abbe Fuzz who, without a word of introduction, proceeds to push her relentlessly aggressive blues-rock on the still thin crowd. While being the opening act to the support band can be a tough gig, there is no sign that she'll be giving this anything less than her all. Her simplistic guitar playing, soundalike songs, unoriginal riffs, complete ignorance of the less-is-more theory, and total lack of subtlety (or anything out of the key of E), make for a tough listen. Despite being utterly bereft of originality, her voice was quite an impressive instrument; part Hope Sandoval's richness, part Janis Joplin's wail and, given better material and more experience, could easily lead her to great things.
Following Abbe the almighty Red Riders bear the imprint of the Ivy League stable and a musical tightness that befits a band choosing to play exciting post-punk tunes. Within seconds they have the crowd and impress with the sheer one-two punch of of short songs and brief gaps. In Tom Wallace, Red Riders have a phenomenal drummer and while never being showy, he's a wonder to behold. His complex hi-hat work perfectly complements the lead guitar of Adrian Deutsch. Red Riders really do take a genre that you've every right to be completely uninterested in hearing yet another version of, and sure, they probably have the same influences as countless other bands, but this gig, and to a lesser extent their new Replica Replica album, thrill in a way you hope to be by a band playing punchy edgy rock. They dress like dorks, singer Alex Grigg rarely brings his chin down to the mic or opens his eyes, and they play their Rickenbackers as if they're about to be grabbed from their hands, especially on songs like I Think You're Blind, What They Say About Us, the catchy-as-hell A.S.P.I.R.I.N and the blinding new single Slide In Next To Me, each one reinvented in live form like a shot of black label Johnny Walker. Classy.
A short while, a crowd that multiplies faster than bacteria, and a house-light-dim later, Little Birdy and star of the night Katy Steele arrive to a rafter-lifting screech from the considerable number of appreciative girls present. Their backdrop; a scattering of stars against dark drapes and sketched animals faces dangling from the lighting rig, make perverse sense when watching Katy pacing the stage as if a cage, with her skin-tight black leather pants, odd-coloured heels and a neon-red coat - no question, she looked deadly, AND wears those clothes like no one else.
Opening with a storming version of Music For Love Robots/Come On, Come On that brings smiles and singalongs all-round, Little Birdy are clearly at home. The boys maintain a tight restraint - never missing a cue, while Katy acts like the star she clearly is in the eyes of those vocal fans, literally diving into each guitar-tech assisted guitar changeover, constantly getting tangled in her mic lead, kicking like a cheerleader while hacking away at her Telecaster and making every mad move look as natural as only a Steele can.
Coming across like a truckie on speed tonight was the "new direction" Little Birdy are taking toward a more electronic and dance-oriented sound. (Literally) rocking keyboardist Simon Leach propels many new songs with Moog-sounding leadlines that work especially well on Bodies and Set You Alight, songs that move the crowd in all the right ways, i.e: up and down. Hollywood brought out the lighters and Six Months In A Leaky Boat brought the cheers, and most everyone bought the merch. Little Birdy=customer satisfaction guaranteed.