Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Monday, February 19, 2007
The Empress

You can almost pinpoint the month in 1981 that it felt like you were stepping into, coming to see these acts tonight. Different styles yes, but the bonding attitude was one of the liberation that era embraced, and chopped rhythms, tight jeans, kraut keyboard get the picture. It's a good picture, in danger of being overexposed perhaps, but still exciting when featuring the right bands.

Nick Litzow (AKA Falling Star) from the very worthy Dolly Wilds was stepping in for the band, and did a wholly admirable job. Choice of cover (Marianne Faithfull's The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan) was inspired, as was the detached delivery - at once reminiscent of the aforementioned era without sounding like anyone but himself. Litzow's perfectly judged keyboard sounds, poignant melodies, Numan-cold rhythms and Teutonic vocal style were perfectly cast against the nature of his very human lyrics, particularly the track Industry Can Crumble.

World's End Press follow and surprise with their striking appearance, array of keyboards, quality gear and the-stage-is-crowded-but-I'm-still-rockin' moves. Here is a band that should fully expect to be reeling in the punters this time next year; they clearly have the look, the sound and, superficially, all the ingredients you'd expect for a Next Big Thing call. Thing is, at present they're almost bereft of memorable songs, have limited musical ability and little perceivable personality. Of this hasn't stopped many NBTs in the past, but watching their lack of communication, weak vocalising, lost lyrics and mannered formulism of the songs are things that hopefully time will sort out. Tonight though, there was little audience contact, too many rhythmic shifts to find a groove and minimal change in dynamics which undercut the atmosphere they sought to create.

By the time Tic Toc Tokyo arrive The Empress is packed in a way that indeed made you feel like you were seeing a gig there in 1981; before noise complaints, WoW, DVDs and when people weren't afraid to shake some action to a guitar band in front of a stage. TTT were, tonight, completely fantastic. From a blistering Action Time via the highlights I Am An Amateur, Like Blue Neon and Love Song this is a band tightly controlling their songs' many corners and working at the edge of their considerable talents. The treble-heavy, melodic bass worked wonderfully in tandem with the staccato drums, making jagged, contorted rhythms and seamless musical shifts; strengths which served to set these guys apart from so many of the other bands plowing this farrow. A lack of overall dynamics is overridden by this rhythmic impact and deservedly gets punters dancing. The brevity of their songs works well too, making each a karate-chop of icy rock which goes down particularly well with the chipper punters. Their upcoming gig with Red Riders should be a blinder.

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