Monday, December 7, 2009

Live Review: IAN BROWN, BELLES WILL RING - written with Benjamin Cluness

Thursday, March 20, 2008 
Hi-Fi Bar

It is with euphoric joy that the crowd float down the stairs of the Hi-Fi Bar, bolstered by the best part of the recent output of Becks brewery and more than ready to boogie with Mr Brown and bond in a way that is rarely seen out of football terraces in the UK. T-shirts are snapped up before a note is played, Brown could do play nothing but the new album and we’d love him.

Support comes in the form of psychedelic folksters, Belles Will Ring. Comparisons to The Doors, The Velvet Underground (circa Loaded), and British pop bands of late 60s spring to mind. Their second song, The Coldest Heart, provides the standout track, with it’s jangling guitar and rolling vocals. Despite giving a good performance and possessing a strong sound, Belles Will Ring fail to ignite the crowd in any way, the dance floor only filling for their final song Mad Love before they leave the stage. Tough gig.

Waves of excitement ripple across the crowd as we wait for Brown to take the stage, his name chanted loudly to the ’Here we go, here we go, here we go--oo’ melody, followed by raucous cheering as he bounds into view. Wearing clothing more befitting a teenager than a man in his mid-forties yet without looking ridiculous, he swaggers across the stage, as the opening bassline for I Wanna Be Adored rumbles through the venue. Delivered in his trademark, charisma-laden albeit tuneless tones, Adored is the perfect opener. "So. Anyone here from Australia?" cracks Brown to the 90% British crowd as he paces the stage, throwing the odd monkey move in his baggy jeans. "You all backpackers ’ey? You all skint? Fucking should be after paying for these tickets." If Dolphins Were Monkeys follows, much to the delight of the insanely over-hyped crowd who are already a mess of sweat and fists. The set takes in selections from Brown’s back catalogue, with each of his albums represented as well as the Stone Roses debut (their sophomore album Second Coming is, thankfully, ignored). Golden Gaze thunders along over trip-hop drums and a dirty synth line, while Longsight M13 sees Brown deliver his best vocal performance of the night, before a redundant "So, do you lot like The Roses then?" precedes the loudest most laddish version of Waterfall imaginable, the crowd nearly drowning out the band.

Encore-opener I Am The Resurrection begins to tumultuous applause and frenzied cheering. Brown clearly at ease with the excitement he is causing as he bellows out the chorus. For the breakdown the former Roses front-man takes position beside Goldfinger, the turbaned percussionist, to batter the bongos and crash the cymbals. The guitar solo erupts as do the crowd in a seething mass of demented moshing. A riotous rendition of F.E.A.R serves to close the night, the crowd singing every word back at the stage - a crowd that could teach the standard Melbourne audience a thing or ten about how to act during a gig - before the drained crowd pick their way through the sea of scattered bottles. Despite being unable to sing in tune, Brown is a natural and charismatic performer, swaggering across the stage with the arrogance of someone half his age. He is adored.

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