Sunday 29 June 2008

The Bookhouse Boys / Isosceles -The Borderline

Isosceles @ Voodoo Rooms 27/3/08

Jack Valentine holds his guitar to his cheek and gets ready to rock.

Isosceles have come down from Glasgow to play to what starts out as a pretty depleted Borderline. Like all great live acts, the Scots don’t give a stuff about the sparse attendance and the empty space in front of the stage, instead launching into a full tilt set that belies the circumstances.

Valentine is a real star in the making, his guitar swung around on a short strap, often held in the air and cradled to his bosom like a loved one. His boundless energy, manic dashing about and occasional Chuck Berry duck walk speak of a guy who is thoroughly enjoying himself. And this enthusiasm extends to the rest of the band.

Jack is ably abetted by William Aikman, who pounds away on a Hammond organ, producing sounds that are less traditional accompaniment and more semi-random skronks of noise. It all works very well, as does William’s singing along with gusto.

A mark of a good band is that although I have never heard them before, their songs instantly hook into my brain, and I and the rest of my group have started using the chorus of “Get Your Hands Off” for fun and giggles ever since I saw them.

They end with a rousing version of the single “Kitch (sic) Bitch” and those of us who were there give them a big cheer and an ovation. Isosceles are enormous fun, and I recommend them without reservation.

We saw The Bookhouse Boys on the Camden Crawl, and enjoyed them so much that here we are again to see them headline in their own right.

They are impressive before they’ve even played a note - a nine piece unit squeezed onto the small stage, dressed in black, and including two drummers and a trumpet section.

Singer/guitarist Paul Van Oestren marshals his troops marvellously, bending down from the throng to emote into a microphone which seems set uncomfortably low, but which enables him to croon to the audience. This low posture is also useful for pleading and emoting through songs such as ‘Dead’ and ‘Tonight’, both of which are wonderful this evening.

Stage left, the other main vocalist, Catherine Turner, has poured herself into a black sheath dress that is slinky and sleek and any other similar adjective you can think of. ‘Femme fatale’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

A band this size is always going to make an impact, and when they are in full effect on the instrumental ‘G-Surf’, they take your breath away. Van Oestren admits that tonight they have one stand-in drummer and one of the trumpeters has played on despite a broken wrist, but never mind the logistics, the Bookhouse Boys are a wonderful band.

It’s been a damn good evening, with two bands who must surely progress further up the music business ladder. I commend them both.

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