Thursday 5 June 2008

Those Dancing Days / John and Jehn @ 100 Club

Heading into the 100 Club at around half eight it seems that the timings of tonight’s bands are all over the place. There is only one support act, John & Jehn, and they are already in the early throes of their set. They are billed to play for half an hour. The headliners, Those Dancing Days, who have released a grand total of two singles so far, are down to perform for a daunting hour and a half. And pigs might fly.

John & Jehn are a French couple, although now based in London. John wields a guitar, sports cadaverous cheekbones and in moments of excitement, rolls his eyes into the back of his head, leaving only the whites visible. It’s not a good look.

Jehn meanwhile starts off behind a huge Farfisa organ, dark and intense, arching her back, before strapping on a bass guitar for the second half of the set to smash the living hell out of it.

Their songs are primitive and rhythm driven, and to my ears at least, the guitar-led tracks work a lot better than those with the organ. As the set proceeds, the pair build up an impressive intensity, jerking around and getting lost in the music and each other. The track ‘Sister’ particularly stands out.

John & Jehn depart, leaving an awful long time for the headliners to fill.

After a gap just long enough to start to be annoying, the five girls of Those Dancing Days come bounding on the stage. The absolute first impression that strikes you is how incredibly young they appear. I’ve seen bands with kids in before, but this lot look like a school music project.

The singer of the band, dressed rather like a junior tribute to John McEnroe, is Linnea Jönsson, and boy, does she have an unusual voice. She has the pipes of a Sixties soul singer, but an unusually low register, so much so that on the occasions when she has to hit a high note, her voice actually breaks and becomes a squeak.

The band show enormous enthusiasm and manage to be simultaneously very basic and very ambitious. It’s like a skiffle band playing progressive rock, in that songs which initially seem to be very straightforward tub-thumping, are stretched longer than is possible wise, and change key and rhythm in unexpected ways.

The drummer in the group is an absolute powerhouse, really driving things along. Similarly, the deliriously happy keyboard player also makes an impression, somehow managing to make a wonderfully danceable racket while at the same time dancing like a loon.

The set bounces along at a fair old lick, and there is a mini rush to the front as they sing “Hitten”. They finish off with an extended version of the eponymous “Those Dancing Days”.

They have played for just over half an hour, as was suspected. This is exactly how it should be. Short and sweet.

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