Wednesday 1 October 2008

HeartsRevolution / Death Cigarettes at Proud Gallery

Photo: Lorne Thomson

There are at least three reasons to be here tonight.

First amongst these is the appearance of the ever wonderful Death Cigarettes, about whom I rave on this site whenever possible. The second is anticipation of the head liners Heartsrevolution, and thirdly is the venue itself, which has good and bad points, but which generally creates a special atmosphere.

I still think that £11 is a bit steep for this evening, though.

For those unfamiliar with the place – Proud Gallery is a converted stable block which has been upgraded to cater for lavish entertainment. It’s a lovely environment and great fun, can be a very unforgiving place for small bands to play.

This is because the stage where the bands perform is set in a largish covered courtyard and is separate from the bar and stable areas. Unless you are interested enough to keep an eye on the stage, or are just passing through to the main venue where dance music blares all night, you wouldn’t even know that a band has started playing. On nights such as these, the acts are presented as exotic but incidental attractions in the same way in which girls dance on plinths in clubs in 1980’s movies.

Death Cigarettes thus have their work cut out. But of course they rise to the challenge.

The deceptively innocent looking Maya is fretful because of a large and unnecessary crowd barrier that surrounds the stage. Referring to it throughout as “The Cage” she tries to uproot it, kicks it, bangs her fists against it and generally rails against the injustice of keeping her from her audience.

So, like a mini-Maginot Line, she solves the problem by going round the side. Once among the crowd she can get to business chivvying them around and coyly luring passers by into her web- before grabbing hold of them and screaming in their ear.

The rest of the band mostly stay put, and become the real focal point once Maya has disappeared into the open spaces. The set is strong as ever, and concludes with a dismantled drum kit, guitars flung and an ankle-threatening jump straight over the top of the barrier. Another exhilarating performance and a job well done.

The Bishops who follow, have a much harder time of it. I’m not a great fan of them at the best of times and tonight they seem to have regressed to an embarrassing degree. They are just shouting to make themselves heard and it quickly becomes painful. I temporarily withdraw.

Heartsrevolution come here tonight having already played earlier this evening at ULU in a support slot for Midnight Juggernauts. Singer Lo looks very forlorn as she sits on an amplifier waiting for the two other members of the band to set up.

Once they start playing, they are terrific, although the sound balance is horribly awry, with the drums all but drowning out everything else. However, it becomes clear that Lo is in a lot of distress and has somehow this evening –the earlier show?- sustained an almighty blow to the head. She is clearly disorientated and after a mere handful of songs is unable to continue. It is very unsettling and you hope that she is going to be alright.

By this stage of the evening, the Proud Gallery has come into its own as a lively nightspot. This is what it does best. But they could make more effort on behalf of the bands that play there.

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