Saturday, 10 January 2009

Applicants / Young Paul at the Metro, 8.1.2009


Applicants pic by Julius Beltrane

I enter the Metro with mixed emotions. It’s the first gig of a brand new year and I’m looking forward to it. However, due to the Cross Rail train project, this venue will close for ever next week and London will have lost one of the better small places where bands can play in the Capital.

I have been coming here for years and have seen the likes of Kaito, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Soledad Brothers, The Kills, Mika Bomb, Rogers Sisters, and many others. The Metro is tiny, intimate, atmospheric- the real embodiment of that which is sometimes dismissively referred to as the ‘toilet circuit’, but is really the bread and butter of live performance, giving new bands the opportunity to hone their skills in front of a paying audience. It is vibrant, urgent and necessary.


Or like tonight in the first working week of January, largely deserted.

As I don’t believe there is mileage in knocking up and coming bands, I shall skirt over The Blind Hearts and merely say that they don’t appeal to me much. Fans of The Verve, and Richard Ashcroft in particular, may find something more to their taste.

Much more my cup of poison is Young Paul. This is a duo of guitarist Omer, resplendent in white suit and permed hair flopping over his face and Carole, who has a huge voice and a small keyboard.

Despite being bedevilled for much of their set by poor sound (I am no more than ten feet away and have to crane forward to properly hear them) it is clear that these two are onto something. There are proper songs here, and an impressive chemistry between the two performers.

Omer sings quietly and plays groovy dance licks, Carole undulates and roars out the numbers like a she-demon. The music is insidiously catchy, the mood is warm and a general bonhomie prevails. If it wasn’t so stubbornly attached, I would have danced my ass off. Track ‘Breaking and Entering’ is a stormer. Young Paul are well worth keeping an eye on.

The final band of the evening is the Applicants and right from the start it is clear that we are going to be in for a good time. For starters, most of the band is spattered in fake blood and wearing distressed clothing that makes them look like passengers from the Titanic just after the iceberg arrived.

They charge off with all guns blazing right from the start, and before the end of the first song singer/guitarist Fidel Villeneuve is off the stage and playing his instrument with his teeth. Musically, they are the closest thing I have seen to the Rezillos since, well, The Rezillos.

This is good time rama-a-lama garage punk with a smile on its face and its heart full of mischief.
The queen of misrule is bouncing bundle of energy Jeff, a perpetually grinning and prancing anarchic presence on stage and amongst the audience. She’s fuelled in equal parts by the sheer joy of performing and copious swigs of Red Stripe.

The whole of the Applicants’ set passes in a whirl of candy coloured fun. It doesn’t matter that some songs have to be curtailed because the guitarist has broken all his strings or has become entangled in his microphone cable, nor that Jeff spends some time sat on top of the drummer, somewhat cramping his ability to play.

The audience gets to participate too. Having seen a colleague mauled and flattened by a careening Jeff, I find a microphone thrust into my face with an invitation to bawl along to the song ‘Evelyn Waugh’. I bellow lustily, despite not knowing any of the words.

And then the tumult stops and all is quiet. It has been an exhilarating final performance and an absolutely fitting way to bring in the New Year and say goodbye to a great venue.