Thursday 26 February 2009

The Kabeedies, Apache Beat, Hexa at Proud Gallery 21 February 2009

Kabeedies pic by Alex Batten

One day (probably the next time I do a review of the year to date) I’ll mention the events that have eventually led to me being at the Proud Gallery tonight. Suffice to say that I’ve just been to Haverstock Arms, a venue that is so ill suited to putting on live acts that many of those booked to perform have taken one look at the set up and refused to play. And that I then accompanied one of these bands on a trek through Camden on an ultimately fruitless attempt to get them on a bill elsewhere.

That excursion having come to naught, I have diverted to Proud for the rest of the evening. The place is heaving, but as I have said of this venue before, bands have to compete with DJs, private parties and all manner of other distractions. The performance area also has the acoustics of an aircraft hangar and acts have to be on top form to make an impression.

Hexa are giving it plenty of welly. And any band that includes three rotating singers and a brass section have the ammunition to make plenty of impact. Which they do.

The band blast out a succession of soulful pop stompers, all of which are relentlessly upbeat. Just right for a Saturday night. It is also to their credit that even though some songs are performed by one singer and others by one or more of the two others, that there is no noticeable dropping off in quality between each lead.

If Iain Sinclair was to do one of his psycho-geographical assessments of Hexa he would say that they perform at the crossroads of Bookhouse Boys and Go Team. (Actually, I’m not sure that he would, but that has enabled me to do the old writers’ trick of saying ‘Band X sounds like Bands Y & Z’ without putting it as baldly as that.)

Next up are the hotly touted Apache Beat. They are very impressive, even if most of the sound that they are making seems not to be leaving the stage, but somehow getting lost in the rafters above.

Singer Christina Aceto has a fine voice and she hunches over her microphone with her eyes closed, lost in music, caught in a trance etc. Next to her brother smashes his guitar around creating a forceful punky racket. Watching them I think ruefully of timing and how some bands hit the mark and others don’t - this lot are good, especially live, but to me they sound like a watered down version of The Sam I Am/Boudica, an incendiary act from Southend who have recently called it a day in the face of indifference from the general music scene. Unfortunately, they didn’t come from Brooklyn and so weren’t deemed hip.

Apache Beat deserve every success; it’s just that they make me a little wistful.

I have no such qualms about tonight’s headliners, The Kabeedies. This is the second time that I have seen them in three months and they are rapidly becoming one of my favourite live acts.

Small but sturdy singer Katie Allard is flanked by two lads on bass and guitar. She is a pocket dynamo, marching on the spot, pistoning her arms, all the while demanding attention.

The songs are short and spiky, twisted pop gems such as ‘King Canute’ and ‘Fuzzy Felt’. The crowd dance and whoop and are really enjoying themselves. The band even seems to have overcome the rubbish acoustics in here.

A very strange and eventful evening, ultimately saved by a trio of strong acts. As for earlier – let’s just say that The Haverstock Arms is a better place for watching football than music.

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