Thursday, 9 April 2009

Le Tetsuo, Rob The Rich, Friendship at Camden Barfly 4 April 2009

Le Tetsuo by Bonnie

Heading into the venue we find it sparsely populated. This is the problem that faces all up and coming bands – there is a vicious cycle in which you only play to your mates, who then leave the performance area to celebrate with you, leaving the venue empty for the NEXT band and their handful of acquaintances. So no-one gets to play to folk who haven’t already seen them and no-one gets to play to anything like a full room. It is the most depressing aspect of ‘paying your dues’.

I’ve come across Rob The Rich before. I liked them then and, some nine months later, I like them even more. This gang of lads aren’t doing anything spectacularly original, but they are gaining in confidence all the time and gathering together a tight set of songs. They have a dedicated lead singer but they really take off when he is joined on harmonies by the guitarist. It’s a joyful noise and a welcome one in an age of thick-ear lout rock. Songs such as ‘Escapado’ and ‘Art Project’ are excellent. It’s horrible to damn a band as ‘promising’, but this lot really are well worth your time.

Not so Illness. I could joke that they make me sick, but that would be overstating the case. They do however leave me cold and indifferent. I have almost no tolerance at all for exclusively instrumental bands of any stripe, so this duo is pretty much doomed with me from the start. One bangs a drum, while the other riffs on his guitar. This stuff is easy and it’s dull. I give them three songs to do something notable and then I’m outta there.

Le Tetsuo is the band who I’ve nominally come to see tonight. I like their recorded work and yet I’ve never seen them play live before.

The concept of a ‘Norwich Sound’ is a subject for another day, but I have certainly found that there is a common streak that runs through many of the bands from that city. It is best described as a kind of ramshackle quirkiness, a fragmented strain of pop that may appear ‘twee’ but is so restless that it never stays within any definable category for more than a few beats at a time. Le Tetsuo sit squarely within this bracket.

They rattle along pleasantly enough, but never quite hit the heights. Jack strums his guitar and sings; Charly clutches her bass and joins in. It’s all very listenable but all fairly unremarkable. The venue is like a morgue.

The headliners are another guitar and drum pairing called Friendship. They do have vocals, which automatically puts them higher up the scale than Illness, but they still aren’t very engaging. They are enjoying themselves, but we're not. A gradual gloom descends and we leave early.

It’s been a frustrating evening. The best band on the night were Rob The Rich, who are working their way up the musical pyramid and should by rights be gathering more attention. Le Tetsuo were jolly enough but rather subdued and the remaining acts were no good whatsoever.

You can’t hit the jackpot every time.

1 comment:

BadEgg said...

Yeah, I saw that gig and could barely bring myself to yawn. I saw Le tetsuo again at the weekend at 93ft East and they were fucking brilliant though. Well worth another bash if you like them on record.