Wednesday 3 February 2010

Mechanical Cabaret, The Modern, Cassette Electrik - Purple Turtle 29 January 2010

Gratuitous publicity pic of The Modern

What better way to stave off the winter chill than an evening down the Purple Turtle checking out underground electro bands? That was a rhetorical question, obviously.

We start proceedings with dapper duo The Cult With No Name. This pairing consist of Jon Boux, who plays an electronic keyboard wonderfully well and the tall, be-suited Erik Stein, who looks uncannily like the actor Lee Tergesen, who played the hapless Beecher in violent US prison drama OZ.

Stein croons wistfully, Boux tinkles. They don’t really excite, but they are decent enough company.
I have long been a connoisseur of UK electronic bands and am delighted to finally get to see Cassette Electrik. It’s like getting the missing stamp in my album.

And as stamps go, it’s a penny black. Cassette Electrik are in phenomenally good form this evening. Singer Lucy soars over a keyboard attack of crunching tics and bleeps. The audience jerk and twitch like they are connected to an alternating current. The small clunking sound that is heard at one point is my jaw hitting the floor.

Keyboard player Oli hangs off his instrument, delighting himself with the skronks and blasts of sound that he is able to conjure up. This music is a pure mash up of early techno a la LFO and modern club sounds.

The band are showcasing tracks from their forthcoming album, which on this evidence is going to be one of my 2010 faves. Single '28 Days’ is a good start.

Next up are a band with a chequered history and a certain amount of inadvertent notoriety. In 2006 The Modern were thrown out of the pop charts for chart rigging and the then line up fell apart shortly afterwards. While it transpires that the misdemeanour was more to do with a bulk order of singles to distribute overseas rather than an active attempt to manipulate the stats, the trauma of the events led to the remaining members of the band to soldier on under the name Matinee Club. But it wasn’t quite the same and it is good that they have now put all this behind them and have resumed activities.

Their fans have remained loyal, and I see plenty of the old faces who used to frequent the crazy parties/gigs that got the band noticed in the first place. It is thus something of a ready made triumph when the four piece start proceedings with their greatest bona fide hit “Jane Falls Down”.

Singer Emma Cooke is still a stunningly attractive performer, all blonde curls and voluptuous curves. She wriggles like an eel and single-handedly scotches the misconception that electronic music has to be cold and aloof.

Keyboard players Chi and Nathan are ensconced behind their trademark podules and take turns singing and acting as willing partners as Emma rubs herself around them. The set is a revelation as they are playing songs that I’m not familiar with, ending with an epic tune called “7 Oceans”.

Also from the Old School come Mechanical Cabaret, the vehicle of singer Roi Robertson, who seem to have been going for years with their brand of simple tunes and genial, mock-ironic emoting.

At first Roi seems a bit out of sorts, and the duo seems rather subdued. It’s not quite happening for them and the crowd stand around losing interest. However, about halfway through their set, the band pull a version of Adam Ant’s “Desperate But Not Serious” out of the bag and everything is transformed.

Now Roi is happy as a clam and enjoying himself. He starts to clamber off the stage to better interact with the audience, putting his arms around shoulders and crooning into their faces. This is always a popular move and serves as a reminder of just what a fine showman he is. It may have been a performance of two halves, but it ends in glory.

It’s been a marvellous evening – new bands discovered, old friends revisited. Great stuff.

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