Monday, 14 March 2011

The Volitains, Cold In Berlin, The Unkindness of Ravens at The Workshop - 12 March 2011

The Volitains

Another Saturday, another tiny venue in Shoreditch. It is so cramped down here that the audience has to part each time staff from upstairs have to fetch a case of beer or a bag of ice from the storeroom. This lends a certain illicit thrill to the evening. We feel like we are in the way, like we shouldn’t be here.

First band on are Mutant Vinyl, who hail from Bournemouth and are young and urgent and have a fine line in the kind of punky white boy reggae that the Clash pioneered. This is a connection made explicit over the course of their set, which includes a cover of ‘Guns of Brixton’.

The focal point and head honcho of the band is Edwin Pope, who plays both guitar and saxophone and also clutches his microphone with both hands (when he can get them free). He has his hoody pulled up and declaims and emotes and it’s all very good.

Mutant Vinyl have a lot of supporters here and you can see what has got them excited. This band has a real popular appeal. Keep an eye out.

The Unkindness of Ravens are markedly different. There are two of them, guitarist Ben Raine and the fascinatingly unusual singer Nina Wagner. The pair produces a dark and twisted blues pop to the backing of a thunderous drum machine.

You can’t tear your eyes off Wagner. She perpetually wriggles and writhes, her arms often at stiff right angles. It’s not a dance style that I have seen before but it certainly gets your attention. Imagine a robot dancing the credits to ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ and you are kind of there. Her voice is low and husky and completely appropriate.

The Unkindness of Ravens put on quite a show and I’m glad to add them to my list of bands that I’ll be happy to catch again.

Cold In Berlin need no introduction around these parts and tonight’s show does not disappoint.

Singer Maya apologies for having a bit of a cold, but you’d never have thought that she was below par as she screams, roars and rages in front of the stage. Guitarists wander among us, heads bowed and hooded. The band are, as ever, apocalyptically sublime.

This leaves headliners The Volitains with a bit of an uphill task. The make up of the band (girl singer, two guitars, drummer) exactly mirrors the act that precedes them and this makes it very difficult not to draw comparisons.

Singer Candice Ayrey certainly gives her all, standing alone in front of her pals, often bent double with the ferocity of her delivery.

In these circumstances I find it impossible to judge them on their own merits. So on this occasion, I won’t. But I recommend that you go and make your own mind up.

Another Saturday. Another venue. Another great night out.

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