Thursday 20 October 2011

The Blood Arm, Paris Suit Yourself, Great White Shark at Madame JoJo's - 18 October 2011

Paris Suit Yourself by Sebastien Dehesdin

I’m not sure that I like surprises.

What has caught me off guard is a previously unforeseen third band on tonight’s bill. This throws the timings out and will have implications later on in the evening.

The unexpected pleasure is Great White Shark, who hail from Berlin, but are originally from the UK. They illustrate how times and fashions change.

Fifteen years ago you couldn’t move for bands that sound a little bit like Oasis, a little bit Verve, a little bit Stone Roses. We used to sneer at these chancers and run them out of town on a rail.

Yet tonight, Great White Shark exhibit all of these tropes and sound fresh and (whisper it) pretty good. There is nothing here that hasn’t been heard before, but their skinny frontman knows what he’s doing (and throws a good rock star pose), while the band certainly understand the value of a catchy chorus.

There is nothing familiar about Paris Suit Yourself. A set that could have easily come unstuck because of massive, repeated and ridiculous technical problems becomes an unalloyed triumph, a performance that will live long in the memory.

The band come in all shapes and sizes, a foxy bassist, a cool keyboard player/guitarist, a semi naked tattooed drummer and the massively muscled and dreadlocked singer Luvinsky Atche, the sweat shining on his torso.

This is a primal performance that speaks to basic, animalistic emotions. It‘s all about drumming and rhythm and ritual. What is really impressive is that even though the microphones don’t work for much of the time, this is incorporated into the show, Atche filching mikes where he can from the other musicians and even at one point standing at the front of the stage and singing unamplified altogether, howling at the audience. He pants, yips and snorts as though expelling demons.

The percussion is relentless, including some proper honest to goodness drum solos. The bass line is immense and the combination recalls Doug Wimbish, Skip MacDonald and Keith LeBlanc and the heyday of Tackhead.

Towards the end of the set, Atche descends into the crowd, his body dripping with perspiration. He leads them in a frenzied dance that is wild and wonderful and completely unlike anything I’ve seen.

Paris Suit Yourself are unique and are heavily recommended.

This is all dandy and fine, but it does mean that headliners The Blood Arm come onstage horribly late.

Although perfectly clear, the sound mix seems wrong, with singer Nate Freguso almost inaudible behind the guitars and keyboards.

There is nothing wrong with tonight’s show, but I’ve been so spoiled by the Blood Arm over the years, with them always being exceptional, that when they are merely very good it seems a disappointment. This is of course a ludicrous state of affairs.

Time is against me and I have to leave half way through their set. I am told that I miss Freguso being mauled by a member of the crowd and Eddie Argos and chums getting up onstage for a drunken sing-along. Apparently things finally wind down at about 11.40. It’s very frustrating, and unusual for promoters White Heat, who generally run a slick operation.

However, I’d have been even more annoyed to have missed Paris Suit Yourself and I consider it an excellent evening.

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