Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Deap Vally and The Death Rays of Ardilla at Sebright Arms - 10 September 2012

Deap Vally pic from You Aint No Picasso


It’s an awful word when applied to music. For me, it is never about a slavish dedication to detail, or even about a band ‘paying its dues’ (which is another nebulous concept). For me it’s about belief. Whether I, as a punter, believe in you, the band.

There are two acts playing tonight. One that is less fashionable and relatively unsung and another that is accomplished, image conscious and have already ‘arrived’ (and that is yet another extremely subjective piece of terminology).

First up, on the tiny stage of the Sebright Arms, are The Death Rays of Ardilla. Google research links me back to a novel written by Captain W E Johns, better known as the author of the Biggles books.  As far as taking your name from works of literature, this is not as cool as calling yourself ‘Heaven 17’ or ‘The Doors’. But it does seem appropriate.

TDROA ( as Twitter has them) are a two piece from Sheffield. Nick Tietzsch-Tyler plays drums and his brother Thom, clad in black leather jacket, clutches a guitar and sings gruffly.

Theirs is not a revolutionary sound. They are a very basic and deliberately old-fashioned heavy rock band. They are relatively dour and not much prone to spectacular displays of showy stage craft. Yet I like them rather a lot.

The pair have a genuine ‘take us as you find us’ respectability. They ask us to buy their record so that they can afford to get back to Sheffield. Is this true? Probably not, but it FEELS right.

Towards the end of their short set the brothers play a rattling version of Screaming Lord Sutch’s signature tune ‘Jack The Ripper’. TDROA invest this track with more weight than the late Lord ever did.

I last saw Deap Vally just over a week ago on the main stage at 1234 Shoreditch. Lindsey Troy (guitars and rawk growl) and Julie Edwards (drums and back up vocals) were in their element. Entertaining a crowd, banging out some bluesy rock numbers, encouraging spectators to get naked and generally being everything a good festival act should be.

So why is it that tonight they leave me cold? It’s a very indefinable thing. The music is fine, they engage with the audience, they look the part.

My problem is this concept of ‘authenticity’. I don’t believe in them. They seem superficial and fake. I don’t expect them to overdose on heroin before my eyes or carve ‘4 Real’ on their arms, but I can’t get past a feeling that this is like Janis Joplin sung by the cast of ‘Glee’ – technically correct but somehow ersatz.

It’s the diaphanous difference between an act that has a genuine spark about them and one that will usually never get beyond their local bar. I don’t dislike Deap Vally, they seem like good people. But I can’t suspend disbelief while they are on.

It’s been an interesting evening and it has given me plenty to ponder. My views are diametrically opposite to those of the rest of my party. However, I must admit that if the two bands playing tonight had swapped places on the bill, it would have been more to my taste.

You decide.

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