Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Pins, Drop Out Venus, John J Presley at Roundhouse Studios -24 February 2013

Pins pic courtesy of Neil at Wildblanket

I don’t normally venture out on a Sunday. It should be an evening for dozing on the sofa digesting a heavy lunch. But certain gigs demand that exceptions are made.

I love the Roundhouse Studio. I’ve never had a bad experience here and the sound mix and back projections make every band look like superstars.

On entry, the room is dark and the screens flicker with black and white images of medical experiments. On stage, a stern faced girl is twiddling with a battery of electronic equipment to produce a sparse and unforgiving barrage of sound.

This is Female Band (aka Anastasia Vtorova) and while she’s perfectly fine, this kind of grimness was a cliché even back in the days of Throbbing Gristle and SPK. For once I’d like to see harsh noise accompanied by a montage of kittens and puppies in a basket. With a ribbon.

Next up is John J Presley, a swaggering blues rocker who is actually a bit of a pussycat on the quiet. He is joined by a keyboard player and a drummer and together they pound along nicely, each song showcasing Presley’s prowess with guitar.

I like what I see. John J is an enjoyable front man and his is a version of rock music that is not a slavish imitation of others but just a good honest sound that is tuneful to the ear and prone to set your head nodding along. I can get behind this approach, so I buy his CD and am content.

Tonight is a kind of anniversary for me. It was about a year ago that I first saw Drop Out Venus at this venue. It’s been a wild adventure ever since.

The band have been comparatively quiet in recent months and tonight sees them unveil the fruits of their labour.

It’s virtually a completely new set. Iva Moscovitch is glammed up to the nines, slinking around the stage in a shimmering blue/black dress. The new songs (all titles are approximate) seem to marry the usual themes of sex and power, but the addition of a keyboard allows Moscovitch an outlet for her softer, more vulnerable side – although she’s still as ferocious as hell.

There is a quite extraordinary new song which features Iva writhing and girating while spitting out “I’m sexy!” as though it were the vilest curse imaginable. It’s a sight to behold.  “Dance to Death(?)” is almost poppy, until the tune descends into squalls of guitar noise courtesy of Chris.

One of the very few old songs to get an airing is “Love+Desire” and it is still as raw and painful as an open wound.

If I had never seen this band before, I would be amazed. Seeing them for the past year feels like a privilege.

And then the icing on the cake is that headliners Pins are ace too. They are an all girl band from Manchester and they already sound hugely confident and accomplished, the real deal.

They are a bit shoegazey, a bit dreamy but crucially, really powerful and possessed of massive songs. They build up a mesmerising momentum that just transfixes you. They remind me rather a lot of the first time that I saw Ride- it’s the sheer epic-ness of their sound that surprises.

Singer Faith peers out from under her black fringe with the eyes of a predator, Lois and Anna smile at each other and know that all is good.

It’s been a tremendous almost-miss-the-last-train-home type of gig. What a night! 

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