Monday 24 June 2013

The Virgins and Gentlemen at The Old Blue Last - 20 June 2013

The Virgins

The ladies are in the audience. Gentlemen are on the stage. At this early part of the evening the ladies are few in number whereas Gentlemen are the extremely difficult to Google support band.

These guys are long, slim and handsome in bright, tight-fitting shirts, skinny trousers and big hair. These guys are rockers.

They play an easy on the air psychedelic rock music and go down well in the room. It's a shame that more people didn't come up the stairs to see them, because they fit in very comfortably with the vibe of tonight's headliners.

By the time The Virgins arrive, the room is packed. It's really hot in here, a marked contrast to the first time that I saw the band on a minus eleven February day in New York in 2007.

It's been a while since the band have visited these shores yet welcome familiarity floods back as soon as genial front man Donald Cumming starts speaking. His is one of the more distinctive voices in all of rock, an amused and genteel adenoidal tone.

To untrained UK ears bands from the US sound…American. But The Virgins hail from New York and sound like that city, unmistakeably, through and through.

The band are promoting their new album 'Strike Gently' and it continues where their self-titled debut left off. And like that previous record, it is targeted like a missile at the love parts of every woman in the room.

The Virgins can make women dance like no rock band that I've ever seen. Donald calls out to them, praises them, winks and smiles. It's genuine and warm and not bogus or creepy. The band's music is a loping guitar and bass heavy funk that bumps and grinds against your hips, gives you a little nudge and invites you to dance.

As the new album has not yet really landed in the UK, it is the older songs that get the biggest response. Incredibly the audience sing along with their favourites in their entirety. 'Rich Girls' becomes a happy communal chant with the throng singing not just the chorus, but the verses and the off-the-cuff vocal asides too. This is real worship and affection.

I shuffle and groove with the best of them. I see a couple of lads try and hit on a pair of young women gyrating in front of me. They get rebuffed, but everyone is smiling, no harm, no foul.

The evening comes to a rather abrupt end dead on 10.30. It seems to catch everyone by surprise, including the band. 

The Virgins are a safe bet, a home run, a cast iron guarantee. You'll have a good time - and ladies will dance.

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