Friday 18 July 2008

Metro Week: The Duloks, Rochelle, Attack + Defend, Les Gars

This is the second night in the Metro in a row.

I’m feeling flush because I’ve just offloaded two Ladytron tickets to a tout for the princely sum of a fiver. NB: There were special circumstances – these were tickets that had been used at the previous Astoria gig which was halted because of technical difficulties. There are many rumours about how long Ladytron played that night, but I certainly felt as though I had pretty much got my money’s worth when they ground to a halt and tonight’s rearranged gig clashes with my other plans. But generally kids, stay away from the nasty tout man.

Entering a largely empty Metro, I find Canada’s Les Gars in full effect. I’m impressed with this three piece power trio, who genuinely ROCK and are clearly slumming in a place and time slot such as this. Singer/guitarist Vello Verder has black shades and throws his guitar around like a seasoned pro. The bassist too is much more dynamic than many of his ilk, leaping about and acting as foil. They remind me of a much rawer sounding Ash, which is no bad thing at all. They have a song called ‘Minimum Wage’- wow! Social commentary! Joking aside, Les Gars have got a residency down here, and are worth checking out.

The three Thomas brothers, aka Attack and Defend have come here from Cardiff at the behest of the headliners. Their set is riotous, with multiple instrument changes, mechanical failure and singer Mark chatting non-stop, rolling on the floor and generally being very deadpan and very funny. Plus they have a key-tar, which is always good for larks. Their actual music is good too, and you can discern a kind of gentle psychedelia in tracks such as ‘Fascinated By Trees’. I would definitely defend rather than attack them. (Hangs head in shame at last sentence). Highly recommended.

I’ve seen Rochelle before, but I don’t remember them being quite as good as they are this evening. They are unlike many of the other bands on this gig circuit, and I wonder whether they should be concentrating on other arenas.

Their ideal milieu would be to play to a crowded dance floor in some drippingly hot nightclub somewhere around the Mediterranean. This is pure and genuine Euro-disco dance music, and it is immaculately performed by singer Lydia, who emotes as though her heart is breaking. The whole room throbs to their beat and the temperature seems to rise.

They don’t seem to have a weakness and, ending their set with the phenomenal track ‘Fer De Lance,’ would seem to have their futures mapped out. If they can just get out of lightly populated rooms such as this.

The Duloks are an uncategorisable act that have to be experienced live. Although they are nominally three girls playing keyboards and a mini drum kit, doing songs and singing and all that, what you get is a semi improvised troupe who are more fun than a bouncy castle and a big helping of jelly and ice cream afterwards.

Mira, Mina and Mar have decreed it to be ‘MC Hammer’ night, and are dressed up as the erstwhile huge-panted star of ‘You Can’t Touch This’ and literally several other videos back in the Eighties. Two of the girls are sporting moustaches, which are actually kind of cute.

Mira, a winning and instinctive comedienne, interacts with the crowd constantly, and seems to know most of them by name. A particular target is a young man who has allegedly promised them a trip to Dubai. Much pleading ensues, together with promises not to get arrested and beheaded.

Although much of the set is punctuated with several MC Hammer inspired skits and impromptu dancing, the Duloks do occasionally play songs that they may have actually rehearsed, including the excellent ‘Boom Boom’, 'Not My Scissors, Not My Sock' and the cautionary ‘Bad Vegetarian’, which chides the listener not to eat fish because it has a face. Just because songs are bubblegum confections doesn’t stop them from being good songs.

Purists will no doubt frown upon the Duloks as being very silly. Which they are. Purists can fuck right off. As they say themselves, it may be unfair on the other bands that something as daft as the Duloks get top billing, but then life isn’t fair. It's great entertainment though.

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