Saturday 13 February 2010

Miike Snow, Music Go Music, We Have Band at ULU - 11 February 2010

Music Go Music "Explorers of the Heart" from Music Go Music on Vimeo.

There was a band back in the early Eighties that had huge world-wide success, but almost no cool, even at the time. Nowadays, if they are remembered at all, it is for silly hair. They were the Thompson Twins (and I’m thinking of the three piece line up of the ‘Quickstep and Sidekick’ era rather than the earlier nine piece roving circus of ‘Set’) and I hadn’t given them any thought for around two decades. Until now.

I’m at ULU and I am watching We Have Band, a trio who major on electronic percussion, slap bass and the kind of hair that Wesley Snipes had. They are dressed in white, they bang drums and rattle tambourines and their music seem less like songs than extended jams with sporadic, often inaudible vocals. What works on record doesn’t really come across very well live this evening, partly I think, because of an unhelpful sound mix, but also because their output seems fundamentally muddled.

However, they are energetic and improve as they go on. By the end of the set they’ve got love love love on their side.

I’m actually here tonight because the next act, Music Go Music, sold out their scheduled gig at the Lexington, and have relocated here. They couldn’t quite relocate to the top of the bill, but never mind.

The band troop onto a stage decorated with a precariously balanced roman column and statue. They plug in and blow all their power with the first chord. Cue five minutes of fiddling about and singer Meredith wittering away completely inaudibly. A bunch of drunks next to me start whistling and cat calling. It’s an inauspicious start.

However, with this hiccup out of the way MGM proceed to deliver a set of such pounding pure pop magnificence that a thrill that runs through you as you watch them. The thrill of knowing that there is no better place on earth to be than right here and right now.

Meredith is as ever beaming so brightly that you would have to shield your eyes. The guitarist and bassist (or ‘Steely Dan’ as a friend calls them) take turns in out-soloing and riffing off each other.

With just one album behind them Music Go Music already sound like a band playing Greatest Hits. Not necessarily their own. Their sound is rooted in ABBA and disco and Seventies kitsch. It is homage rather than pastiche, and is sure footed and celebratory rather than ironic or knowing.

Their set passes by in a warm whirl of happiness. The critical drunks from earlier are holding each other up and stomping and roaring along with tears in their eyes. I now firmly believe that if we could somehow squeeze the entire global population into this small space and let them experience MGM doing ‘Explorers of the Heart’ that we could rid the world of the evils of poverty, famine, cancer and David Cameron.

The band troop off to tumultuous approval and I collapse limp but happy.

The headliners tonight are Miike Snow, a band about whom I know very little other that they have blossomed from relative obscurity to the crest of mega-stardom in such a short period of time that they are the musical equivalent of an algal bloom that suddenly chokes rivers and estuaries.

The band come onto stage with their faces hidden by inexpressive white masks. Synthesisers rev and light beams pierce the swirling dry ice. A singer emerges, also masked, but with his beard sticking out the bottom, which slightly undermines the effect. When did you last see a Cyberman with a goatee?

He sings in a high falsetto. The band thrum behind him. It’s a little bit Royskopp and a whole lot of Coldplay, with all the good and bad that that may imply.

So what we have is tuneful but vacant synth pop that is custom-built for large arenas. Within two songs I’m wondering what the position is these days on waving cigarette lighters at a band, what with the smoking ban and all. You can almost hear the scramble of advertising executives and sports montage compilers jockeying to use these compositions to hawk their wares.

The masks are soon discarded and the band proceeds to rock out, in a tasteful and controlled manner. The crowd love it, but it’s all a little bland for me.

It’s been a really enjoyable evening. Music Go Music have cemented themselves in my heart as a band that needs to be savoured at every opportunity. We Are Detective, sorry, We Have Band, have stirred memories long dormant. Miike Snow will not be seen in venues as small as this for very much longer. A good result all round.


Keith Knight said...

Steely Dan proof here:

Wyldman said...