Sunday 3 April 2011

The Kills and S.C.U.M. at Heaven - 31 March 2011

Kills pic by Cathrinesylvester
Some bands can really exasperate you. I‘m in Heaven tonight and am delighted to see that the support band are S.C.U.M. I’ve followed this mob for the past few years, but for every kudo I can give them for being a genuinely excellent live band, they lose one for being wilful, deliberately obscure and mysterious. S.C.U.M. have remained true to their early ideals in that they have barely released any material and rarely sully themselves with the business of playing live. So tonight they are in the relatively unfamiliar position of playing to someone else’s audience, in a more or less conventional venue. This means that we don’t get the full on theatrics such as mock crucifixions or bee keeping veils but instead an epic sweeping flourish of a performance that is just right for this crowd. They are, as ever, magnificently kitted out. Not since Spandau Ballet (who are partially being channelled here) has a band paid so much attention to the cloth that they are cut from. Singer Thomas Cohen is resplendent in a loose white suit, tightly fitting waistcoat and black boater. He is as thin and sharp as a whip, draping himself louchely around the stage as though he were the Great Gatsby. This New Romantic glamour is reflected in their music, a heady 80’s amalgam of Bunnymen grandeur, Mary Chain fuzz and Duran Duran fashion pop. All these influences are here, Moulinexed into a dreamy, blurry wash of sound. S.C.U.M. are seriously great tonight. We are lucky this evening to find the headliners at such a small venue. The Kills have already booked the Roundhouse to promote their new album ‘Blood Pressures’ and at the time of writing it is by no means clear whether one night there will be sufficient. Small venue, new album, renewed vigour. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are absolutely terrific tonight – as hard as nails, as sharp as a razor and clearly loving every moment of it. The Kills play for well over an hour and barely put a foot wrong. They patrol the stage like a pair of all conquering warriors. Nothing is left to chance, not a jolt of energy is wasted. It is interesting how their songs have become lighter and faster since their first album. As a rule of thumb, the older tracks like ‘Kissy Kissy’ are slower and thuddingly powerful whereas the newer material is wirier and leaner. Both sound great, but the distinction can be drawn. Strangely, the only really false note of the evening is the dreadful leaden skank of new track ‘Satellite’ which sounds like something that Mosshart brought back with her from her stint in Jack White’s rather underwhelming and flat Dead weather. Fortunately, this is a passing aberration. Everything else tonight is exemplary and shows the band to be at the top of their game. They finish with a triumphant ‘Fried My Little Brains’. Not half they haven't.

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