Tuesday 31 January 2012

FOE and Fever Fever at Camden Barfly - 30 January 2012

Fever Fever

Having forgone a gig last week due to indisposition, I’m delighted to almost immediately have the chance to catch up with one of the bands that I missed.

I’m primarily here this evening to catch Fever Fever, about whom I have heard great things. They are bottom of the bill. On tonight’s evidence, this is not a position that they are going to have to put up with for very much longer.

I’ve long loved bands from Norwich. There’s something in the water out there that produces a steady stream of spiky, shouty, fascinating and fun performers. Kaito, Bearsuit, Hyper Kinako, The Kabeedies, Violet Violet…and now Fever Fever.

This three piece take you right back to the punk scene of the late Seventies. Rosie and Ellie generate a loud, thrashy, primitive and compelling guitar noise, ably supported by Smit’s crashing drums.

And they are angry. The two girls sing/shout back and forth, their eyes blazing with intensity. There are echoes of bands like The Slits or Delta 5, bands who sang about REAL STUFF and not just feelings.

They produce so much passion when they play that it is quite a contrast when they speak between songs and are gentle and relaxed and happy to see a busy venue.

I fall instantly in love with Fever Fever, buy armfuls of merchandise and put them in my diary for further appearances.

Calling yourself Yehan Jehan & Antimatter People is a statement of intent right from the off. There are no half measures about this band, particularly in regard to appearance.

Yehan Jehan and co are hell bent on recreating the very English psychedelica of the early Pink Floyd. I’ve no problem with that. They do it very well. They also lean occasionally towards the epic guitar sound and “in maa maaand” platitudes of the Verve, for which of course they should be drowned in a bag. Or mildly reprimanded at any rate.

The attention to detail is best exemplified by Jehan’s hair, which is a vast circular globe of curls that eclipses his face and is frankly worth the price of admission on its own.

Songs are complicated, often broken into distinct movements packed with organ swirls or backward tape loops. Jehan thrusts his guitar around energetically and it is just a pity that somehow the whole is less than the sum of these parts.

It may be because the voice is not particularly strong or that the songs don’t seem quite there just yet. The paradox is that it is only because the band are so close to being great that these shortfalls are apparent. There are flashes of genius here, but the band only really take off when they do some extended wigging out on their final number.

However, it’s early days yet. Yehan Jehan & Antimatter People are worth keeping a (third) eye on.

I hadn’t intended to review FOE again. After all, I saw them only three weeks ago at the beginning of this tour, which ends tonight.

But this performance is extraordinary. What was at the beginning of the month a small kitten playing with a ball of wool has evolved into a gigantic sabre-toothed turbo-tiger that just rips your head off.

The transformation wrought by a month of solid gigging is total.

At the Bull & Gate, Hannah Clark and her band were good, but very insular – the sound barely left the stage and they seemed far more wrapt in each other than in the audience.

In contrast tonight we are subjected to a wall of guitars and enough raw power to light every home in Camden. Although these are the same songs as before, they have grown from sparse tunes picked out on a keyboard to eardrum rattling anthems. An incredible transformation.

Clark is centre stage and engaged throughout. Her voice is a wonderful bratty, slurry rasp that reminds me of the accent that old women employ when talking with their cats. In the rock and roll context, this is totally a Good Thing.

A quiet night out on a Monday to ease myself into gigs again? Not likely!

1 comment:

Keith Knight said...

Hmm, I think referring to the word genius in respect of Yehan Jehan is pushing it somewhat, unless you're referring to the hair. As someone who knows a good early Floyd wig-out when he hears one, we were a long way from it this night. But Fever Fever and FOE were both fine indeed.