Friday 2 November 2012

Katzenjammer at Islington Academy - 31 October 2012


It’s Halloween. A night of horrible fun and light hearted nastiness.

I’ve already seen an impressive Jason/ Pinhead hybrid on the tube. He’s tall and menacing and carries a sword. He gets to have any train seat that he wants.

As we enter the venue, the first act is already onstage. You’d think that he was in costume. But he’s not.

Ben Caplan hides a very basic act behind a riot of grey facial hair. When Edward Lear wrote of a man with a beard, Caplan took notes. Every meal the man ever ate must be in there somewhere.

Caplan’s act is simplicity itself. There is a certain amount of folksy charm and a whole lot of all-join-in-the-chorus call and response stuff. If there is a rhyme all night that is more subtle than moon-June-spoon I don’t hear it.

Ben Caplan is likeable enough. Indeed, being likeable IS his act. But it is so lowest common denominator undemanding stuff that he could probably do this with his eyes shut.

A confession. Last time I saw Katzenjammer, I couldn’t warm to them. They were clearly good, but I just couldn’t feel it. I’m here to give myself a second chance.

In the spirit of the season, the band come onstage sporting a variety of false moustaches. It looks really weird. But then Katzenjammer are rather a weird beast.

Theirs is a musical chimera of Scandinavian folk, American country music and Weimar cabaret. It’s rather a queasy mix and some of it works and some of it doesn’t.

That’s actually a lie. There is nothing that Katzenjammer do that is not well executed and completely spot on. I genuinely like them...

...but not here, not tonight.

This is a soulless rectangular box full of people. This band should be enjoyed in a dark, comfortable bar, preferably with me zonked out on expensive brandy.  In the harsh confines of the Islington Academy, I’m too uncomfortable to relax into the band. Everything seems strained and forced. After half an hour I leave.

I've tried twice with Katzenjammer and both times have failed to enjoy it for reasons that I can't really fathom. It really is a case of 'it's not them, it's me.'

As I pass through Angel tube station, a young girl is being attended to by paramedics. A young man is having hysterics and is being physically restrained from throwing himself upon them as they try to revive her. It is one of the most upsettingly horrible things I’ve ever seen.

Happy Halloween.

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