Live at Cockpit on Sunday, 11th May 2003
The Mooney Suzuki in Leeds. The Mooney who?! Luckily, a few raw enthusiasts for this New York beat combo managed to rustle up a crowd barely reaching a hundred, a real shame for a band whose live reputation back in the USA is huge. A band, back on their home turf, command the sort of debate of 'who is the best' The Strokes or The Mooney Suzuki. Tonight they played to a crowd of interested but none the wiser music lovers. What we all received was a gig of such mind-blowing proportions; grey matter gets splattered all over the walls.
First up, were The Capital Years, a band from Philadelphia, USA. They opened up with some reasonable tunes, in the cool Nu-Wave Strokes style, but as if this was about as interesting as the band may get, things go crazy. All the band start blowing out nonsensical psychobabble, the crowd's attention is fixed, then bang, great tunes galore. Retro blasted frantic R&B rave-ups with big chords and big tunes. Suddenly the Strokes are booted out, and the great American tradition of primitive rock'n'roll is in, about time too.
I've known about the Mooney Suzuki since about 2001, when Estrus released their People Get Ready LP. An instantly impressive debut full of great retro style mod tunes, but now Columbia have signed them up and they're over here in the UK promoting they're latest release, Electric Sweat. A fuzzed up, deep-fried, monster of an album, finger licking, ass kicking. At 9.30pm they prowl onto the stage, all in black, and debauchery begins.
Sammy James Junior, the enigmatic front man, wrap-around shades, whirlwind arm rhythm guitar master, stirs the shit for rock'n'roll, a true believer. Tunes blaze by, a riot of fuzz, sweat and snot, the real deal. On lead guitar, the super-athletic lunatic Graham Tyler, rushes into the crowd, trying to whip up the punters into a bacchanal frenzy. He rolls around the floor, leaps to impossible heights, surfs the crowd and still plays those delicious licks and riffs as if his fingers are welded to his axe. A born superstar, his long locks a shaking.
The Mooney Suzuki; a nod to 'The Who', a dash of 'Otis Redding', a huge pinch of the 'MC5', even a touch of The Clash, but a righteous noise totally their own, maximum R&B. Tunes rip by; Electric Sweat, In A Young Man's Mind, Oh Sweet Suzannah, and the one I've been waiting to hear, Half My Heart. A bastard offspring of Louie Louie played at manic speed. I'm in heaven, or is it hell, yeah; I'm burning with voodoo rhythms. The lyric from the tune Singin' a Song About Today, sums it up: "I'm not talking about tomorrow, Cause tomorrow may never come, I'm not talking about yesterday, Baby, yesterday is gone, Singing a song about right now, Singing a song about today, We say alright, We say OK."
Mooney Suzuki live for the moment, as all great rock'n'roll should. Simply put, it's the best live gig I've ever seen in Leeds. Four New York fairies sprinkling the dust of possibility into a gob smacked audience. When they leave the stage, the crowd have none of it. The band gets mobbed, so back to the stage. No! They actually get on top of the speakers, risking life and limb, to live for the moment, ecstasy. 100 people witness this a great event, shame on those who missed the best gig Leeds has seen for years.