On 21st February 2004 at 16:39 Anonymous 13 wrote...
a few more pictures from the gig at http://web.onetel.net.uk/~samsaunders/vine.htm
Live at The Vine on Friday, 20th February 2004
The intimate carpet, curtains and ceiling lights of the Vine's upstairs room dispense a surreal good humour to all who have entered the packed-out space, up here on the edge of abnormality.
The Old House are a wonderfully fresh, half finished student bedroom of a band. Terrible singing, and a wayward grip on timing do nothing at all to dampen the enthusiasm or the pleasure they communicate through clear, simple and genuinely creative guitar riffery. There's enormous potential here and no trace of either mumbling adolescent audience-avoidance or pretentious hip sneerdom. The Old House come from Wakefield, obviously. Their songs are direct and rattly, and each one has a great little repeated guitar phrase or two. I really go for set closer "The Way I Was". Expect to see and hear a lot more of Chris Billingham, Craig Newman, Matt Knee and Paul Reid.
The Grips are here from Nottingham to show us what a bit of performance savvy can do for us. Using two strings of a three string bass, double doses of adrenalin, and really threatening big muscle they colonise half the audience space, sometimes only leaving a drummer behind to hold the homeland stage. Five-handed though they are, the music is simple, meaty, loud and spot on. Bodies too close to the front scatter rapid style. Compared to the Yorkshire squaddy recruits of The Old House, it's like the Americans have landed. Gig hardened and self confident they beat themselves and menace us psychotically through punk-like tunes of very decent ferocity with dashes of harmony yelling. No garage dwelling bands anywhere should offer less than this. Nathan reminds me of early Mark Almond - only because a) he has a proper haircut and b) he works the audience like a pro. He actually looks much more like John Travolta in Grease. Except when he's crawling back to the stage through audience legs screaming deep love for the Axminster through a complaining pa.
Headlining tonight are the fragile Dido-esque tones of the neatly frocked Hayley Avron.
Hang on. Something wrong with the keyboard. Just talk among yourselves.
The Tennessee Traincrash are still spitting out fresh projectiles at the crack in the arse of rock and roll. Some hit, some miss, all land somewhere with a satisfying splat. My all-time favourites are "Magazine" and "Slut Fuck Fight", but all the tunes have a nadder-nadder-nadder guitar attack and a load of flailing drums. "Tennessee Flashback" also crackles well tonight.
Hayley is a pink concoction of hormones, pout and scowl - threatening all the vulnerable parts of the male anatomy (which doesn't leave much) - with a leary stare or a swinging headstock on a guitar-like missile launched at the front row. Taking a cue from The Grips, she has a lead-trailing wander through the massed ranks with a fairly clear non-verbal tongue message to a chosen one as she sweeps back round.
Mark's role as co-presenter and co-lead singer is important to the shape of things though. As a noisy minority Hayley get a a lot of attention - but without Mark as the foil and opposition, the set would enjoy much less dynamic tension.
The rawness and (is has to be said) the fragility of the Traincrash are big parts of the appeal. A slicker performance (a la reine de Garbage) would destroy it all. What we're looking for here is a way that this trio can be put on a bigger stage without them becoming a parody of themselves. Sort yourselves out Futuresound!
But back on planet punter, tonight was a night of money well spent, passions inflamed and musical satisfaction honestly given.