Live at Joseph's Well on Monday, 23rd January 2006
With the gloom of winter still maintaining its depressing stranglehold, a night of typically eclectic ensembles at Josephs Well is the only beacon of light on a bitter Monday night. As first band Clown Around Town mount the stage the apprehension has steadfastly set in, beads of sweat cascade down my forehead, possibly due to the dufflecoat a January night has induced. Or more likely the spectacle of witnessing a band, even my armchair bound slipper wearing father would happily discredit.
The set begins in earnest as the group stagger into a diluted fusion of pop - conformists Stereophonics prolonged wailing guitars, and the warblings of a possibly comatose Robert Smith meets Placebo. However any comparisons to the cult genius of Cure are merely ironic. But maybe my assumptions are too hasty as a middle-aged crowd of fresh from the office darlings and what appear to be the bands screaming hoard of girlfriends, are experiencing something different entirely. Somehow I'm caught in the moment, my distain for the horrifying gaul of attempting a set-ending Buzzcock's cover is allayed by a subtle head nod. Sadly for them Clown Around Town will never rise from the mediocrity of a Monday night, however I sense the adulation of an adoring female rabble for the aging quintet will happily suffice.
The North East hasn't had much to smile about in the past decade with Newcastle United's erratic league form and PJ's blinding in Byker Grove, these have certainly being harrowing times. However the recent resurgence in the area's music reminiscent of the Leeds and Sheffield explosion, must surely be delighting our friends in the North. And it is in the same vein as the witty retorts of festival kings Maximo Park and dance-floor fillers The Futureheads, that provides much promise for second band The Motorettes. To much dismay the already fragmented crowd has now dwindled to around twenty, which somewhat detracts from the skilled offering of infectious rock fun that the band ooze from every orifice. The Motorettes keep it simple, the dirty skull cracking drum which typified 2005, ballsy lightening quick guitar and the repetitive scream of the single word choruses. So It comes as no surprise that these plucky Tynesiders have been snapped up by Kitchenware Records home of pop's most depressing imports Editors.
The band may appear as the poor mans Futureheads, sorry I'll rephrase that Futureheads for the more discerning shopper spending his last tenner on ten Marlboro Lights, two cans of Red Stripe and enough change to buy a single from a tight and melodic trio of Northerners. If that description encapsulates you, then firstly you're a student, and secondly the band's new single 'Super Heartbeats' has found its way onto the music store shelves this week. On another night the Ramones meets Shirelles delights on display could have whirled a more receptive audience into a frenzy, maybe just having any kind of a sizeable audience at all may have helped.
The evening draws to a close with London outfit Morning Lane, who are obviously as disheartened by the number of spectators on show as I am. It's hard to pigeon-hole this lot, I mean how do you describe a portly frontman bashing out hearty soulful crys before switching into the dirty grime of his Hackney origins. It's never-the-less intriguing and the handful of remaining onlookers are treated to bittersweet melodies which temporarily remove from us from the doldrums of winter and elevate us to a sunny day in Hyde Park sucking on a Solero. Again it appears a matter of wrong time, wrong place however the knowledgeable elite still on show can only be enthused by the raw John Squire-esque guitar and staggering harmonies. Boots could hope to cash in on the pounding drum, which could produce fights on the aisles for stocks of Otex if these boys ever do more than skirt the peripheries of mainstream success. The set continued with the burning sound of seventies London becoming more apparent in tracks such as 'Peter Pan', still entertaining with the conflict of garage rhymes against the growling guitar backdrop. As the final song drowns in the speakers and I head out into the enveloping mist of this freezing Monday, I'm at least warmed by the feeling that this eccentric blend of genres are doing their own thing and not giving the proverbial Yorkshireman's Arctic 'Monkeys chuff' who likes it.