Live at Cockpit on Saturday, 11th November 2006
Art Brut are undoubtedly one of the UK's finest musical treasures. Without exception when you first encounter Art Brut you will be forced to swing one or two ways - you will either 'get it' or you won't. There's no shame in not getting it per se. For Brut lead singer Eddie Argos has a style and vocal capacity that could in no uncertain terms be described as being to an acquired taste. You may dismiss them as being too cocky, arty or even flat out lacking the professional and sophisticated noose to be deemed anywhere near the clarification of "great band them".
If you were one of those people that blanked their superb debut album 'Bang Bang Rock N Roll' it may be time to give them another shot. Many people (including myself) wrote them off after a curious glance at such singles like 'Formed A Band' and 'Modern Art' but when it clicks into place (or if you got them in the first place, go you) Art Brut are indeed a band that you will love.
Tonight, after an absence from UK shores for a very extended period, Art Brut effortlessly glide into a set that has everything required to warrant such adulation. Eddie Argos is an absolute ingenious centrepiece. Not only during song with routines including the much maligned mic-lead skipping manoeuvre and full on alteration of the meaning behind 'Emily Kane' (more on that later) but the segways between songs almost exclusively provide laugh out loud moments, and how many shows have you been to where you could say that recently?
There's a huge shadow of quintessential Britishness about the band which is one of their most endearing attributes, hints of self depreciation and British humour that have remained practically untapped since the days of Pulp and The Smiths. To that effect Argos has definitely studied up at the Morrissey school for performing artists. Just little vocal, lyrical and physical nuances that combine to create a little honorary tribute to his unofficial mentor. Lyrical cuts from the new songs on display include "River deep and mountain high, there's some lyrics that will never apply/ because I don't lie awake at night thinking about river depth or mountain height" ('Post Soothing Out') and "older but wiser? This songs the decider / Is it the sound of a man wrestling with emotion or the sound of him losing and causing a commotion?" ('Nag Nag Nag Nag'), the new songs sound exclusively fresh and vibrant and would all sit perfectly happy on their debut record.
Negative thing or not, you decide...
Another notable aspect of the set was Argos' insistence on mixing up the old material with alterations in lyrics or time signatures. For instance 'Formed A Band' being given a fresh update in light of their advancement in years and 'Emily Kane' being completely turned on its head. Formerly about Argos' lovelorn longing for not getting over his girlfriend from when he was 15, transformed into an anti-love song about not doing exactly what is depicted on the record, and a heartfelt plea to, if you do find yourself in the same position, "Do not write a song about it!".
Art Brut are a formidable and exceedingly likeable indie-pop-punk outfit. A currently near unique experiment in mixing ultra bouncy, hook laden guitar parts with insightful, witty social insight, delivered by a frontman with unmatched talent to both hold the audiences attention and make them feel more in adoration with his band with every passing tale of love, lust, angst and appreciation for music. Art Brut may not have achieved their ultimate goal of headlining Top Of The Pops UK but with a sparkling brand new record on the horizon and a live show as good as this, they're sure to be Top of many people's Pops for a very long time to come.