Live at Stylus on Sunday, 19th November 2006
Transgressive hasn't half done well for itself. Just a casual glance at the arsenal of bands at their disposal tonight to showcase to a global audience displays that. A global audience you say? Surely it's just for the pleasure of the few hundred punters liberally distributed amongst the inner workings of the labyrinth that is Leeds University? Well that would be false. Tonight's show is to be broadcast via the medium of the interweb and what a, in theory, great idea it is. Pay a subscription fee and you have access to the bands that subscribe to the website. The gig is broadcast using a rather elaborate virtual theatre featuring the bands as near Lego characters (avatars) prancing around on stage and allowing the viewers to chat at will to fellow 'gig' goers. God forbid that this should ever become the norm in live music but for people in the Congo, I'm sure they're loving the fact they can watch Polytechnic from thousands of miles away.
Although saying that, I'm 20 feet away, and I'm not. Polytechnic are basically a very drab MOR indie band that will attract drab, middle aged fans. The viewers at home must have been slapping their computers with contempt for fear the screens had frozen on account of the band not moving an inch for the entire set. Not one memorable tune, not one memorable hook. Polytechnics died out in 1992, so should this one.
Battle too appear to have stumbled upon a rather large obstacle they can't traverse. Emerging at least 18 months ago with the majestic intelligent, astute lyricism and unmistakable riffage of 'Tendency', recent mini-album release 'Back To Earth' was a real letdown in terms of the quality of songs. Live too, lead singer Jason Bavanandan hasn't progressed in any notable way.
He still appears slightly dormant and cut off from the audience, eyes wired shut for the duration. Battle's saving grace is the fact they've manufactured a great sound, but bar the odd exceptions ('Tendency', 'Children') Battle are yet to hit top marks for quality of songwriting.
Larrikin Love however have the songs already and know how to create an atmosphere. It seems many in attendance are here mainly for Edward Larrikin and his Larrikin Love. They are a rather special band, it's hard to describe exactly what and where their niche is but it's definitely there. It's like indie for Rag & Bone men. A knees up, cockney attitude to rival the synths and electronics of their contemporary indie upstarts. Dispensing of the keyboard et al for more organic means of making noise. Opening with album opener 'Six Queens' and relaying a fair chunk of their rather grand debut record, Larrikin Love continue to impress and appear to have really hit their live zenith. With their ho-down initiating one minute racket opening into trademark track 'Happy As Annie' the crowd are well and truly quenched of all the Larrikin you can take.
The Young Knives are the band that take band of the night however. They just look like they've been kicked pillar to post around shitty bands for most of their adult lives and now, having upped the geek factor, upped the oddness quota and written some killer, quirky indie hits, they've finally found their calling. Po-faced vocalist Henry Dartnall continues to rip the piss out of a noticeably mildly intoxicated House Of Lords for the duration of the 30 minute set as the likes of 'Part Timer', 'The Decision' and the mighty 'She's Attracted Too' ring around the venue with much aplomb and the crowd sing the near nonsensical lyrics directly back. A brief dip in form as a result of a couple of B-sides fails to dampen a great set from everyone's favourite least likely to.
Believe it or not The Mystery Jets were tonight's special guests (wasn't too hard to guess was it? They are arguably the biggest band on the label after all). Having paid only a passing interest in their recorded offerings it wasn't exactly an enticing set, but if anything they at least encouraged those not too fussed either way by the equally quirky Londoners to pay more than a passing glance in their direction. 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis' and at least one more song towards the end of the set being great examples of finely and uniquely crafted time signatures.
All in all, the night very much did its job and with throwing in some nice technological experiments it could even be a window into the future not only for British music but for the way we all enjoy live music, but in the latter's case, let's hope not too much eh?