Live at Atrium on Thursday, 17th January 2008
The regular Tiny Cat nights at the Atrium have been going long enough now for them to be considered part of the Leodensian gigging furniture. Take nothing for granted, though; this true home of the D.I.Y. ethos is anything but comfortably predictable: it's a home to the brilliant and the bizarre in equal measure, but never the banal. Tonight's line-up proves is no exception.
First up is Adam John Miller, and the first impression as the crowd shuffle up the stairs towards the stage is that we've actually shuffled back in time to a Jesus & Mary Chain gig of mid-80s vintage. Gillespie-style stand-up drumming is provided courtesy of peripatetic sticksman, Eddy Downdime (whose efforts turn out to be the only live percussion we'll hear all night.) For now, however, we're in drone rock heaven. Adam himself, as his MySpace proclaims, "can't sing for toffee" but as we're subsumed in a blissful wave of guitar fuzz we really don't care.
The most memorable moment in this set turns out to be an up-to-the minute cover in the form of M.I.A.'s 'Paper Planes'. Adam has trouble with the words and a gent from the dancefloor takes a break from his one-man pogoing show to hold up the lyrics. It all adds to an ambience that's as home-made as the gingerbread we were given on the door, especially when said gent turns out to be the laptop operator and occasional trumpeter for the next act, Penny Broadhurst.
Admittedly the aforementioned Broadhurst was the main reason your correspondent was in attendance tonight, given her occasional national airplay and concomitant profile. It's surprising, then, to see her low down the bill and lacking an attentive audience. She's not fazed, however, and launches into an extremely creditable set with the lush vocal workout of 'Chemist Goods'. Disco-tinged offering 'Give It Up' is something of a highlight, and the anthem-in-waiting that is 'London' is an appropriate set-closer. Here's hoping that Ms Broadhurst's wry and melodic offerings are not so criminally overlooked by the next Leeds audience they encounter.
Kristofski Kabuki is the sort of utterly bizarre act that would probably not exist without nights like this. Some people, perhaps, would not be particularly upset if (in this instance) this were to be the case. However, one has to take a few smoothes with the rough as it were. To paraphrase Voltaire, I disagree with what he played, but will fight to the death to protect his right to play it. Eschewing pretension, on the other hand, this was a fat bloke wearing a bra and a furry tiger balaclava chuntering over the cheesy backing rhythms provided by an iPod plugged into the amps. Other people jumped up and down. Your correspondent slipped out onto the fire escape for a crafty fag.
Headlining tonight, appropriately enough for Tiny Cat, were the Bonsai Kittens. These are two girls with guitars with stage presence in spades. Unlike some of the earlier acts, they've got the banter down to a tee and, given that they're the only "band" playing tonight, they've got each other. Their songs are as witty as their inter-ditty badinage and, whilst they've resisted any temptation to hire a drummer in human form, they're totally in tune with their sequencer and certainly know how to churn out chiming electro-pop. The full crowd finally gather to hear tunes such as Geoffinately Maybe and Dressing Up Is Not for Dogs. Bassist Sarah ends up playing in bare feet, suspicious of the holes in the stage, but there were few holes in the set; this is humorous femtronica to the last. The crowd shuffle home with smiles on their faces and new friends on their arms. Tiny Cat = where it's at!