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- ¡Forward Russia! »
Three things were notable about this unnecessarily wet Wednesday night. The first was how short a set ¡Forward, Russia! played: they were only on stage for about twenty minutes. Which is all very well if you’re the first support band on a four band bill, but if you’re the only band on all night such brevity is likely to raise eyebrows…
’Tis fortunate, then, that the second point of interest is how very, very good FR were for the short time they graced us with their presence.* Less full-on than you might expect from a band who have such a militarily evocative name and who refer to their songs only by number, they’ve a clipped-yet-driving sound which allows plenty of room for all instruments to be played with pounding ferocity without getting in each others’ way. So you get a kind of spacious loudness, full of taut, bleak impact and leaving plenty of opportunity for Proper Tunes to rear their heads here and there. Their sound veers up and down in intensity with plenty of dramatic pauses and moments of soft tension in between the straightforward rock, the affected (sometimes to the point of operatic…) vocals of frontman Tom pleasingly set off by the barked shout of the backing-vocals. The instrumental three-quarters of the band are largely motionless during the set, leaving the audience to focus on Tom’s amazing feats of mic lead escapology: throughout the gig he wraps the lead around his neck and arms until he’s so tangled I’d swear he’ll need to be cut loose… and then all of a sudden he’s free! I’d not even noticed him start to untangle himself... How does he do that?
¡Forward, Russia! have the kind of polished intensity and innovation which made it feel slightly incongruous to be watching them with so sparse a crowd: I suspect that next time they return to Cambridge the ante will have been upped somewhat…
*The third notable thing about this evening was my finding a postcard bearing the legend “CAUTION: PUFFINS. Pimps. Hustlers. Gangsters. Scum.” But I do appreciate that this isn’t entirely relevant.
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