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- Regent Hall, London »
- The Evens »
Having 'invented'? Straight Edge and with Dischord Records' community-minded goodwill, Ian Mackaye has been characterised somewhat as the Harold Bishop of hardcore - good natured and useful, but pious, asexual and very badly dressed. Despite taking place in a Salvation Army hall, tonight's gig is an education to anyone doubting the fun in his music.
Indeed the all seated nature of the show does seem to play upon some of your biggest fears of how it could all turn out - Mackaye up on dais, preaching to the converted, in this case Fugazi/Minor Threat/Embrace/Egghunt/etc fans - the space between the songs is filled with tirades against Bush, Regent Street's Temple of Apple and rampant commercialism in its many forms. However, unlike the barked sloganeering of his younger self, the matured Ian of The Evens has a poetic, witty turn of phrase, an admirable way with words, with songs built upon deft metaphors linking the personal and political.
Importantly, though, this isn't just an Ian Mackaye show. Sharing lead vocals and providing brilliant rhythmic accompaniment is Amy Farina, formerly of The Warmers. Being life-partners seems to have brought a lot of the sensitivity in their music to the fore. While Fugazi are far from macho, Ian's frequent, surprisingly beautiful falsetto still comes as something of a shock. Another effect it seems to have is in the sensuousness of some of the instrumental passages. Along with That Fucking Tank, The Evens are a fantastic advert for the potential of the Baritone guitar, alternating between plucked bass lines and chunky strumming, both entwined with Amy's delayed drums. It doesn't sound in the slightest incomplete, but perfectly crafted and realised. Like a more bijou, better performed version of Fugazi's debut EP, loaded, crucially, with an obscene amount of hooks; every song has a brilliant melody, lyric and rhythm in there.
The Evens' biggest headlining gig in their short history is memorable for all the right reasons. At a time when even Radiohead are choosing to play V, Mackaye tutoring a church full of punks and indie kids through a mass sing-along is both inspired and inspirational.
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