ComanechiEdit this event
We arrive at the tail end of Panther's set, and to be frank this isn't a disappointment. Art-karaoke? Perhaps. Awful? Unfortunately, from the brief snippet we hear, yes. Still, both the bands that follow are keen to wax lyrical about his abilities so we'll reserve judgement. On the other hand, we can safely say that Comanechi are unequivocally bad tonight.
The ideas are certainly there, with frantic Black Flag riffage meeting the pretensions of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but the first twenty minutes of the set fail to do anything for our ears other than hurt them. Maybe that's the idea; maybe it's noise for noise's sake... but we're not averse to noise per se – far from it. We like Mogwai, we like Deftones, we like Black Sabbath. They're all more than noise, though, and this just isn't. Still, the last ten minutes do show some promise but drummer/vocalist Akiko's stark delivery is just a little too shrill to make the overall impression a positive one. Marks for effort, though.
You couldn't fault The Gossip for that, either, largely due to the magnetic hold singer Beth Ditto exerts on the audience from the word go. This is the last date of their club tour and though she's tired tonight, the only way we know is because she keeps on telling us between swigs of Red Bull (“it gives you wings”, one audience member helpfully points out). Truth is, though, Ditto's voice soars without any kind of stimulation whatsoever. It's not just an instrument, it's positively a weapon that no PA in the world could possibly contain and Plug's is no exception.
On their latest long player, Standing In The Way Of Control, the other instruments are elevated to the same potency but live it's the Ditto show all the way - and why not? Few bands can boast a frontwoman who combines charisma with a show-stopping voice like hers. She doesn't just have a fantastic pair of lungs, though, she has range: from gospel-soul through punk yelping, straight out screaming and back again to sweet croon, there's nothing she can't handle tonight.
If we're brutally honest, the music behind her doesn't quite measure up to the singer's stellar display; it's perfectly competent bluesy-punk (for the most part) delivered by a tight-knit guitar/drums combo. It's heavy in all the right places and ticks the necessary boxes, but without Ditto propelling the songs forward you'd have to wonder whether they'd hold the same appeal. Still, I bet people said the same about Nirvana and from the endless, nameless magazines still giving Cobain cover space, and I'm guessing they were pretty popular...
Photograph by** Gary Wolstenholme**
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