The Long Blondes
XX TeensEdit this event
What a difference a year makes. Less than twelve months ago The Long Blondes were headlining (and almost selling out) Rock City, a venue almost twice the size as the main refectory of the city's Trent University. This evening, poor advance ticket sales and a £15 door tax means they end up playing to a barely half-full venue.
Still, it could be worse. They could have the graveyard slot like openers XX Teens whose audience consists of a mere 37 people (and I did count them), which is a shame as for all the technical glitches and occasional sound problems - at one point the bass amp sounds like it's about to explode, the reverberating top-string cutting through many a midriff - their Fall-meets-Neu! down the Junk Club material is strangely compelling, even if some punters are left scratching their heads at the band favouring percussive repetition over straight-forward tunage. Their current repertoire certainly represents a marked departure from their previous incarnation as Xerox Teens, while in drummer Macks Faulkron they possess the most ferocious sticksman since Animal last manned the Muppets band’s kit.
Whisper it, but these are ominously difficult times for The Long Blondes. Not many bands could survive the breakdown of one personal relationship, let alone two, so when both of those fall apart in just a few months it doesn't make the working environment a particularly happy place. Add to that largely lukewarm reviews for their comeback album and there's almost a feeling of being back to square one again, almost like the time when they were trying to get signed, several points still to prove.
However, what they do possess is a focal centre of attention in Kate Jackson; a born star if ever there was one, and someone whose prominence will undoubtedly ensure that even during their most difficult times The Long Blondes as a unit shall prevail.
There are times this evening when that almost falls apart. Drummer Screech Louder's between-song interjections about toga parties and other random nonsense coupled with Dorian Cox's hissy fit at one of the soundmen during 'Century', culminating in his guitar being turned up to a ridiculously high level, threatens to usurp the momentum, but thankfully a quick delve into their back catalogue restores parity, not to mention any onstage tension.
And that's part of the problem. For all "Couples"’ attempts at being innovative, a lot of the material pales - 'Round The Hairpin' and next single 'Guilt' being the main exceptions - when aired back to back with older material like 'You Could Have Both' or early single 'Autonomy Boy', given a rare outing this evening.
On the whole, tonight's show pretty much reaffirms that for all their lofty ambitions of grandeur, The Long Blondes are better suited to more intimate settings.
Photo: _mei (from Flickr)
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