A rainy night in Islington, North London. The same night that made millions of Englishmen miserable as our decrepit football team tamely missed out on a place at Euro 2008. Thankfully, inside the cosy Academy strangely located in Islington’s N1 shopping centre, two groups of Scots and one Welsh trio are keeping scores of punters happy. First on the bill were Foxface. A raw trio from the wilds north of the border, their clattering racket kicked off the evening to a warm reception. An accordion playing drummer, a toy-xylophone playing bassist and an enthused singer/guitarist belted out tunes not too far removed from the night’s headliners.
Victorian English Gentlemens Club were the second band, and they played a set that was far too short and included far too few of their great tunes from their debut. Particularly badly missed was ‘Tales of Hermit Mark‘, although the newer material sounded decent enough, and ‘My Son Spells Backwards‘ still sounded caustic as ever. The band strode on to Emma Daman smashing a bell, and the noise level never really dropped from that moment on…the trio frequently converged around the drum kit, thrashed to an inch of its life by Daman, and truly seemed more of a band than previous times I’ve seen them.
Then the main event, and I’ll be honest, I was looking forward to seeing this lot a great deal. Our previous engagement was as a support act to Morrissey, only for them to be replaced by some Siouxie-like singer with a dodgy drum machine…this was all the way down in Truro though, and strange things happen in Cornwall. Out they come, bassist (and occasional mandolinist) Ailidh Lennon continuing tonight’s theme of spangly dresses; Adele Bethel sporting what could only be described as a ‘Winehouse’ barnet and Scott Patterson his standard 50s-throwback backcombed quiff. They set off at a frenetic pace, alternating old and new tracks to a good effect. Halfway through the set come the highlights, a menacing rendition of ‘Rama Lama‘ complete with howled vocal breakdowns and spastic guitar riffs, along with breakneck readings of ‘Dance Me In‘ and ‘Taste the Last Girl‘. Amongst the newer tracks there is a creeping feeling that a misjudged stab at a more mainstream sound has been taken, with new single ‘Darling’ conforming to a pretty standard indie-rock-stomp template. There were signs that The Gift will live up to it’s billing, a new track based around the Cathy Come Home, a Ken Loach film, crept wonderfully along, powered by a slinky Lennon bassline. Pleasingly, the performance ended with a Stooges-inspired version of ‘Johnny Cash‘ complete with a ‘…Be Your Dog‘ “Come On!!” and the crowd went bananas one last time before heading back out to a gloomy, wet, North London night.
Photos: Foxface & V.E.G.C: Me!, Sons & Daughters: Forklift