There is a sign outside the venue that reads ‘Cornershop live tonight…yes, that Cornershop‘. It shows the abyss of public awareness that Tjinder Singh and his merry band have fallen into of late. After all, it’s been six years since Handcream For A Generation graced the album charts back in 2002. However, with the promise of a cracking support from London-based French duo John & Jehn, the trip was made to my original London stomping ground. The gig is a warm-up for their Wireless show the next day, and their first gig seemingly since a mini-tour in November last year.
The Amersham Arms is barely full when John & Jehn take to the stage, their first words enticing the crowd closer. They launch into a taut set, John throwing all kinds of angular shapes with guitar and body, Jehn starting out hunched over an organ but soon taking to bass. The tunes are an amalgam of Stereolab, Velvet Underground and The Raveonettes, all hatchet guitars, pysch-synths and loaded stares. Unlike the Raveonettes, the drum machine clanking away doesn’t detract or become repetitive. In fact, there is so much to enjoy in their all-too-short set that I’m left wanting more. Another debut album to track down.
It isn’t long before Cornershop make their way onto the cramped stage. Launching straight into Sleep On The Left Side, it becomes obvious that this South London pub is about to be treated to the very best that the band can offer. They follow the opening salvo with the bouncy Lesssons Learnt From Rocky I to Rocky III, one of the most bewilderingly unappreciated singles of the early 2000s. The set continues at that pace, drawing faux-Bollywood moves from the front row, and head-nodding from the less dance-inclined. There’s new songs premiered, single-to-be The Roll Off Characteristics Of History In The Making the most memorable. There are also a couple of choice covers, Norwegian Wood with live sitar is a sound to behold, and a cheeky take on The Mighty Quinn brings ear-to-ear smiles. A breezy run-through of Brimful of Asha is followed by the spectacular 6 a.m. Jullander Shere, perhaps the band’s best track. The band leave the stage one by one, with Singh unsurprisingly the first to go. Five minutes later, drummer and percussionist are still at it. A short set, obviously made for festivals, packed full of quality, fun and tunes. Wireless is in for a treat.