Sunday, 30 December 2007

Why Can't We Just All Get Along? and Fortuna POP! present The Christmas Covers Party! 15th December 2007, 93 Feet East

Tonight’s premise: Nottingham promoters Whycan'twejustallgetalong? and the lovely Fortuna Pop! have invited a motley collection of their musical chums to come and play a festive bash. There are lots of bands on the bill (seventy-five ‘artistes’ altogether!) so to save us getting bored, their remit is to provide us with three songs apiece – each of which must be a cover. It’s a Christmas Covers Party!

Confusingly, the normal schimndie suspects who usually make up the audience at such events are in short supply, and the hall is filled with extraordinarily up-for-it posh people, dancing to ‘lowest common denominator crowd pleasers’. These ‘crowd pleasers’ range from the mildy irritating (‘Stuck In The Middle With You’) to the teeth-grittingly hideous (pop pap from the 80s – the stuff that drove me into the arms of indie in the first place, seeking an alternative to the crap that spewed from the charts and the radio and everywhere. We hated that music with a passion – it represented the evil Thatcherite leaching of society of any noble values. But hey, it’s alright now, we’ll just listen to it ironically. Or something). The general ambience tonight, helped along by the dodgy old music, is spookily reminiscent of the Official 6th Form Christmas Disco I attended in 1987 (there was also an unofficial 6th Form Christmas Disco where everyone wore pyjamas and there was a bar and a band and a drunk pulling over the Christmas tree, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). It’s weirding me out a tad.

Every now and then a snow-machine expectorates great clouds of erm ‘snow’ (foamy stuff that lodges on your eyelashes, rather like the real thing but more painful) over those of us haplessly standing near the front. It’s all frightfully festive with the bands gleefully knocking out some entertaining/appalling (often in the space of one song) musical moments.

Moments of genius include My Sad Captain’s sweet and breezy rendering of The Flaming Lips’ ‘Race For The Prize’. They are sparkly and jangly and cheer me up no end. Father Christmas (Oli and Clive) is in good form, entertaining us all with Christmas songs livened up with a spot of saw-playing. He’s also learned a modern pop song in order to bond with the young people – it’s Pixies’ ‘Here Comes Your Man’ sounding heart-warmingly jolly as a ukelele-riddled Country singalong.

The Jingle Belles are members of Not in This Town and Saint Joan, along with Emily Chemistry Experiment. They are pious girls, coming on angelically shrouded and halo-ed, eyes cast to heaven, the skies filled with bells pealing…until their heavenly sheets are cast asunder to reveal that The Jingle Belles have actually gone for a sort of S&M/Gothic take on the Christmas theme. Oh, hang on, they're being Madonna (not THE Madonna). They raucously knock out ‘Like A Prayer’ and brilliantly take on hoary old spook-rock number ‘Come To The Sabbat’ by Black Widow. This basically involves plinking out the song’s hippy-skippy pixie riff on a cranky guitar and alternating it with chants of ‘Come, come, come to the Sabbat, come to the Sabbat, Satan’s there’ in ever more histrionic shrieks. It is obviously unutterable genius.

More genius occurs in the form of Keytarded. Their name alone deserves some kind of prize, now add to that the fact that Keytarded are the three Bearsuit ladies dressed in ‘rollergear’ (tiny shorts), each armed with, yes, a keytar. They play a fabulously rinky-dink cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ that almost tops (as it were) Frank Sidebottom’s version, especially when the last chorus is rendered in "miaows" rather than, you know, boring old words.

Keytarded are joined by a duo of fabulous ‘backing dancer’ boys (out of Bearsuit), one of whom looks like a living Simpsons character and does some brilliant expressive facial work, really capturing the sensation of horror incurred when going ‘down, down, down into a burning ring of fire’. The three song rule is broken, but it doesn’t matter as everyone’s having glorious fun, especially during ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ which we all bellow along to, shamelessly. Again the ghost of Christmas past raises its head: at the Official 6th Form Christmas Disco, Fiona Riches brought along her copy of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ and with much fanfare insisted on playing it, much to our indie-minded abject disgust. It’s good to exorcise these horrors.
Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

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