Saturday, 8 January 2011

Comet Gain / The Loft / Veronica Falls, 5 January 2011, The Lexington

Night two of NOT!! The Track and Field Winter Sprinter and, unlike last night, the Lex is packed early doors. There’s a noticeable contingent of hipster kidz, perhaps here for Veronica Falls, a band who have managed to endear themselves both to the oldsters - by sounding like bands did when the oldsters were youngsters - and to the youth by cleverly being young and presumably cool (who knows what’s cool with the kids apart from showing your pants/bum area?)

Veronica Falls begin by singing acapella three part harmonies that are all lovelee, folky, roses-and-morning-dew-ish before they get ripped into with a beat, beat smash colourburst of feisty popness. Those harmonies continue throughout the set, buzzing around the jangling guitars and bumpy drums, they’re one of the things that set VF apart from your usual jangle, smash, lalala indiepop thing and makes them extra special.

All of their songs are fabulous; Beachy Head, Stephen, Found Love In A Graveyard, have a nervy, rumbly vibe like Beat Happening running down a hill. Classic pop tunes of our time forming before our very eyes! There are covers, too but they don’t quite have the Veronica Falls pop-kick of their own songs, fewer layers of sound maybe? It’s still good to hear ‘What Goes On’ though, as it reminds me how this used to be my fave Velvets song and how we used to wig out to it at the Basement in Brighton (RIP). That’s the problem with VU covers, it’s always nice to hear ‘em, but never as good as hearing the originals. We get another cover, ‘Starry Eyes’ by Roky Erickson which works better as it’s further removed from the original and more um, Veronica-y with its rattley tambourine-topped drums and twinklingly strummy dual guitars.

Each time I see this band they seem to have flourished further, and as this set comes to a close, I’m already looking forward to my next Veronica Falls gig – their fabness seems to be increasing exponentially.

The Loft's Pete Astor is apparently an academic these days, and he certainly looks the part, in hip-prof glasses. Happily he and his fellow Loft men attack their back catalogue with ferocity, showing that old geezers with old songs can still be vital and relevant and not dull old liven-up-granddads searching for their glory days. Astor and Andy Strickland’s guitars crackle. It all goes a tad mid-tempo in the middle, but never mind ‘cos here comes ‘Why Does The Rain’ whee! I love this song and drift into a haze of ‘ooh it’s 1986 blimey!’ jangle-dreams. The old-faves-ometer is revved up further for set-closer ‘Up The Hill And Down The Slope’ which is fleet and firey and sets Comet Gain to dancing in the corner and waving their brollies in the air like they just don’t care. Which they don’t…

Sean Fortuna Pop has given Comet Gain weak beer in an attempt to keep them sober long enough for them to ‘headline’. I’m not sure that ruse has worked so well as they amble on and, by way of an introduction, David Feck sings a rambling stream of (un)consciousness in an amusingly feeble meandering voice…but then they’re off speeding into ‘Say Yes! To International Socialism’. Woo! Comet Gain are never less than highly entertaining even if they barely play a note, but when the songs come whooshing in like this and you’re caught up in their righteous, indignant flow there’s little that can touch them. Of course there’s plenty of dipshit arsing about in between songs, at one point Feck is tortuously tuning up until Jon Slade decides, “That’s good enough for this song”.

There have been murmurings about how Comet Gain are an odd choice of headliner, which Feck addresses by comparing the evening to an episode of ‘Come Dine With Me’. We’ve had the exciting starter of Veronica Falls – ‘scallops and er, kiwi fruit’, then the delicious roast dinner main course of The Loft and now the ‘disappointing dessert’ of Comet Gain, like ‘custard with skin on’.

But then there’s ‘The Fists In The Pocket’ making your stomach rollercoaster and your ears pop, and Ben Phillipson coming along to add vocal harmonies and the whole set sounding scratchy and angry and punk scuffed.

The audience shouts out for ‘Movies’ to be played as an encore, to Feck’s consternation as he can’t remember the chords. The band starts playing anyhoo leading to some very amusing non-remembrance of chords irritation where Feck keeps hissing at the band to stop playing and they ignore him. Eventually the right chords find their way back into Feck’s brain and out of his fingers and the song grows and warps, morphing into, amongst other things, ‘Mr Pharmacist’ until it is finally laid to rest. Feck miraculously manages to do a sort of outro to proceedings sung in the same wavering voice in which he began. Poetic symmetry.

1 comment:

String Bean Jen said...

Marvelous review as usual! I agree with almost all of it. I love Veronica Falls though their hipster clientele have turned me off along the way. But my god do they have, um, chops.

I enjoyed The Loft but only when they picked up the pace with the songs I know. And I loved Peter Astor's spectacles.

Yes Comet Gain are often a shambles but OH so entertaining and what verve! So I think they were a right-on choice for headliners. And I think the others can usually keep the tunes starting and going on - Jon and Kay especially.