Ah the Winter Sprinter. Remember this Track and Field curated annual gathering of schmindie-minded folks? It wasn’t just the usual London gits snuffling their way into the New Year with a bit of beer quaffing and band scrutinising, but people making a right proper effort from up North and that (all hail the couple who came down from the outer reaches of the Scottish Highlands in order to see Herman Dune or some such and who looked at us in disgust when we said we couldn’t be arsed travelling as far as Kilburn). It was an ace annual lark wasn’t it? Well here we are again at (Not) The Track and Field Winter Sprinter. Fortuna Pop! have proudly taken up the first-thing-in-Jan-pop-fest baton and are waving it excitably in our Christmas-dulled faces. Yay! But also Gah! Headliners Shrag have had to cancel due to illness. But then again Hurrah! we get to see a band we ain’t seen before instead.
That band is Evans The Death who are all v. young. Look at their little fresh faces – the bastards. They play a crackling selection of popmental songs, with Katherine’s loop the loopy, sweetly gulpy voice the cherry on their wonky cake of tune. Topically, for Katherine has the sniffles, they play 'Catch Your Cold' “for anyone who’s had flu or a cold in the last month” (i.e. everyone). Then there’s ‘Morning Voice’ in which Katherine displays the opposite of a morning voice - not at all croaky and grumpy, but swoopy and catching on little hooks. Meanwhile there are two lots of guitars going clang-a-lang-a lang-a in a whizz-your-heart-up-in-a-blender jangling way, plus a lot of young person’s hair to marvel at. One guitarist has Douglas Hart’s old JAMC hair. The drummer has that sweepy hair that boys have, (a style described, brilliantly, on Achewood as ‘a sideways, microwaved Byrds wig’). The bass player is magnificently gingery of mop. They also have a song called 'A Small Child Punched Me In The Face'. Good one.
Standard Fare charge through their set at a lightning pace so singer Emma can catch her train. We feel bad about detaining them with all our selfish listening to their songs and watching them play and stuff, they were expecting to be first on the bill and out of here by now, so their haste is forgivable. In my head I sort of know I like Standard Fare, but every time I see them I’m always thrilled by just how ace their songs are. Emma’s voice, with its tiny throat-catchy crack, is just the right kind of slightly hurt-sounding. Smiley-faced guitar-strangler Danny is always a joy to behold as he cheerily coaxes out tricksy melodies and skewed chords. A race through the Long Blondish ‘Fifteen’ and they’re done. Bye, then.
This may be NOT! The Track and Field Winter Sprinter, but the T&F spirit is kept aglow by the presence of Mr Paul Wright in the DJ Overlord’s box. He plays some fine rippin’ tunes, from The Bodines ‘Therese’ to a big old chunk of Nuggets garage, so the between bands sounds make for mighty fine listening too.
It seems that the people who say this kind of thing are suddenly all going ‘Oh I think I like The Loves now’ after many years of barely concealed indifference. Well it’s too late ‘cos the band have nearly finished their ‘career’ for good. We are pleased to have been witnessing their spectacle in all its myriad forms since they started. Tonight we get The Loves in competent yet entertaining mode with Simon Love and his moustache playing ringmaster to the band’s rock ‘n’ roll circus. There are tracks from their new album mixed with old faves like ‘Xs and Os’ plus added mid-set horseplay in celebration of drummer Jonny’s birthday. Tonight, being a school night, The Loves line-up does not include singer Jenna, so the lady voice sections go to Alice who gets to sing the foot-stampingly catchy ‘That Boy Is Mine’ as well as swinging her shiny locks o’er her keyboard.
On 'It's...The End Of The World', the part of Jesus (yes) is played on the album by a real-life Velvet Undergroundman Doug Yule. Here, tonight, on Pentonville Road, the part is played by the aforementioned Paul Wright who has the good grace to stand on stage like a goon until he is required to say his lines. This messianic role is initially offered to Bob Underexposed, but he declines to creep the boards for some reason (sanity?) As ever The Loves live experience is a thoroughly enjoyable bubblegum beat happening. Sadly, chances to witness it are rapidly running out.