Sunday 20 February 2011

The Loves Retirement Party, 13 February 2011, The Lexington

My name is Kitten Painting and I have seen The Loves 31 times. I’m not sure how this happened, but I’m glad it did. It’s been a rum old 11 years, but now it is all coming to an end. The Loves are retiring with a POP!

Simon has handpicked the bands for today’s retirement party extravaganza, and I reckon if you smooshed them all together in some kind of musical super collider you might end up with a sort of Frankingstein’s monster version of The Loves.

For starters there are The Werewandas who tout bouffanty quiffs and familiar faces (familiar in our micro world of popular song, anyway) whilst playing some toe-tappin’ rockabilly. A stompin’ly cheery beginning.

Mick Travis aka Jamie once of Tompaulin plays a solo acousto set mainly made up of old Tompaulin songs (‘Ballad Of The Boot Boys’, ‘My Life At The Movies’, ‘It’s A Girl’s World’, ‘Slender’ – wow!) in which he sings both boy and girl vocals, attacks his guitar with passion and reminds us how ace the band were. The songs give me flashbacks to a Track And Field happening at The Scala in 2001 which included Tompaulin and The Loves. It’s confusing feeling nostalgic for the recent past.

A raw blast of garage from The Vinyl Stitches gets us on our feet, shaking to their heavy blues take on the freakbeat sound. They have great hair and a bloodcurdling selection of throat-scratching howls and also a bit of a technical hitch during which the DJ plays The Cramps and Love’s ‘My Little Red Book’. You’d think it might be a bit intimidating having to kick-start a conked out set in the face of such fine garage sounds from the vaults, but The Vinyl Stitches sandblast their way through their second half with such power that you can’t even see the join.

Next: Pocketbooks, the sound of young(ish) indiepop London. They wield a fistful of new songs and take us on a cheery canter round some old faves. They’re a refreshing pop burst that’s most welcome at this point in proceedings as we are starting to go a bit mental and have taken to wearing ‘hiphop glasses’.

If you aren’t charmed by The Lovely Eggs then you have gone wrong. They’re playing fast, we’re told, ‘cos they haven’t had their teas yet, racing through a set that displays a selection of wonky wares from their fine new album ‘Cob Dominos’. There’s the ferocious sing-song of opener, ‘People Are Twats’, a fleeting medley consisting of ‘Muhammed Ali and All His Friends’ / ‘I’m A Journalist’ (“I’m a journalist up your arse!”), and the brilliant Chigley hardcore of ‘Why Don’t You Like Me’ about how girls shouldn’t be girlfriends of blokes in bands, but should be IN bands. (“I said you get on your bike and I beggared off on tour”). Holly’s between song chat is sweet and hilarious and at odds with her deranged, hair flying, corrosive guitar attacks. David grins and grins and batters the drums and adds all important counter-points to Holly’s words. The Lovely Eggs make you want to eat jelly and ice-cream, jump up and down, shout along (“Look at ‘im with ‘is sausage roll thumb!”), and then give them a great big hug.

The School treat us to a selection of Loves songs and are heckled from the sidelines by The Loves themselves. The likes of ‘That Boy Is Mine’ and ‘She’ll Break Your Heart’ are bubblegum girl-grouped to within an inch of their pop lives. Je T’aime Baby’ becomes almost kosmiche, whilst Simon and Jenna Love can’t resist the urge to rush onto the stage to sing backing vocals and indulge in a little waltz. Sweet.

Comet Gain hold it together and fly through a rambunctious set. In Kaye’s absence, Jon Slade takes up a tiny pink bass and Ben Phillipson, who seems to be filling the role of CG odd-job man at the moment, does guitar. The fabulous ‘The Fists In The Pocket’ sees an outbreak of (3) people doing idiot dancing down the front, sparking looks of bemusement/disdain on Feck’s fuzzy face. There’s the rowdy anxiety attack of ‘Working Circle Explosive’ and then a long discussion about what extra song to play as the band have finished their set with time to spare (surely a first). This discussion is so long it takes up most of the extra time, but hurrah! ‘My Defiance’ eventually gets blurted out. To end, Feck throws a bunch of his old home-made mix CDs into the crowd, a generous gesture considering he had been toying with selling them for 50p each in order to ‘get Comet Gain drunk’.

And now, the end is near. The Loves stride the stage for the final time. Simon has changed into a spiffy red ‘n’ black combo and, befitting the gravitas of the evening, a toy Kermit* clings to his shoulder.

There’s a jovial sense of occasion amongst the crowd, it’s sad that it couldn’t always be like this. ‘Sweet Sister Delia’ is dedicated to everyone’s favourite drumming, strumming, hand-stampin’ lady (and one-time Love). Simon gets all embarrassed about singing ‘Motherfuckers’ in front of his girlfriend’s mum. Sean Price is Jesus. At least that’s what ‘It’s… The End Of The World’ would have you believe as the sheet-clad Fortuna Pop-man guest-stars as our Saviour for the song. There’s a succession of tunes new and old, ‘I Want Love And Affection…’, ‘Bubblegum’, ‘WTF?’, ‘Coca Cola’, ‘Can You Feel My Heart Beat’…every one’s a winner. Guitars are turned down in order that we might hear and savour the added string section (courtesy of A Little Orchestra) on ‘December Boy’. We can’t really hear them, but it’s the thought that counts.

It’s always been the thought that counts with The Loves (in a good way), you could never accuse them of being indie-of-ambition (feather-clad dancing girls, Doug Yule guesting on the new album, the afore-mentioned Jesus, moustaches! capes!!), Simon has always chewed up and spat out a whole wide range of influences which made The Loves much more than just 60s fetishists, or swinging Carnaby Street historical re-enactors. And Simon’s love of rock ‘n’ roll has always been tempered by an all important sense of the absurd (the man’s a top onstage quipper). This is why I loved The Loves. Tunes! Fun! Drink! Chaos! More Tunes!

The band segues neatly into ‘You Give A Little Love’ from the Bugsy Malone soundtrack (a tune that maybe hasn’t been aired since the end of The Loves mk I at Pow! To The People 2004), and we sing our little hearts out. It seems like this should be the finale, but the last Loves song is ‘Little Girl Blues’, we dance our little toes off to what was The Loves first single. What goes around comes around. R.I.P. The Loves.

*I remember in the 80s when these Kermits were all the rage amongst the kids. I really wanted one, but instead I had a fake one that came from a fairground. It was the wrong colour green. And wasn’t Kermit, just a furry frog.