Wednesday, 24 March 2010

544 NME Carling Awards Tour 2002, featuring ANDREW WK, Lostprophets, BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB, The Coral, Bristol University Anson Rooms, Saturday

A trip to Bristol in the pissing rain to see 4 fairly intense new bands is not normally the kind of thing I'd like to do when recovering from a stinking cold. However, we had tix sorted for this sold-out NME tour show, so Rachel drove - thankfully! Got there well early - 6.30! - in order to get a parking spot at this impossible-to-park-at venue. Grabbed a drink in a pub beforehand as we didn't want to queue in the rain, so by the time we got in - 7.20 - The Coral were already onstage.

I was intrigued about this lot of painfully young Scousers, thinking they might either be the reincarnation of Echo And The Bunnymen, or a waste of space bunch of post-Oasis chancers with not a tune in their heads to rub together to make fire. Thankfully, they were neither, but leaned toward the former, turning out to play an intriguing mix of Bunny-style spaced out rock (with one number, "Goodbye", very Bunnyesque!), ramshackle Men They Couldn't Hang punky folk, a dash of Ukrainian folk music and many intriguing and inventive changes of pace and mood. With a tension and attitude thrown in for good measure, they could be one to watch. Certainly Rach thought they might be the new Crocketts...

Got a cider in before catching the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, next up at 8. They really came through for me "live" in a way their more introspective debut CD has yet to do. A classic blend of a black clad trio playing scuzzy rock'n'roll through swathes of dry ice and moodiness, which really appealed to my Bunnymen/JAMC/PFurs sense of history. Opener "Red Eyes And Tears", with its' Bolanesque hook, and closer "Whatever Happened To My Rock'n'Roll", a JAMC-style feedback-edged rocker were the highlights for me of a fine, sleazy and sexy set, during which I struggled through a bad pint!

Hung out in the lobby afterwards, and ran into one of the taciturn BRMC guys, trying to solicit positive comments on their US tour experiences with our friends The Sheila Divine! He was aware of TSD's forthcoming UK show which they're organising themselves, "and you've gotta respect that." You have, sir, you have!

The ridiculously popular - possibly because they're from South Wales, and a whole mess of folks had come over the bridge to catch 'em - Lostprophets were up next, with a huge moshpit full of kids. I failed to see the attraction as their music was clumsy riff-driven nu-metal of the first water, but also they proved themselves to be a complete bunch of doughnuts by calling out their own fans and chanting "loser" at them. Who exactly are the losers, people?

Stayed back in the lobby whilst this bunch of gits were on, taking a wander back into the hall a few minutes before the headline act was due on. Surprisingly, the hall was half-empty - all the Lostprophets massive had left! Barking mad!
"Laydeeeeeeez and Gennnnnulmennnnn; from Florida, please welcome, Mr. Andrew W-KKKKKKK!!!!", came the boxing-ring style announcement, as this old backing bunch of hardcore punk rejects kicked off the titanic thump of "It's Time To Party". Then Mr. WK strode onstage himself, grinning like a loon, clad in dirty white, all hair and attitude, and launched into the song like a scalded wombat. Time to party indeed!

Andrew WK's music is pretty simple stuff; shades of Van Halen-esque 80's hair rock and California surf-punk, all cranked up to 11 on the monitors and 100 mph. What makes the difference is WK himself; a perpetual ball of motion, energy and intensity, with the crazed roar of a seriously pissed-off Smilodon. Quite simply, the man, his infectious attitude for his music, and his performance itself, is totally awesome. Not once does he, the headliner after all, bemoan the scarcity of the crowd, and on one occasion he took a hit from a full pint glass square in the face, and gave the thrower the thumbs-up! Mad!

A quite brilliant "Party Hard" closed the set, and after 3 more intense, loud as hell numbers, he's off for a well-earned rest, having put heart and soul into his performance. Superb! And it didn't rain so much on the way home either. Bargain!

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