Thursday, 18 March 2010

546 THE SHEILA DIVINE, supporting Ben Kweller, London Camden Monarch "Barfly" Club, Tuesday 26 February 2002

Amazingly, The Sheila Divine, the band I flew to Boston for a weekend to see, and whom Rachel and I went to Belgium to follow, both last year, finally organised a gig in London! Self-financed and all, so what more could we do than to make an overnighter of it! Coached to London and booked in at our hotel, barely 100 yards from the venue! After an afternoon shopping and recreating, we hit the Barfly at 6, sneaking into The Sheila Divine's soundcheck (which sounded spot-on at this notoriously dodgy venue!).

Met and greeted the boys, then after a short wait while they ironed out their set - cut at the last minute to half an hour, damn! - we hit the local Wetherspoon's with bass player Jim Gilbert and drummer Ryan Dolan for an entertaining hour of booze, catching up and swapping Boston Rock anecdotes, particularly about Pete (+1!) Stone, and Hilken Mancini's Punk Rock Aerobics! Back to the venue and met up with travelling Swindon friends in the already-filling-up-nicely crowd - apparently this one was a sell-out, so The Sheila Divine had a chance to impress a good crowd!

Rach and I hit the front, stage right, for the Sheila's entrance at 9, with the shimmering, haunting title track form their "Countrymen" CD. Despite the poor sound, (it sounded better in soundcheck!), the set thereafter was predictably yet joyfully brilliant; the edgy, itchy rant of "Ostrich", followed by newie "We All Have Problems", familiar to us from Belgium, so we could sing along to this hooky punky number. But "Criminal" really ignited us, with its angular guitar slashes painting the way for Aaron's intense vocal performance, particularly the "rock you, yeah, yeah, yeah" finale, breathtaking and cacophonous, yet still melodic! After a couple of newies, more studied and slower paced yet no less dramatic and emotive, the finale "Back To The Cradle" once again brought melody and cacophony in equal measure, with Aaron abandoning the guitar to wrestle the mikestand in the song's thrilling crescendo, whilst howling primally and dramatically. At the end we were once again drained yet elated; that's what this band does to us!

Moved to the back for Ben Kweller's set, bumping into a late-arriving Kevin Hendricks and the rest of his Seafood bandmates in the process! Had the distinct honour of introducing two of my favourite bass-players - Jim and Kevin - to each other, and it was a nice surprise to discover Jim already owned Seafood's first CD! After The Sheila Divine's drama and intensity, Ben Kweller's lightweight solo acoustic limericks didn't really gel, so we left the bursting crowd for a seat downstairs, hanging out with the Sheilas and their supporting cast of friends and relatives for beer. We eventually left at 11.30 after a fun hour with the Sheilas and Co. Now we can't wait for them to come back again!

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