Thursday, 29 July 2010

404 THE VIOLENT FEMMES, Hefner, London Kentish Town Forum, Wednesday 5 May 1999

Clive got 1/2 hour off work, so this was an earlier than expected jaunt up the Smoke with Rachel and myself for the usual park and tube run from Shepherd's Bush. Got over to Kentish Town via hordes of touts on the tube station; a sell-out one, this!

Into the already-busy venue for Hefner, sole support at 8.15. Despite their good rep, they were merely OK; a little too wet for my tastes, methinks. This was C86-ish pleasant strumalong pop a la Chesterfields, which unlike their stuff, went nowhere for me.

We, however, went for a wander during the interval, which was a big mistake, as by the time The Violent Femmes took the stage at 9.20, the place was so packed we couldn't get back onto the dancefloor, and had to settle for a very crowded vantage point by the back bar! Despite being a fan of these ramshackle US indie rock veterans for donkey's years, this was my first "live" experience of them, and they lived up to expectations and their reputation by playing a corker. Their stripped back, ramshackly hillbilly take on US rock was excellent "live", as they transformed into America's No. 1 Good Time Band. The crowd reaction was astonishingly enthusiastic, particularly for the creepy "Country Death Song", and a storming "Blister In The Sun", which totally raised the roof!

The set was slightly overlong thereafter, and I could have done without the bassist's Offspring-like rabble rousing. However, a superb "Gone Daddy Gone" featuring a splendid nasal vocal from Gordon Gano, as well as a totally rocking xylophone (!) and "Add It Up" were worth waiting to the end of the 1 1/2 hour set for. Less might have been more, ironically, but nevertheless a great enthusiastic evening from an enduring American Country rock band!

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