Thursday, 29 July 2010

406 FRANK BLACK AND THE CATHOLICS, Reid Paley, London LA2, Monday 24 May 1999

"The Fat Guy Is Back," warned none other than the Daily Mirror's Matthew Wright of this gig, with the footnote to, "expect musical fireworks". So we headed off early - 1/4 to 5 - and hit the packed venue at 7.30. A nice place for a gig, but the raised dancefloor pisses me off!

We were rudely assaulted by support Reid Paley at 8. As if Frank realised he'd forgotten to pack a support act as he was setting off, so propositioned some busker on the New York subway. Paley assaulted us with anger and vitriol, like a Billy Bragg raised on bourbon in Brooklyn, instead of politics in Peckham. Funnier as a stand-up, when he confronted the apathetic audience, Paley left a favourable impression for his perseverance rather than his angry and passionate but one-dimensional tunes.

The place was heaving as Frank joined us at 9, immaculately dressed in business suit and tie. He and the Catholics ripped into their high-octane sleazy rock, causing frenzy with opener "All My Ghosts", then total delirium with next number, the Pixies' "Holiday Song"!

Following the de-electrification of Bob Mould, Frank is currently US indie rock's elder statesman, but tonight still showed the young 'uns the way, with some searing grunge-ified rock, with slightly psycho-hillbilly overtones. A superb "Headache" and electrifying "10 %-er" paved the way for the undoubted set highlight, a slow, moody and perfect "Wave Of Mutilation"! No further Pixies numbers ensued, but Sir Rockaby dipped voraciously into his solo canon of work tonight. After a 1 1/4 hour set which raced by, a sweaty Frank took the lengthy applause, and left us stunned and screaming for more!

We bumped into Par from the Wannadies and other bandmates on the slow and crowded way out; he totally failed to remember us meeting twice in Bristol. Still, never mind, as we got the heads-up on their new CD due in August. Ended up talking about the Wannadies as we headed for home, rather than Frank, which was a bit of a shame. So what if the sound was somewhat glary from my front-left vantage point; so what if the set suffered from mid-set thrashy overload; musical fireworks were expected, and musical fireworks we got!

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