Tuesday, 31 August 2010

373 DAWN OF THE REPLICANTS, Formula One, Cheltenham The Axiom, Wednesday 13 May 1998

Left late for this one - 8 pm - as this is a late gig, apparently, even on a Wednesday night! Had a drink with the boys in the well-appointed courtyard outside this venue, before venturing in at 9.45 for first band on, Formula One. Their formula was a Stereolabbish love of metronomic rhythm, with a heightened ear for strumalong tunes. The final cacophonous number also harked back to the unorthodox song structures of the likes of Wonky Alice (!). In F1 terms, not podium finishers, but likely to get a few points here and there. Maybe they should tap up Jackie Stewart, as he needs a driver for his team...

The Replicants came on at a very user-unfriendly 11 (d'oh!); a very odd looking bunch, accentuated by the vocalist's silver lab jacket and WW1 linen flying helmet. They played the most intriguing, unorthodox and downright weird set - sorry, show! - I've seen or am likely to see this year. Showing it is possible to push the boundaries of rock music without losing sight of good tunes and absorbing melody, their set, based mainly on their puzzling but fine "One Head, Two Arms, Two Legs" CD, was oblique and mightily good, with "Lisa Box", nevertheless their most orthodox and rocking number, the highlight. Comparisons? Well, the vocalist matches such as Isobel Drugstore for unusual attention-grabbing stage presence, but the music? Hmmm... the best I was able to come up with was an indie/grunge Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band!

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