Ye-haaa! What a brilliant night! I paid £7.50 to see two magnificent pop bands, both doing their thang in very different ways.
First up were The Stills who played a very muscular, dark set of pop songs.
I saw The Cure in 1981 at Derby Assembly Rooms and I mean it as an extreme compliment when I say bits of The Stills set reminded me of that gig. I’m glad there wasn’t a stop-motion film of a Lego robot before this gig though. I love the feel this band have live, it’s a different twist on the current post-punk / new new wave sounds currently doing the rounds and I like that altered perspective. The sound was also very good, I was chuffed that I could hear their doomy, neogoth lyrics quite clearly.
Great singalongs like ‘Lola’ and ‘Still In Love Song’ just barrelled along and before I knew it, it was all over. This was the support band? Surely not… The only bad point for me was where the hell was ‘Allison Krausse?’
In some ways, The Shins had a tricky task in following up a louder, driving band with their more delicately arranged music. But they didn’t seem fazed and launched into their set with huge, shit-eating grins and shedloads of energy.
As with The Stills, the familiar songs off their current album, ‘Chutes Too Narrow,’ just poured out, not in a studied, dead way but with smiles and fun. There was something spookily beautiful in the way the band nonchalantly clapped and whooped their way into ‘Kissing The Lipless,’ it made the light song glow. And it would be all too easy for a quiet tune like ‘Young Pilgrim’ to fall into a gig’s background chuntering, become lost and shrivel away. But it didn’t, the chorus soared wonderfully.
Then, just when they’d finished and we demanded more…
…the fuckers came back with a masterful cover of The House Of Love’s ‘Destroy The Heart.’ As Dave Hernandez started playing the A -> D guitar riff, I thought…hmmm this sounds familiar and then when I realised what it was, I almost jizzed myself with excitement. It’s a mark of The Shins live playing power that they came close to The House Of Love themselves when I saw them play this song at Trent Poly, what seems like aeons ago. The Shins took a potentially difficult cover in their stride.
At the party after, I got chatting to all of The Shins except Jessie (dunno where he was hiding) and they all seem like diamond geezers, not up themselves at all and very friendly. It was a revelation to find out that Dave is a fellow 4AD trainspotter. Perhaps a cover of ‘Pearly Dew Drops Drops’ next time, eh lads? 😉
As I said – what a night! Two pop bands whose different styles complemented each other perfectly. The Stills and The Shins – I salute you!
P.S. now I’ve actually had some sleep, I have to add that live, even more than on record, The Shins reminded me of Sex Clark Five. If anyone reading this is a Shins fan who hasn’t heard SC5, please check them out, they’re super-poppy!