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Von Bondies : London Highbury Garage

Their guitars are speaking in tongues...

Von Bondies  :  London Highbury Garage

The Von Bondies are huddled together, on their knees, locked in rock 'n' roll meditation. Their backs are turned, so only a handful of people can see the private voodoo happening at the foot of the drumkit. Their guitars are speaking in tongues, and the Von Bondies aren't bothering to translate. It's as though nothing matters but this moment - not the audience, not their headline show, not their hometown or the White Stripes-mania that got them here.

It's a mixed blessing being friends, colleagues and compatriots of White Stripes. The Bondies have ridden the White slipsteam thus far, earning exposure and a chance to play loud in big venues. But The Von Bondies are so perfect in themselves, it hardly seems fair that they're the denim blue adjuncts to the all-conquering red and white flag.

If it's worth feeling, singer Jason Stollsteimer believes it's worth hollering. And so he and his fiendishly cool female bookends - guitarist Marcie Bolen and bassist Carrie Smith - rip though songs like the 'Lack Of Communication' with abandon. Where Jack White gives the impression of having closely studied classic texts of pain, Stollsteimer just spits gall. The VBs' debut, 'Lack Of Communication' is a messy breakup album, but one that struts off into the night - as on 'Please Please Man' - after howling at the moon.

For all the excellent rock 'n' roll recriminating, though, The Von Bondies are never finer than when they're just worshipping primal forces. And so 'It Came From Japan''s awesome chorus "we all hail/hail rock 'n' roll" is the night's rallying cry, and the final feedback scream, their hymn.

Kitty Empire

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