They’re still sombre, but the Manchester pop duo flirt with optimism on a fist-pumping third album
CMJ 98 / New York Delancey Street Bowery Ballroom
True, [B]THE WREKKED TRAIN[/B] is unlikely to give [B]BAZZA WHITE[/B] a close wobble in the big loving stakes, but there is a passion and a fiery spirit fizzing through the [a]Allstars[/a]' debut US
More pertinently, this whole shebang is hosted by Columbia Records, who find themselves juggling with a posse of Limey upstarts who are rumoured to be a bit 'dancey' and who've never, ever played in America before, and a bunch of homegrown neo-alternative rock stalwarts seeking yet again to seduce that ever-elusive mainstream audience.
Luckily, we are not wearing baseball caps. Even luckier, through the fog of confusion it is possible for mad tykes like ourselves to distinguish some kind of bizarre faultline running betwixt the two, ie, both bands have links with Sub Pop (current home for Pigeonhed, LO-FI's'(pictured) compatriots on their 'Battleflag' project, and first base for the Whigs' recording career years ago) and both have some kind of soul action going down.
True, The Wrekked Train is unlikely to give BAZZA WHITE a close wobble in the big loving stakes, but there is a passion and a fiery spirit fizzing through the Allstars' debut US appearance which saves the evening from that most ignominious of fates, which in American parlance is referred to as 'The Communication Discrepancy'. In other words, A One Man Crowd Called Gentilee spends more time offstage than on it while his basses are being fixed and there are exasperated inter-band gesticulations aplenty as various other techno elements of the sound go AWOL.
Luckily, the people in baseball caps have never seen them before. For all they know, this carnage is normal procedure for the Lo-Fi's live. Ignorant or not, it is to the band's tenacious credit that they turn around their increasingly complex layers of thunderous noise to such an extent that the close of the show is perceived as some kind of triumph. Surly loafers? Not here, not now.
One wonders how The Afghan Whigs would have dealt with such traumas. An emotional bunch at the worst of times, tonight is riddled with gleeful references to departed drummers and "much put-upon" band members from the Cheshire cat-leering frontman, Greg Dulli. The set is also dotted with huge chunks of the quite literally seminal 'Gentlemen', which is slightly worrying in the sense that said album came out five years ago, yet also quite logical in that the Whigs have some time to kill because they come onstage at 12.30am and don't leave until 3am.
That gives us two-and-a-half hours of guitar-snorting, punk-hiccupping, Motown-guzzling, tab-smoking dream noise terror to get through, as Dulli's gang strive to convince the masses that their latest long-player '1965' really, really is the record for them, in the only way they know how.
Not many bands could carry it off. Then again, not many white ex-Sub Pop bands bring their own brass sections all the way from New Orleans, have songs of the calibre of 'Somethin' Hot', 'My Curse' and 'Fountain & Fairfax', play so many soul-humping trump cards with such wicked abandon, or generally whore themselves around with snippets of BLACK SABBATH and the most extravagant of spiritual obsessions. Cool.
The Afghan Whigs will be playing three shows in this venue again just before Christmas. Never a Dulli moment, eh?
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