A multi-award-winning experience of what it’s like to live in constant fear, from rookie Hungarian director László Nemes
London Islington Union Chapel
Largely, to be here is to admit a fondness, even a compulsion, for enervated misery...
For there's little that's pleasurable aboutArab Strap live - at least, pleasure in the smile-feel-better-about-it-all kind of way, rather than the drink-'til-oblivion-then-death method. There's the shudder of Malcolm Middleton's guitar, shifting from quiet frown to full-blown rage in one unnerving second. The bed-bound shuffle of the cymbals. The loose melodic ease of 'Afterwards', sweetly sighed by Cora Bissett, perhaps, or the happy resolution of 'New Birds'. But largely, to be here is to admit a fondness, even a compulsion, for enervated misery. To admit you want to hear this tumbled slur of words, this alcohol-fumed mutter, that watching Aidan Moffat swig from a bottle of red wine and shamble off mid-set for a piss (laughter from an audience so desperate for blue skies they'll settle for humorous urination) somehow constitutes entertainment, edification.
There's no lesson or courage to be taken from the deceptively blithe 'Pyjamas' or the spread-eagled 'The Drinking Eye' (both from new album 'Elephant Shoe'), though, just a clammy fascination. They're in their element, of course, and ignoring the textbook wisdom, it's not air and water they need to survive, but gloom, guilt, depression. And (throw back head, deep breath) they will survive. Yet the more you watch them paddle about in this despondency, the more you resent them and their pallbearer's waltzes, the method-acted tensions and endless longueurs. We deserve better. We're tired. Aidan pretends to hit Cora and they laugh. Go. Walk out the door. Don't turn around now. You're not welcome any more.
Until next time.
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