Bristol Fleece & Firkin

We're an hour in, and [B]Bob Pollard [/B]is very, very drunk. He has fallen, his mic cord's tangled about [B]Jim Macpherson[/B]'s pounding drumkit, and he can't quite get up. So he decides to sing

You know the drill by now: 30-something schoolteacher, obsessed equally with The Beatles, The Who, and Budweiser, bashes out neo-psych nuggets with similarly wasted wastrels every weekend. The Outside World chances upon their fragmented self-recorded LPs, and [a]Guided By Voices[/a] win over masses of like-minded pop-junkies all tuned to singer-songwriter Robert Pollard‘s very unique beat frequencies. But what lies beyond the soundbite-history, beyond the myth and the romance?

We’re an hour in, and Bob Pollard is very, very drunk. He has fallen, his mic cord’s tangled about Jim Macpherson‘s pounding drumkit, and he can’t quite get up. So he decides to sing the rest of ‘Maggie Turns To Flies’, note perfect, from the floor. Seconds later, he’s back on his feet, leaning into his adoring crowd, looking at least half his age and howling ‘Big School’ with all his might, with heroically sozzled bassist Tim Tobias lovingly headbutting the singer’s back. On either side of the stage, cucumber-cool Doug Gillard lays down neon lead guitar with tattooed sideman Nate Farley riffing beatifically. It’s onstage camaraderie we haven’t seen since similarly pickled legends The Faces or The Replacements, white-hot melodic rock’n’roll delivered with a deceptive ramshackle abandon.

But the focus is always Bob, promising us “a little dose of Midwestern showbiz hospitality”, teasing the locals and drawing a canon of anthemic, wayward-psyche pop poetry from misread road signs, misheard conversations, and his own Dayton, Ohio hometown. Songs like ‘Tractor Rape Chain’, initially impenetrable spasms of wordplay, wring a winning truth from Bob‘s random thoughts, as he leads the front row in singing [I]”Parallel lines on a slow decline…”[/I].

Not that GBV know anything about decline. Tonight’s an evenhanded 30-plus song set, juggling old favourites, songs from their new, Creation debut ‘Do The Collapse’, and songs from Bob‘s next solo LP. In a very real way, GBV are one of the greenest shoots of rock in its currently depressed state, drinking in and sharing out the romance of rock’n’roll, a gang of soused tune-slingers, administering 100 per cent uncut r’n’r spirit to true believers. A band you’ll wanna get royally sluiced with, a grass-roots resurgence of true garage-pop. Praise be to Bob.