Dublin Music Centre

Beneath the look, the gadgets and all the trimmings, there may not be that much going on...

[a]Add N To X[/a] know how to make an entrance. There’s a low-budget French movie playing on the screens above the stage as we await the arrival of spooked analogue adventurers. No-one quite knows what it’s about or why it’s being played, although sneaking suspicions suggest it’s all part of [a]Add N To X[/a]’s indie-erotica vision. But just before the disgruntled murmuring reaches an uncomfortably loud volume, they walk onstage and get those stacks of black boxes whirring into action.

You can see why [a]Add N To X[/a] intrigue such a visually disparate audience. The style is impeccably conceived. Ann Shelton is a perfectly groomed Morticia-esque dominatrix vamp straight off an Ed Wood set. So those with a penchant for rubber-wear, spikes, funny hair colours, and The Rocky Horror Show, are well represented tonight. [a]Add N To X[/a] also attract the anti-traditionalists, with their moogs, synths, theremin and all manner of vintage analogue chic.

That said, for all their abstract cartooning, they’re a rock and roll band at the core, and, tonight, the spacey noodling merely acts as a smokescreen for one seriously laborious performance. They’ve a wonderful collection of musical curios at their disposal, but [a]Add N To X[/a] seem more concerned with incidental comedy sound effects and kooky b-movie horror signatures. The trademark vocoder sound is terribly over-played tonight, Steve Claydon‘s awful growl-singing grates on the nerves, and, bizarrely enough, joins the dots between [a]Add N To X[/a] and Slipknot. The superfluity isn’t a million miles from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion‘s silly pastiches. Too much style, too little substance.

The set-list is shaped around material from the forthcoming third album,
‘Add Insult To Injury’, and doesn’t bode tremendously well. Best of the bunch is new single ‘Plug Me In’, and with or without its “controversial” porn video, it’s an irresistibly giddy plastic pop song. And ‘Kingdom of Shades’ is a cute enough, head-bobbing parody and sure-fire hit down at the Monster Club. Alas, most of the tracks are soulless and repetitious, like ‘Brothel Charge’, a moog-burping electro swamp stomp that stomps and stomps and stomps about in circles. And that’s the problem. Beneath the look, the gadgets and all the trimmings, there may not be that much going on. –
Leagues O’Toole