Red Snapper / Lo-Fidelity Allstars / Bent / Zoot Woman: London Astoria

Day three of the NME Carling Awards Shows is a beat-centric triumph for the dance headz...

It is perhaps fitting that, in the spirit of eclecticism that defines these awards shows, the ‘dance’ night should feature no acts which conform to the

traditional definition of club music. Take Zoot Woman for example. The new project from Jacques ‘LRD’ Lu Cont and his mates is more AOR than acid house, as the muscular, sinuous Steely Dan-gone-funk of ‘It’s Automatic’ and ‘Living In A Magazine’ go to prove. Nonetheless, catchy as that couplet proves to be, the final result is a wholly unsatisfactory experience. Sure, they look great in their matching Gary Numan suits but, as their charmless dissection of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ goes to prove, man cannot live on irony alone.

No such problems with Bent, however. Still relatively new to this live game, their first few attempts tended to be understated to the point of bland. Tonight, however, home listening gems like ‘I Love My Man’ are beefy, chunky salvos of delightfully irresistible Balearic bliss. By the time a towering ‘Swollen’ detonates in all its end of night, hey-man-I-really-love-you, let’s all go back to mine glory, you’re left in no doubt that this is a great, great band who are only just starting to come into their own.

Similarly, the Lo-Fi’s return to the Astoria stage after an overlong absence and proceed to rock the party in no uncertain fashion. Taking the stage to the riotous glow of recent single ‘The All, The All’, this shaggy looking bunch of reprobates still look like the most hideously frazzled last gang in town of them all – and you know what? It still works. With only a thumping, hands-in-the-air stomp through ‘Disco Machine Gun’ to remind us that they

have ever had any old material, this cocky, self-assured fusion of Manc attitude and house-adelic party instincts proves that they are as vital as ever.

All of which must have proved a tad daunting for the more moody and atmospheric headliners Red Snapper. The first few tracks seem a bit nervy – but all it takes is a haunting, MC’d-up re-visit of ‘Snapper’ for everything to slot into place. If it’s instant, e-fuelled gratification you’re looking for here you’re going to be disappointed. Red Snapper’s unique soundscapes reward the careful listener, and as you’re drawn, inexorably, into the rainswept, urban world of ‘The Rake’ and an enervating ‘Crusoe Takes A Trip’, it’s hard to think of another band who sound remotely like them. In these derivative times, that’s something to treasure.

John Hall