Vines : Seattle Moore Theater

...far less animated, or alive, than usual...

Minutes after George Bush announces the start of hostilities in Iraq, The Vines kick off a campaign of their own in the trigger-happy president’s homeland. It’s just the band’s second gig in six weeks and, frankly, they’re a little rusty. In fact, there are a couple of moments during tonight’s 40-minute set that veer towards the painful.

But the month-and-a-half layoff does not appear to have dulled frontman Craig Nicholls’ appetite for destruction. Opener ‘In The Jungle’ is barely halfway through when the curtain-fringed singer breaks his first microphone stand of the evening. Over the course of the next 40 minutes, he will do this about twelve more times and knock over Hamish Rossner’s drumkit twice, both times mid-song. By the end of a politely – but far from rapturously – received set Nicholls has wreaked so much carnage his hapless roadie deserves a curtain call. After all, he has spent nearly as much time on stage clearing up as the singer.

Nicholls and his bandmates seem far less animated, or alive, than usual and it’s only during the third encore that he really, really gets going, hawking up venom in the singalong chorus of ‘Fuck the World’ with a delightful howl during the last, and best, of three new songs unveiled tonight.

Both of the other two newies – ‘Amnesia’ features a lazy psychedelic Syd Barrett vibe a la ‘Autumn Shade’ and ‘Evil Town’ possesses some angular guitar wrangling and strangling – are met with a muted response, unlike ‘Outtathaway!’, ‘Get Free’ and the predictable cover of Outkast’s ‘Ms Jackson’. Overall, however, the set suffers from a (probably deliberate) lack of cohesion, and little pacing or momentum leaving the audience occasionally restless and often unconvinced. Tonight The Vines lost a battle. It remains to be seen whether they’ll win the war. Here’s hoping.

Kevan Roberts