Mad Action : London Highbury Garage

...a special, special band...

Mad Action are two average-looking American indie guys – Paul Nicgorski and Ryan Bernstein – who simultaneously wear average-looking American indie guy clothes and rabbit-in-the-headlights expressions on their faces. Basically, they look like they’ve been plucked from their jobs as supply teachers or clearing up leftover carrot cake after a poetry night in some boho coffee shop and shoved onstage. Possibly the most remarkable thing about their appearance is the fact that one of them, Ryan, has curly hair. The other one does not. Luckily, though, the Philadelphia duo attempt to to liven things up by appearing in front of a film of Paul’s silhouette playing the drums. As rock stagecraft goes it’s hardly Gene Simmons firing rockets from his bass, Ozzy chucking dwarves into a fiery pit or the sax player from Madness zipping around the stage on wires, but at least they’re make some kind of concession to showmanship.

Thankfully as well, most of their songs are way beyond ordinary. Students of the same early ’90s college rock as mentors Black Rebel, their music is nonetheless more winsome and fuzzily tuneful than their black-clad contemporaries. Opener ‘Wheel’ has the kind of careering chorus that makes your heart beat faster, while ‘Upside Down’ is charmingly lacksadaisical fuzz-rock and ‘Dynamite’ even has a game stab at patenting a whole new genre with its fractured power pop/folk hybrid. Yes, only a fool would argue that absolutely each and every one of Mad Action’s songs are of such a high grade – more than a few tonight are slight enough to get lost in the chatter by the bar. But the pair are both head-spinningly prolific (when they signed to their new label, Loog, they arrived with over 200 completed songs, possibly in a battered suitcase) and currently in the studio with car commercial-friendly Lightning Seeds popsmith Ian Broudie, so it won’t be long before Mad Action ditch the ballast, conclusively proving that their mundane personal appearance is just a front for a special, special band.

Pat Long