It's the best in show...
With three of the hottest live dance bands in the world on the bill, by rights tonight’s show should go down in pop history as the moment club culture got its cool back. Instead, everyone’s talking about the bottom-of-the-bill LA trad garage-punk band who’ve never even played a UK show before. When you’re Juliette ‘Natural Born Killers’ Lewis, it seems, even a cruel 6.20pm showtime can’t keep you out of the spotlight. Strutting straight into the glare like a rutting peacock, Tinseltown’s goddess of odd puts on a convincing display. As the rest of The Licks pound through sleazy muscle-rock like ‘Comin’ Around’, Juliette – dressed in practically porno-tight white trousers, skinny shirt, tie and, er, knee pads – writhes like she’s spent the past five years watching Jim Morrison on freeze-frame.
But turning our attention to the other three non-celebrity endorsed bands on the bill, we must ponder the question: if they were a film star, who would they be? Girl/boy/black/white six-piece The Go! Team are definitely The Kids From Fame. Oozing community-project enthusiasm, they’re as endearing as Belle & Sebastian backing the Jackson 5. Even chatterbox frontwoman Ninja and her reluctance to sing a single note in tune can’t detract from the fact last single ‘Lady Flash’ is a liquid shot of happy hip-hop straight to the heart.
Belgian beat-battlers Soulwax are much harder to cast. Moody, monochrome and impossibly cool, they’re The Usual Suspects transported into a 1960s op-art installation. On a five-man mission to laugh in the face of anyone who ever said they should stick to playing other people’s records, the multi-tasking DJ-rockers strike off with two, erm, covers – an electrocised version of Kyuss’ sludge-rock ‘Slowburn’ and, later, Daft Punk B-side ‘Teachers’. Even during the synth-punk storm of ‘E Talking’, they can’t resist mixing in someone else’s tune (Alter Ego’s ‘Rocker’).
Tonight, Astoria, James Murphy is… (drum roll) Bill Murray. Self-deprecating, anti-fashion, deadpan and puffing on an inhaler, the LCD guy is the least likely superstar in the entire universe. Last time NME saw them it was – alongside meeting Elvis, turning 2,500 and not putting Menswear on the cover – one of the greatest moments of our life. Again tonight, hipster-baiting breakthrough ‘Losing My Edge’, the pounding ‘Yeah’ and an electric ‘Daft Punk Are Playing In My House’ reach similar levels of euphoria last experienced getting the Chris Martin exclusive. So it’s a shame when a lulling cover of Siouxie and the Banshees’ ‘Slowdive’ drags things to a less-than-satisfying close. A lot like Lost In Translation then.