Arts Centre, Norwich, Monday 9th May

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Live Review: Rolo Tomassi

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Live Review: Rolo Tomassi

When it comes to heavy rock, it must be noted that however one plays the game, one will surely wind up looking silly. Silly as a drunk guy with ‘SILLY’ scrawled upon his forehead. Silly as two teaspoons poking at a fishcake. Silly as the word ‘silly’ likely sounds in your head by now.

Yet, it’s not how silly, or bat-eaty, or just plain batshit crazy a band is that elevates them to greatness; rather whether they have the balls-out virulence to persuade you of their god-given right to act in such a manner. The good news is that [a]Rolo Tomassi[/a] are a gang duly disposed to grasp this fundamental by the throat, and propelled by Eva Spence’s banshee-like writhes of vocal and body, they look and sound pummellingly spectacular.

The bad news? Well, while the folks onstage issue forth godly flames of invigorating ire, the vibe on this humid summer’s eve is nigh-on stamped into nonexistence by a depressingly fringed audience, most of whom wouldn’t know a moshpit if they were thrust aloft and rhythmically fondled by one. Lucky for them (for entertainment’s sake, less so), there’s about as much chance of that happening tonight as of Eva diffidently chirping, “Sorry guys, it’ll be Tune-Yards covers only tonight – our drummer has left to pursue a career in cattle rearing.” By which we mean, tu fucking rêves, Sally.

This is the sound of five pleasure-seekers preaching a visceral vitality, whose subtly voracious sexual appetite is one that most of tonight’s attendees never bothered to dream of. “We wanna see you going for it!” yells James (more as a plea than rallying cry) before the northern rockers tear into a jive that sounds like someone’s slowed down [a]Slipknot[/a]’s [b]‘Duality’[/b] and sped up [a]The Doors[/a]’ [b]‘Light My Fire’[/b] and bashed the two together into a bafflingly toothsome sort of meat and ice cream lasagna.

As it is, save for one preposterously fired-up geography teacher, the reaction is reverent but restrained, although this ought not distract from the pile-driving awesomeness of the show itself. This is hardcore, albeit one-sided. Long may [a]Rolo Tomassi[/a] reign – and may those flapdoodle haircuts fuel their wildfire.

Jazz Monroe