A resplendent and unique venue gets a dose of sci-fi electro carnage. Polish Eagle Club, Nottingham (March 13)
Entering the Polish Eagle Club through a web of silver streamers leads you into another world. Dark wood-finished walls and retro lamps ooze with mid-communist-era austerity. But in stark juxtaposition to the ’60s decor hang sparkling chandeliers, a very large disco-ball and, above the stage, rows of large medieval-looking coats of arms. The beer-soaked interiors of the grotty Barfly et al are a million miles away from this. As the vision unfolds, the extent of the night’s oddness becomes more apparent. These jarring snapshots from conflicting times, thrown together and seemingly cut off from reality, make the Polish Eagle Club an avant-garde venue – and one only made weirder by the arrival of Late Of The Pier, who manifest onstage in the centre of this dream vision like travellers from the future, re-emerging in the present after getting lost in a time tunnel. Tonight they’re myth-makers and more: homecoming victors, here to celebrate the end of their first major UK tour… or rather the opening phase of their mission to subvert a nation of music-lovers with their eccentric partisan pop. Twisting post-Klaxons synth soundscapes into Zappa-esque prog squirls, delirious new wave reworkings and euphoric dance, it’s their rocket-fuel concoction that has propelled the band out of the confines of Nottingham’s dank indie clubs on to an upward trajectory that’ll stop at nothing until it hits the sun.
However, before it’s their turn to unleash Hades-in-a-microKORG, the night’s first revelation comes in the form of Bordeaux’s fright-tronic harbingers Kap Bambino, the fearsome French duo that take eight-bit terrorcore to a level that leaves Crystal Castles pussy-footing around in the playground. Dressed like a ’20s jazz queen sent for a Shoreditch refit, femme fatale Caroline Martial fronts the circuit-board theatrics, yelping down the microphone as if her body is spasming from the electroshock treatment. The Polish regulars who have turned up to see what the yoof are doing to their beloved club house look disarmed, as she tears at the stage curtains with such voracity it’s a wonder she doesn’t shake the ceremonial sword above the stage off its hinges and into the skull of a hipster below. Yet before long the Zywiec-swigging gents give up looking sour-faced and pull out dance moves never before seen this side of the Iron Curtain. Before tonight’s main turn, affable
Late Of The Pier bassist Andrew Faley anxiously admits he’s “not really sure how things are going to pan out – anything could happen tonight”. His fears are to go unfounded – the gig’s a blinder, culminating in stage invasions, kit destruction and crowdsurfing – but it’s healthy to see the band taking nothing for granted. As the beckoning strains
of ‘Hot Tent Blues’ fill the room like the seductive voice of a hypnotist, sartorially resplendent girls dressed as ’50s waitresses wrestle with face-painted young ghouls plucked straight from a Horrors gig to try and get the best view. With the wild outfits only adding to the surrealism, a troupe of tin-foil clad performance artists cartwheeling out of the wings wouldn’t look out of place.
We’re only four songs in before the first drunk stage-invader has fallen over the drumkit, the dancefloor anthem-in-waiting ‘Space & The Woods’ having stoked his wild intoxication moments before. The stage lights reflecting off Sam Eastgate’s guitar sparkle and split during the ethereal ‘Heartbeat, Flicker, Line’ as they hit the diamond chandelier above the gyrating crowd, showering them in colour. It’s a scene of space-age excess that’s as idiosyncratic as the band that tonight plays its soundtrack. Between songs, ministerial button-fiddler Potter offers sermon-like advice to the eager crowd. “Be friends! Come together! And DANCE!” We dutifully obey as he unveils his own erratic, flailing moves. By brain-bending recent single ‘The Bears Are Coming’, the crowd are spinning up a vortex into another realm. In a moment of madness Potter throws caution to the wind, and with it the bed-slats used for percussion into the crowd, who tear the one-off instrument to shreds. New song ‘The Enemy Are The Future’ is a deep disco thumper that has nothing to do with Tom Clarke taking over the world, priming an audience explosion as LOTP segue straight into ‘Bathroom Gurgle’, the sleazy pop system-shocker that’s already gained a cult disco status. As its climatic final bars ricochet through the venue, Sam stagedives to sing its final lines, and is held aloft like a true homecoming hero. And so, having spun their wild vision of the future, they leave the crowd baying for more. Filing out of the venue back into the Nottingham rain feels like waking from a trance. Tonight Late Of The Pier are a living, breathing sci-fi comic book adventure, proof that a gig can be anything. All it takes is a little imagination.