The Rumble Strips: King’s College, London; Wednesday, November 15
They may parp like loons, but they get more pants than Take That these days
From Madness to The Zutons, via 80 per cent of ska bands and the twat in the jester’s hat playing in every unsigned funk-rock power jammin’ party band, music history is scarred with a particularly nasty type of aural violation – brass. You know, wacky trumpet parps, woozy saxophones, people trying to express themselves through instruments best left for clowns and orchestras or the quiet dignity of a Salvation Army band.
So how then do The Rumble Strips get away with two of these potentially excruciating instruments? First off, there’s no comedic intent here and less still any efforts at extroverted showmanship. Sticking rigidly to the spot, the Devonshire four pour out wry tales of lost love and frustration with a modest, self-effacing charm. ‘Hate Me You Do’, with its opening line “My television, your television, in different rooms”, pieces together the most succinct kitchen sink sentiments and is rewarded with an air of collective sympathy. Frontman Charlie Waller even gets collective “aaahhh”s when his tales take a turn for the worse.
Ah yes, Charlie. Bashful frontman, erstwhile member of Vincent Vincent And The Villains (whose ramshackle rockabilly influence is tattooed on his sleeve, just under the anchor), indispensable lynchpin and loveable anti-hero. Witness the knickers thrown at him, witness, too, his embarrassment, playing with the offending panties, red-faced, finally deciding to pocket the token of the crowd’s collective admiration.
It’s hard not to love this band of simple souls, whether they’re star-jumping to ‘Born Bored’ (from the excellent recent ‘Cardboard Coloured Dreams’ EP) or swaying to the more introspective ‘Oh Creole’. Their tumbling anthems are as captivating as the grizzly yarns of your greying uncle. Anyone who’s heard songs like the tragic ‘No Soul’ knows there’s no happy ending, but we still pray for his salvation. “If only this bike could fly”, Charlie croons on ‘Motorcycle’ and we clasp our hands together in the hope that it will.
An evening of comedic brass-powered parables then, and not a trilby-topped goose-stepping tosser in sight? Keep up the good work, Rumble Strips.