Live (Bib / Zex / Plastik / Royal Treatment Plant)
The deBretts’ brilliance is fast outstripping my ability to find new superlatives for them, so before the well done gone run dry, here’s a few more: a tea party at an anger management class; beauty’s revenge on mediocrity; the most exciting newcomers since Matt Bianco. And by the way, did you ever notice how ‘ravage’ and ‘ravish’ are almost the same word if you say them huskily enough?
Tonight our heroes and heroine have turned impresarios, and we have four other bands to amuse our palates. Royal Treatment Plant are sartorially fascinating. The guitarist is dressed for a shooting party at Balmoral and the bass player is impersonating a schoolboy. The languid singer, Princess P, drips careless attitude.
They could be the perfect band on paper but still need the jolt of electricity required to bring their attractive creation to life. There’s a Grand National-sized field of bands who sound a bit like Blondie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the moment and you’ve gotta be exceptional to stand out.
Plastik are more fun; a hint of what might have been had the Stooges been nice English boys. The sound is pure lava and their range is immense. Anyone whose sound takes in power pop, Pink Floyd, the Pixies, ultra-English indie and much more really is courting the ‘P’ word, but it’s OK to be prog these days, as long as you don’t sing about dragons, and I don’t think they do. Truly excellent.
What better to follow that than the theme from ‘The Sweeney’ done by Stereolab, or are Zex just soundchecking? Their whole set has something of the soundcheck about it; efficient but rather bloodless new wave with ZX Spectrum noises.
One song, for Giorgio Moroder’s sake, might be ‘Electric Dreams’, but the air of indifference is stifling. The last one adds some funk and slightly lifts the tempo, but really this is Joy Division if Ian Curtis had been a bit bored rather than suicidal. Where’s your gusto, guys?
Maybe Bib pinched it all. The cutely named London foursome could be a gigantic send-up ( Sacha Baron Cohen fronting Electric Six), but this is too special to be satire.
Yes, the silliness is cranked up past 11, but the combination of delightful songs – Blur by way of synth craziness by way of the Cure in a good mood – and the band’s passion and charisma creates a strange alchemy. The atmosphere shifts from warm amusement to all-out love very quickly, and you can just feel the joy flowing off the stage. There’s a new cult in town.
It’s a show-stealing performance but the deBretts aren’t accustomed to conceding the limelight. They promised more theatrical gigs from now on, so I’m delighted to report that Vonnie is serenaded by dancing hamsters and then we all fly off to Mars. ( Shut it, you git, they’re saving that for the world tour, mutters a source close to the band.)
There is an interesting interlude involving a disposable plastic dress, but the real fireworks come, as ever, from Vonnie’s intensity and the guys’ buzzsaw sound. Is there a band today making such a transcendent racket? Jewels such as ‘Is It Me’ and ‘Animal’ are present, correct and if anything, somehow both more polished and more frenzied than before.
Gorgeous on record but awe-inspiring live, they will take your heart by force.
Written by McLaughlin on