Live (Last Days of Lorca)
Taking an age to set up the stage can be a dire warning of incompetence to come or a clever build-up to a musical treat. In this case, it was the latter, as Last Days of Lorca wasted no time launching into a blistering set that had me out of my seat and nodding along furiously.
This tight, polished four-piece have a military precision to their political subject matter and undisguised scorn for war-mongering leaders and environmental fallout. At least, this is the distinct impression of the flickering cinefilm running through the entire set.
Beautifully edited to alternate uncomfortably between the sublime and the grotesque, the cinematography is the perfect foil to the jittery fractious riffs. The film and subject matter is reminiscent of Hope of the States, but the guitar-fuelled thrashing passion of the music owes more to System of a Down.
Last Days of Lorca play with dazzling precision and style – like a tightly coiled spring held strainingly in check. The bassist’s deft fingers dance along the strings while the drummer punishes the drums like a well-controlled chemistry experiment. If Radiohead had more gusto, this is what Pablo Honey might’ve sounded like.
Last Days of Lorca steer clear of any contrived song structure, preferring to skip around an obvious chorus in a series of playful yet dangerous riffs. They don’t make the fatal mistake of all playing at once but give the illusion of the music taking its own course. Forgive the simile overload, but it’s like a fast-moving spider entangling you in its web. You’re hooked before you realise it.
Lead singer, Pete Lambrou, speaks little between songs, and the lyrics themselves are muffled and inaudible. Sporting ‘Byron’ on the back of his football shirt, one suspects the words have a poetry to them that seems fittingly inaccessible.
The band’s dry, deadpan reserve means the set starts to drag a little towards the end. Taking the music seriously is commendable, but any live set needs a bit of audience interaction.
Momentum is restored in one of the final tracks of the night; ‘Big Green Parcel Machine’, which bounds along apace with ever-changing funky bass and militant drums. The screen quivers with Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of the human anatomy as the song weaves and twists its way over new tempos, loaded pauses and melodic harmonies. Mesmerising.
Last Days of Lorca would be a hard band for anyone to follow, and the final act of the night, The Tribes, have come prepared with a small army of fans. Unfazed by the previous band’s skill, The Tribes bask in the confidence of having already won over half the audience.
And their confidence translates well to meaty, guitar-fuelled riffs that build with infectious fury and a drummer who deserves 10/10 for playing his socks off. It’s the Strokes via stadium rock in the karaoke ilk of Metallica.
The songs have an end-of-the-night, anthemic quality that could be mimicked with gusto by ageing indie kids on a Saturday night bender. It’s theatrical, entertaining stuff, but one suspects The Tribes are a bit of a one-trick pony.
The drums and bass are the most impressive elements, but the singer lacks the gravely power of James Hetfield to match them. This flattened the otherwise powerful chords as the instruments trundle over the same riffs in the background.
Compared to Last Days of Lorca, The Tribes seem crowd-pleasing rather than challenging, and without more experimentation and diversity, could become two-dimensional.