The Long Blondes/De Nieuwe Vrolijkheid Rotown and the Paradiso, 5 & 6/12/06

Incendiary are instructed into the nefarious arts of necktie tying (bow tie for the gents and a style that shall henceforth be known as “The Jackson” for the ladies).


The Long Blondes/De Nieuwe Vrolijkheid Rotown and the Paradiso, 5 & 6/12/06


Now far be it from me to get excited but this for Incendiary was a bill made in heaven. Lashings of glamorous pop fun would be dished out by the Blondes, that was for sure; and the weird intensity of de Nieuwe Vrolijkheid would be a sight indeed in their first foray outside of the sink gigs they'd been playing the previous year. The Long Blondes are breaking news over in Holland. And both gigs were sell outs. Rotown in particular was buzzing with expectation and plenty of young ladies with scarves were seen flitting about. To be honest this was something of an event.


As usual with de Nieuwe Vrolijkheid something went awry with their set up. An amp blew in Rotown and a rather subdued gig ensued. Still, their brand of Syd Barrett-tinged psychosis actually silenced the Rotown crowd (normally so unforgiving to support bands, witness Monster Bobby) into submission. Somehow by just snarling their way through (albeit with a depleted sound) they got their message across. Their tense, savagely clipped version of I Know How You Die was particularly brilliant.


It's not long before the Blondes decide to take the stage. What is very appealing is the way they greet the audience with smiles and waves, I really wish more bands would be less gauche and selfish and take a look at how The Blondes connect with their audience. Screeching straight into Lust in the Movies the band are assured and relaxed. And hell, you have to say, as a band they do look bloody good. There's something about playing Dutch clubs that seems to suits them; maybe it's the relaxed intimacy of the whole thing, whatever it is Kate Jackson is obviously revelling in her role of interpreter extraordinaire of guitarist Dorian's songs. The Piaf-style chanteuse breaks out in her handling of tracks such as Weekend without Make Up and Only Lovers Left Alive. It's also nice to see that they play the odd B-side; Fulwood Babylon is a great song and breaks up the rather giddy nature of their set. By the time the last track Separated by Motorways (where Emma and Reenie once again join in the vocal duties) is belted out - and I mean belted out, Rotown is a bobbing around in a very happy way.


On to Amsterdam. A broken bus (frenzied texts inform me that apparently the Blondes spent 4 hours watching crap movies in a bus garage) necessitates a quick sound-check for both bands. De Nieuwe Vrolijkheid have been playing patience for at least 3 hours and there's only so much card fun you can have to be honest. By the time of the gig however all is well and for once the Vrolijkheid are able to get a good sound and revel in it. This has to be the best I have ever seen them. Incendiary have always known that this lot had potential, but we just thought it was us alone. Judging by the stunned silence and nodding heads, the audience is beginning to get it too. Light Feet sounds like a cut from Piper at the Gates of Dawn whereas Winter is a beautiful slab of Radiohead, albeit with pop hooks and harmonies. The arrangements are much better managed, and the sheer quirkiness of the trombone in between scintillating guitar breaks is heady stuff indeed. There's also a brilliant Mellotron break in there too. Hats off to them, they could be on the cusp of great things.


It's the same set as last night, the same flashing smiles and waves, the same thumping beat. A Long Blondes gig does sometimes feel like a teenage party in your parents house, that same sense of giddy abandon which you know can't last. Five Ways to End It and Giddy Stratospheres are particularly strong, and the crowd get down in the Upstairs Room. The band know that a sense of intimacy is vital to their shows and the crowd are only too willing to oblige, cheering them on. A fabulous gig ended by Motorways, a final wave and they're off.


Later in the evening, Incendiary are instructed into the nefarious arts of necktie tying (bow tie for the gents and a style that shall henceforth be known as "The Jackson" for the ladies), and cheese and salmon eating. So giddy are the stratospheres attained that an impromptu version of some of Mr Franz Bauer's hits does not seem amiss. Life's never dull with these two bands.


Words: Richard Foster.