The rest of the band had clearly raided mum's drawers and dressed up as (you guessed it), a band.
First up, an account by Brother Damian.
Day two began with a family reunion and a lot of alcohol. In fact, by the time I met up with my fellow Incendiary heads I'd already drank what can only rightly be described as a skin full. Still, it was only 4pm and there was a long way to go. A few more drinks with some fellow journalists and a bunch of young upstarts called The Rakes (of which there'll be more on later) made the rest of the afternoon turn quite nicely into a blurry evening before an emergency falafel was devoured prior to entering the Paradiso.
Sensing that my professional duties would be hampered somewhat if I carried on drinking lager I made the decision to switch to Cola, but the minging stuff they serve in this venue is akin to drinking bat's piss, or so I'd imagine, so a couple of pints of water would do, but then that costs a fortune in here so I decided to carry on drinking lager anyway. Still, you're getting a review, so what do you care?
The Go! Team (isn't that exclamation mark annoying?) were first on, upstairs in the Belfry. Happy go lucky chaps and chappesses they are too. Too bloody happy by far actually! Well, the wee pappa girl rapper was at least. "Everybody at the back say YEAH! Everybody in the middle say YEAH! Everybody at the front say YEAH! Everybody on the right say YEAH! Everybody on the left say YEAH!! All the men say...." Oh bloody get on with it will you? This happening once would have been bad enough, but it happened again and again. After. Every. Single. Bastard. Song. Crowd participation is great, but you have to earn it. This was cringe-worthy.
It's a shame because, musically, I think they aren't that bad at all. Sounding like a bizarre mix of Northern Soul and cheesy 70's tv soundtracks (Ironside/Starsky and Hutch/Jason King) they create some wonderfully camp and ridiculously bombastic and groovy (theme) tunes. Add to this mix the type of old school rapping that made the Sugarhill Gang so ridiculously infectious and I expected to like these guys a lot, but apart from the (truly annoying) "Everybody in the house..." shenanigans, I simply couldn't hear what Ninja (as I believe she likes to call herself) was rapping on about when the music was playing. The music was very good, I have to say, but Ninja was the focal point and sadly, it just felt like she was trying too hard. In the end she was asking everyone to shout "GO! TEAM. GO! TEAM" and people around me were shouting GO! HOME! I think that tells its own story.
Aberfeldy were next up in the Main Hall. People were still arriving in droves, desperate to get to the bar and so it was obvious from the start that, no matter how good their songs about Vegetarian restaurants and Heliopololopolis's (or whatever) were, Aberfeldy were facing a battle they could never win. As usual in the Paradiso, the crowd had a tendency to want to hear their own voices rather than those on stage and so this amiable bunch from the heart of Scotland played what I thought was a decent set, but they were pretty much ignored for the most part. I look forward to seeing them come back here though, for their own show. Maybe then they'll get the attention they deserve.
Back in the belfry, The Departure wandered onstage armed with school uniforms and the worst haircuts seen outside of a Duran Duran video. But who cares 'cause they were bloody brilliant! Apart from a couple of songs where the lead guitar just disappeared, which sent roadies scrambling around in a state of panic, their show was focused, fat free and absolutely staggering. Harking back to an era of music that only The Killers have been mining recently, this 80's flashback band were superb. Smart lyrics, downbeat outlook, deadpan delivery and well worn school jumpers. The Killers have Brandon Flowers, which is a cool name, but The Departure have the songs. I want to hear more of them.
The Subways took to the main stage at 9:15, if only because they had to be in bed by ten. They're so young it's unbearable. They play as fast as only sexually motivated teenagers can and they make one hell of a racket. We liked them. A lot. They may not be able to buy a drink. Hell, they look like they'd have trouble buying fags but they've got a handful of rocking, punky tunes and they jump around the stage with such energy and passion for what they're doing that you just can't help join in. They will make you feel old though (unless you're under sixteen) and if you're a bloke, the bass player will make you feel like a dirty old man as well. Fabulous stuff.
The Rakes. We love 'em. They are lovely gentlemen, one and all. But mad on stage. Completely! Well and truly bonkers.
We may have been out drinking with them all afternoon but we take no... Well, we take some... Ok, ok, we take full responsibility for delivering this bunch of crazed, wide eyed individuals to the Kleine Zaal of the Paradiso but we refuse to apologise for anything. Especially after they delivered a set as marvellous as this was. They look like they type of guys who would ask for a chemistry set for Christmas rather than a guitar, but appearances are deceptive. For instance, the mild mannered, eloquent young gentleman I spoke too in the afternoon bore little resemblance to the ping-pong ball eyed lunatic singer who bounced around on stage in his Fred Perry t-shirt, hugging his guitar player and thrusting his hands and legs in the air like he was watching a Jane Fonda workout video. Simple, direct and totally thrilling, the Rakes blew the roof off. It ended with our once mild mannered friend lying on his back over the monitors, arm raised, screaming the mantra "Amsterdam, it's all fucked. It's all fucked," repeatedly. We should have carried them from the room like heroes. Outstanding.
After that momentous half hour, we had to wander into the Main hall and sit through half on hour of Hal's brand of bland pop rock. They are to the Thrills what Embrace were to Oasis, which may sound a little harsh but it's true. They're not bad, but there's no spark there. Every song is played at such a standard middle (of the road) tempo that even when they come up with some crafty chord changes nothing ever really seems to get your energy levels up. Plus I still think that the noise the singer makes when trying to reach a high note is akin to somebody scraping their nails down a blackboard. If they upped the tempo a little, then I may check them out again, but at the moment I wouldn't care if I ever saw this bunch of skinny Irishmen ever again.
Due to a series of circumstances only partly beyond my control, that was where I had to call an end to this evening, but my dear friend and fellow Incendiary head Richard hung around to catch the final two acts. He'll let you in on what happened...
Oh, cheers, Damain, as if I was in any state to tell anyone anything about that night, but shucks, I'll try. Art Brut carried on the night's young band vibe (Lordy, they're all so young these days). I find it encouraging, too, that all these youngsters seem to be enthralled by some of my favourite records of the 80s; Heaven up Here, Hex Enduction Hour, Pink Flag, etc etc. I just wish they'd do it better. The lead singer didn't half remind me of Tony Hadley's fat younger brother. Or a twelve year old dressed as an undertaker. Luckily, (and this was the only really good thing about Art Brut) he didn't attempt to pilfer any of the aforementioned La Hadley's warbling, preferring a growling, harsh, squaawking delivery. As far as I could make out the lyrics were about awful things like mucus, blood drenched bodily parts, and death. Or something on those lines. The rest of the band had clearly raided mum's drawers and dressed up as (you guessed it), a band. I wondered when they would ever end.
The last act Sons & Daughters, are beloved of Franz Ferdinand, and have been talked of in the inkies as the Next Big Thing. Expectation was high, even in my mushroomed bubble. Sons and Daughters truly rocked out. They were surprisingly loud and passionate, actually, as I'd been primed by the tracks I'd heard to expect some folkish whimsy. In hindsight they were less inhibited than on the Franz support slot at the Heineken. They have some dark, rum thoughts inside their heads, children, and I think they are onto something; think an atonal Dexys without the soul boy bollocks. Buy their records and see them live. I entreat you.
Right, I'm going to have to stop here, as what happened later can only be described as surreal. In fact I wrote about it in the Rakes piece, so if you're interested, you can check that out. If you don't want to, you have my full sympathy. Suffice to say London Calling was, as ever, great fun. I only wish they'd think of a better name.
Words: Damian Leslie and Richard Foster