Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Seen It>>ATP I'll Be Your Mirror at Alexandra Palace - 27.05.2012

Halfway through the final day of the I’ll Be Your Mirror weekend, was recently reunited indie punks Archers of Loaf. The North Carolina-based quartet reformed early last year after disbanding in 1998, and had played the ATP’s Nightmare Before Christmas event last December, which was curated by Les Savy Fav. They were famous for their energetic shows and, even older and balder as they were, they still showed they could still rock as hard, with bassist Matt Gentling energetically leaping around the stage like an excited child on Christmas morning. Playing the first and, so far, only show of their “tour of Palaces”, they drew a small but passionate and vocal audience, who bellow out the words to “Audiowhore,” “Plumbline” and “You and Me,” as if they had never been away. The final two songs of the set, “Web in Front” and “Nostalgia”, draw frantic bouncing and moshing from the crowd, to signal an energetic show that was highly enjoyable.

The locally-based 90s revivalists, Yuck, were at home on a bill that include three reunited bands, whose heydays were all in that decade. On opener “Chew”, with its wall-of-sound guitars, you get a feel of their My Bloody Valentine influences, whilst the ensuing boisterous “Holing Out”, is more from the Dinosaur Jr textbook and it gets the crowd bopping along. They seem to feel very nervous on stage, showing a lack of stage presence, with frontman Daniel Blumberg shyly thanking ATP for having them on their bill. The distortion-powered “Get Away” draws the loudest cheers from the crowd, before they end on the 9-minute long “Rubber”, a long lo-fi stretch of reverb and distortion. Overall, it was a decent set, but nothing special.

The Make Up, having recently reformed for I’ll Be Your Mirror following a twelve year hiatus, were greeted by a large audience. Their sound was a mixture of post-punk atmosphere, with gospel keyboards and garage rock guitars, a complete contrast to the other day’s bands. The madcap frontman, Ian Svenonious, who was previously with the Nation of Ulysses, was almost as excitable as the audience, with his high-flying scissor kicks greeting his every highly-charged word. Think Mick Jagger fronting The Strokes and you’ll get a brief image of his on stage behaviour. He spent a significant amount of time in the audience, climbing on top of audience members, in order to get closer to the crowd and spread his word like the rock preacher he so naturally is. Before long, he returns to the stage, confidently serenading the audience with the funky “We‘re Having a Baby” and “Every Baby Cries the Same”. The most eclectic band on the bill, showed why there were in a league of their own, providing the perfect spiritual rejuvenation  for a tired audience, and granting the perfect warm up. Although they were the penultimate band of the weekend, they could have easily topped the bill, which would have still left the crowd going home happy.

With sweltering temperatures both outside and inside, The Afghan Whigs turned up the heat, with a blistering set that brought the house down and the event to a emotionally drained climax. After thirteen years away and a couple of prior shows, including Jimmy Fallon’s talk show, Hollywood and New York comeback shows and the Pinkpop festival, the Ohio band were back and were in scintillating form. Whilst not as big as most of their Sub Pop contemporaries in the early 90s, they made up for it in critical acclaim and cult status. Greg Dulli’s smouldering soulful rock chargers opened up with the noir-esque “Crime Scene Part I”, before launching into the highly-powered “I’m Her Slave.” But it wasn’t until the likes of “What Jail is Like” and “Gentlemen”, that the roof threatened to blow off and Dulli’s vocals were drowned out by the bellowing screams of the intoxicated, passionate audience, who seemingly had waited many years for the chance to sing these anthems again and even with the Whigs being the final band of the weekend, the energy inside wasn’t sapped. Dulli told the audience to keep dehydrated due to the baking conditions, before deciding on the draining “66” and “Debonair”, that had the entire audience bouncing for one last time. “Faded”, over 8 minutes long, gave the audience a chance to get their energy back in time for the encore. They returned to rapturous applause, delivering a four song encore. The final part, “Miles iz Ded”, proved to be the perfect parting gift, with a large congregation of singing along to ‘Don’t forget the alcohol…ooh baby’, to many a raised pint glass. Even after well over a decade away, The Afghan Whigs prove to be more in demand and as powerful as ever, leaving many middle-aged men dewy-eyed after a riveting and mesmerising show.

Overall it was a great day of music, but the show did certainly belong to The Afghan Whigs.

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