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Baptiste / Bikini Atol / Mako 27th April 2001 Camden Underworld

Last week we lounged on fusty velvet sofas listening to the Velvet Underground and the currently obligatory Strokes at Baptisite's club night 'Uptight'. This week Baptiste have organised their very own gig for our entertainment. Flapping our fliers in the face of the box-office girl we are ushered into the little-used side entrance to the Underworld. It seems this isn't a big gala event, the main bar is closed, possibly because the venue is having a make-over, the whole place reeking of fresh (orange) paint.

First up are Mako, four young things, including a rather irritating guitarist in a straw cowboy hat who gurns like Dave Hill from Slade (without the teeth. Or hair. Or spangly outfits) and throws ridiculous rock shapes culminating in the splits. Fortunately, the Johnny Marr-a-like singer does some louche Bobby Gillespie mic-leaning to make up for his oafish bandmate. Some good moves don't cover up the fact that Mako are an anaemic Thee Hypnotics. Full marks for giving it some satanic majesty attitude to an empty dancefloor, mind.
In the tiny cramped side bar afterwards, someone proffers a congratulatory hand to J. Marr-blokey, but he miserably spurns this goodwill gesture, muttering, 'That was shit'. It was a bit, wasn't it? He looks like he's going to cry.

Baptiste flyer

Bikini Atol's U.S.P. is Nigella Lawson playing unhinged whirly keyboards. Okay, so it's not actually Nigella, but it amuses us to pretend it is, as she tosses her locks hither and thither, thrusts out her chest and generally gives it a bit of Rick Wakeman on the keys. The sound features Velvets phrasing, churny guitars and of course mental fairground noises. Things are looking up.

Baptiste are five solemn blokes in dark suits and white shirts (the quick 'n' easy option for creating a unified look on stage, see also Scarfo, 'Munki' era Mary Chain, a zillion other bands). Their backdrop features projections of a succession of 1940s lovelies, all marcel waves and firmly upholstered glamour. They have an utterly utterly gorgeous black & white Rickenbaker. Starting with an instrumental which is all Felt keyboards and ringing guitars, Baptiste create a warm luxurious sound. The sun shining on chilled bones. The next song begins rather gothily with circling Cure-like guitar, before tumbling into a driving Velvets beat behind sky-rocketing guitars which eventually twist into a feedback finale. Most of all, the songs recall the dusty lushness of 'Darklands' era Mary Chain, as gentle chiming guitars become washes of fuzz.
They end on, 'Kissing With Your Eyes Open', very William Reid chords and a melodica (what is it with bands and these things, lately?) enhanced chorus. Lovely. All the electric stars are shining.

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