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Dawn Of The Replicants / The Vinyls / Alternative 3 21st November 2002 Water Rats

Hmm, so Alternative 3 seem to be a sort of duo being Sneaker Pimps, but without the freako hipster-goth spook vibe (or the fat bloke). It’s all tres 1980s, up to and including the singer’s dire rat-taily hair ‘do’ and a Roland keyboard, so Kitten drifts off into an eighties-haze, wishing she’d been able to see Duran Duran when they rooled the world (i.e. 1982). Sadly and somewhat surprisingly they never played rural Suffolk, so jumping about to ‘Hold Back The Rain’ etc never happened. Come to again to the sound of another vaguely pleasant beepy, swooshy keys ‘n’ guitar ditty, this time A3 are being Depeche Mode when the Mode were sweetly plinky plonky beepy types from Essex, as opposed to heroin scoffing sleazebeasts from the darkside.

plinky plonky beepy
stoned and dethroned Now the name The Vinyls conjures up images of yet another, possibly Swedish, thrusting young squeaky punkpop garage band. It also reminds Kitten of The Divinyls, purveyors of 1991 perfect perv pop hit ‘I Touch Myself’. Ahh, happy memories of their entire lp being played before Spiritualized took the stage at the ICA. The Divinyls record sounded fantastic, but then Kitten may well have been out of her tiny mind at the time. Er, where were we? Oh yes, so The Vinyls have nothing to do with the above, but a fair bit to do with Mazzy Star. There’s a Chrissie Hynde girl with a gorgeous country-tinged, late-nights ‘n’ early morns cracked voice singing a soft slow smoked out number. Lyrics, ‘I’m the world’s sweet talking girl’. She takes up an acoustic guitar for the second song which begins as a lulling lullaby and builds strummingly, Madder Rose style.
Then there’s a warm fug of a song called, but of course, ‘Medication’. ‘A spoonful of sugar makes the medication go down easier…bad thoughts come and good thoughts go, we’re moving slow’. This is where Primal Scream would have gone with their country rock vibe on ‘Give Out But Don't Give Up' if they hadn’t been so pompously addled. The final song, ‘Can’t Face The Sun’ sounds like waking on last night’s ash-greyed carpet, squinting as stale dust motes float in the bright crack between the curtains. Sweetly stoned and dethroned.
Last time Kitten marvelled at Dawn of the Replicants was in July 1999. Singer Paul Vickers was really verrry drunk and made some amusing comments about owls. You had to be there really. Anyway, Paul’s back with some new band members, including new! added! girl wearing a gold sequinned top and playing keyboards, theremin and clarinet. She insists on being called Miss Hypnotique. Fair enough. We get a big bundle of new stuff from latest lp ‘Touching The Propeller’ (hard to find in shops – cheers), ‘cos as Paul says ‘I’m sure you can stay with us, ‘cos you’re a London audience and it’s all about…progression.’
it’s all about…progression
Icky liquid dribbling

So things kick off with ‘Black & White Rainbows’ a fairly straight-forward piece of quirk pop. Paul’s lurching about in a duffle coat with a clipped on old skool BBC pass. A quick nod to past splendours with a theremintastic sludge ‘n’ grind version of ‘Science Fiction Freak’. My heart soars with the chorus and I remember why I was so excited that this band was back.

Things get even more exciting, when Paul announces that they have a copy of Vogue, ‘The latest issue!’ signed by the band to give away, but there is a price to be paid for such bounty in the form of ‘a liquid drink which I shall prepare’. This turns out to be a banana milkshake which is lovingly blended Live! Onstage! Icky liquid dribbling from the bottom of the blender threatening a bizarre electric/banana rock ‘n’ roll death. Some silly boy in the crowd downs the drink and wins the prize. Again, you probably had to be there.

‘Hollywood Hills’ jerkily thuds along in a demented waltz with Paul singing lustily as Miss H’s clarinet trills up and down. I do like a nice clarinet, this is the second one in as many weeks, what with Great Lakes inaudible attempts at woodwind. The grubby surly ‘I’m Leaving Town’ features a fantastic clarinet kettle-boiling screech and Paul scowling ‘I’m leaving town…’cos if I stay I’ll burn the bastard down.' Pleased to see Paul still has his glitter-fan, but now it’s bigger! better! Rather than some piddly-assed fan, he holds aloft yer proper big room fan and tips on enough glitter to keep several hundred Blue Peter presenters happy throughout the Christmas card making season, whipping up a twinkly glitter storm.

Argh! It’s a rumbling growly version of Rhinestone Cowboy’, glitter winking appropriately from hair and dufflecoat. There’s an interlude whilst the audience shouts out requests for every Replicants song ever. It’s nice to be at a gig where everyone’s really up for it and thoroughly enjoying themselves, rather than standing there sullenly in try-too-hard threads ‘cos it’s the place to be.

At one point Paul burbles, ‘Oh God I’ve just realised I’m on stage’ as the odd and slivery songs come and go. Jaunty new single ‘Rockefeller Centre’ and the ‘slightly epic’ ‘Smoke Without Fire’ complete with beautifully played theremin. When I hear Dawn of the Replicants I imagine the odd and disturbing fairy tale imagery Tim Burton does so perfectly. All scratchy shadows and nastily twisted trees with snatching fingers.

sprikly twinkly

Encore is a ‘Phoenix Nights’ version of ‘Cocaine On The Catwalk’, with squonky organ, not quite catching the song’s spooky rush in full, but still a million stumbling miles down a dark, winding road from yer current crop of straight up rocksters.

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