review archive

The Long Blondes / Chuck / Champion Kickboxer – Nambucca, 12th February 2005

Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporationn is a noble record label, notable for releasing delicious looking (and sounding) slabs of thick, coloured seven inch vinyl. Tonight the good folk of TSP are displaying their wares in the form of three bands who’ve recently taken a spin with the label. And what a disparate gaggle of noisters they are, which is no bad thing of course.

First up are Champion Kickboxer – none of whom look like award-winning sportsmen, but you never can tell. They weave together a curious sound; sinister, folky, pastoral with a menacing undertow, like walking through a forest at dusk. They kick off with their smash hit single (alright their recent single) ‘Like Him and Her and Her and Me’ which winds and curls like strangely scented smoke, lulling you with tuneful melancholy as it tick tocks its way round the room. vocals. The next song is a spangly hey nonny with fairytale keybaords set to ‘harp’ and falsetto vocals – but think Super Furries not Marillion. Not Marillion, no.

Then there’s a skipping folky number that excitingly sounds vaguely like ‘Grandad’ but with tricksy keyboard runs, plishy drums and ‘aahhhh’ backing vocals. And so it goes, with a cowbell, worrying keyboard sounds, spiralling voices and an effects pedal that accidentally plucks a passing radio station from the ether and transmits it as part of a song. Its like listening to left over tracks from Super Furry Animals’ ‘Mwng’, other-worldly, at odds with the here and now, ancient, organic. Champion Kickboxer sure are awkward buggers with their creepy crawly time signatures, odd keyboard noises and out of step tunes, but it all adds up to a tumbling, intriguing whole.

'I have no brainnn!!' Between bands, the DJ messes with my grip on the space/time continuum by playing The Cure’s ‘Fire in Cairo’ and in my head I’m doing homework in my bedroom, listening to ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ over and over. Then ‘Just Like Honey’ gets played and I’m a couple of years older playing my hot off the presses copy of ‘Psychocandy’ and trying to sort out my geography coursework. Before my life in sound can flash by my ears any further, Chuck come on and suddenly there’s a baldy man in glasses shouting ‘I have no brain!’ inna poppunk stylee.
Chuck rampage through a set that includes skanky garage riffin’, foolish punking, gurgling surf tunes, a thunderous, squealing Cossack song and a minute long psycho Crampsy sprawl. They’re certainly covering all bases, but I’m not that taken with it all. Luckily, lots of other folks are, waving their arms in the air to the final horror-rock number and clapping like billyo. I find a comfy chair, where all I can see is a distorted shadow of the band playing on the wall, which makes it all more entertaining somehow.
The Long Blondes have tunes built for executing perfect dance steps in pointy shoes. They have an air of pristine self-containment and like all the best bands they’ve got that gang thing going on; a three girl, two boy unit swathed in junk shop Biba-esque glamour threads.

Tonight’s entrée is the short, sharp ‘Darts’, barked out cheerily before the main course begins with ‘Autonomy Boy’, much to the delight of the furiously dancing girls at the front. Singer Kate, snappily smart and crisply eye-linered, owns the stage and the crowd – like a strict teacher that everyone fears and adores in equal measure. She is the strutting, stamping, ants in pants wiggling epicentre, cracking out lines about ‘making plans in the back of a cab’ and ‘going to a massage parlour wearing blue mascara’ in a swooning, slingshot voice.

Meanwhile, the rest of the band are kicking up a sound-storm of jagged, irresistibly wriggling tunes. Reenie, clad in a turquoise fur stole adds a splendid element of aloofness to playing the bass, beaming out a thrumming undertow to the crunchy jangle whipped up between guitarists Dorian and Emma.

Edie Sedewick
Anna Karina

The songs are tricksily stylish pop that veers gleefully with unexpected time changes, and a charming fifties swing. ‘Peterborough’ gets me every time with its false ending, yeah, yeah yeah. We get the epic ’Appropriation (By Any Other Name)’, the shifty rumbling of ‘Lust In The Movies’ with it’s brattish ‘I just want to be a sweet heart’ chant and the hiccuping ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ rush of ‘Once and Never Again’. Recent b-side ‘Polly’ is a fine sleek thing, turning its ankles to show off the bands fifties influences at their most blatant.

Finally there’s much excitement at the soaring single, ‘Giddy Stratospheres’ which crash lands satisfyingly into ‘Separated By Motorways’. ‘We love this song!’ everyone’s thinking, ‘Blimey, it’s brilliant, isn’t it?’ Then neatly, it all comes to a close. ‘Tish! Tish!’ go Screech’s drums. And with a click of her heels Kate announces, ‘Finished’.

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