review archive

Winter Sprinter: The Projects / The Loves / James William Hindle / Kicker
- 9th January 2004 Water Rats

Here she comes again with vodka in her veins… It’s Friday and the Winter Sprinter finale, but throughout the day, reports have been reaching us that suggest all may not be quite right on the night. Tompaulin have had to cancel due to a bereavement, The Loves are two band members down; Catrin’s gone to see Justin Timberlake and Pnosni is er…

Kicker have been reduced to a boyband three-piece, because singer Jill has the lurgey. But never fear, despite not having the extra edge of Soul that Jill brings, Kicker sound fantastic. Hurrah! Drummer Phil takes over main vocal duties, his voice deep and croony, reminiscent of Laurence from Felt. Adding to the Felty-ness is Ben’s sparkling guitar, sometimes jangley, sometimes West Coasty country rockin’. On bass is Andy, his missus, Sarah, is fiddling with a digital camera, trying to capture some Kicker action on moving film. When she shouts up at the stage for camera advice, Andy says, ‘I’m a bit busy right now.’ And so he is, adding fuzzed-up bass to the songs, creating bundles of buzzing indie loveliness. This is great, things are looking up.

Kicker? Or Busted?
James William Hindle gets drafted in as an eleventh hour replacement, I listen for a while. An Australian girl tells me she thinks he sounds like Darren Hanlon. Oh yeah, he does a bit. Hmm. I wander off to the bar to marvel at how Steven Track & Field Drew and the bloke from The Cutouts look exactly the same.
The Loves arrive. They’re on next. Hang on, two of The Loves arrive, the other two are in Camden or something. We take up positions in front of the stage anyway. Then, by the skin of their teeth, all The Loves are on stage. They are totally magnificent, splurging out a joyous helping of infectious goodtime bubblelicious pop-rock. The thing about The Loves is they wear their record collections on their sleeves, plundering left, right and centre, shamelessly nicking all the good bits. They have the courage of their convictions and it works fantastically. Simon Love even manages to get in a bit of audience participation with a clap-along, chant-along to ‘Depeche Mode.’ Audience: ‘My baby got…’ Simon: ‘Flowers in her hair’. Audience: ‘My baby got…’ Simon: ‘USA swimwear’ Audience: ‘My baby got…’ Simon: ‘A mobile phone’ Audience: ‘My baby got…’ Simon: ’Depeche Mode!’ The Loves:‘Biff bash, squoogle, plink, kerchoinggg!’ The other thing about The Loves is that they pilfer from the pop culture dressing up box to great effect, always looking like the perfect bubblegum gang. Stitch that, stylists.
Kerchoinggg!
The setlist seems to have gone to pot in the excitement, but mixed in with fab faves like ‘Boom-a-Bang-Bang-Bang’ and ‘Little Girl Blues’ there’s the excellent ‘Xs and Os’ and ‘I My She Love You’. It’s all over far too quickly but we can see unplayed songs on the (abandoned) setlist. The audience demands satisfaction and we get the heel-kicking fuzzpop splendour of ‘Fucked Up’. Everyone wigs out. We love The Loves.
After such sweet sticky thrills, how can The Projects compete? They’re like Stereolab, but not so good aren’t they? Well, no, egged on by intense audience enthusiasm, they play a blinder. Theirs is a more eighties bloopy, funky take on the krautrock groove, just check out singer Lisa’s ruched boots. The Projects are employees of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop hanging out in Sheffield in 1982. They power through songs like the brilliant single ‘Entertainment’, guitars going spiral, spiral, crunch, Lisa’s voice doing the glacial European cool thing, Morgane doing her poker-faced keyboard maiden number. It’s all eminently danceable, too, as the front of the stage becomes a maelstrom of gleeful bodies. There seems to be a high proportion of bald men with beards whirling around in there. It’s all thoroughly invigorating.
The glacial European cool thing
One more time!

Beaming, sweaty punters shuffle their way out and what at the beginning of the night seemed like it could be a bit of a limp past the finishing post has turned out to be an almighty triumph. Do you believe in Track & Field? Of course you damn well do.

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