Friday, May 11, 2007
Electrelane / The Early Years @ The Scala, 9 May 2007
First up, a public announcement. To anyone in Chicago, Portland, LA or Berkley who are going to see Arcade Fire this month. You have to get down to the gig early and see Electrelane! Honestly, you’ll thank me that you did. If Wednesday night’s Scala gig is anything to go by, you’ll be in for one hell of a warm-up.
Last time I saw them, also supporting Arcade Fire in March, they were a bit tentative. It was a good, short set, but I felt that there was something lacking. Two evenings ago they had anything that was missing before and a lot, lot more. OK, it was their gig and their crowd last night, but if this rich vein of form continues, even if they’re half as good in America as they were at the Scala, it’ll still be brilliant.
Anyone familiar with this blog will know of my love for the Brighton band’s new album No Shouts, No Calls. I mean, it’s still a great album, but imagine it to the power of 10 and that’s the live show. They certainly played a good few of the tracks off the new record last night and they sounded fantastic. They also played a good few from their previous LP Axes. Now, in my No Shouts... review, I was quite dismissive of Axes, and now I’m beginning to realise how wrong I was. Some of the slightly unfamiliar but excellent tunes at the gig, I happily discovered later were on that neglected album. After giving a couple of listens again today I can confirm that despite what I might have previously thought, it's a very good record.
But you can listen to the albums at home all you like. You may even love their music as it comes out of the stereo (and you should). But live, I’ve got to say it again, it really comes into its element. The songs breathe new life. It’s louder, noiser, and just much more impressive. With Ros Murray’s bass pounding grooves to rock bodies to the core. Emma Gaze beating out ultra-tight rhythms on the drums. Verity Susman going mad on the keyboards and synths. And most impressively of all, Mia Clarke smiling sweetly as she laid waste to the Scala with monstrous riffs, ear-slitting noise and highly-controlled guitar abuse. I’m sure that she made as much noise with one guitar as the Early Years did with three. But it’s not all just good quality noise. The gorgeous vocals and the sheer beauty of some of the songs were utterly mesmeric.
With the band hitting this kind of form, so clearly enjoying themselves onstage, and with a hugely appreciative, up-for-it crowd, packed closely together round the various levels of the Scala, it all made for a pretty memorable evening.
So much so that I’ve almost forgotten about The Early Years in support. Now these are another band I’ve shown a lot of love for on this blog in the past. And they were good. Their tendencies seem to be getting more prog every time I see them. Last night we got only four songs, but that lasted over half an hour. Still, I’m telling myself that if this dense, noisy krautrock shoegazey stuff is what passes for prog these days, maybe prog isn’t so scary as I thought. They were a band on form too, but the night totally belonged to Electrelane, who were rapturously received for an encore which they finished with their cover of I’m on Fire. Too bloody right they were.
Download: The Early Years – On Fire
Download: Electrelane – This Deed
Download: Electrelane – Bells
Download: Electrelane – Between the Wolf and the Dog
Buy No Shouts, No Calls and Axes and Power Out. All of ‘em, dammit.
Three Pink Monkeys and The Wirewool were also there. And speaking of other blogs, you can read Electrelane's tour blog to find out how the American tour's going. It seems they enjoyed the Scala show too.
I have some more slightly ropey pics on my Flickr (The Early Years ones are better), but TPM has much better shots.