Cakes! There’s fucking cakes! They’re free too. And I think vegetarian which I don’t entirely understand as I’ve never (as yet) had bacon on a cupcake. Still, cakes!
I walk in as soundchecks finish and someone engages the disco lights. Or light. The really weird, uncomfortable disco light. The flashy, alternating, red-y, green-y, red-y illumination seems a bit out of place but hey, here comes Jemma Roper. With some bandmates. But they’re still called Jemma Roper.
They take to the stage wearing, in turn, an awesome black shirt Johnny Cash would be proud of, a cardigan, white shirt with braces and an outfit topped of with a single glove. I’m thinking New Romantic Shoegaze Country Folk. Weirdly, I’m wrong. One song is about “dying in space”, a concept that Frank Black would be proud of and the song wouldn’t be entirely out of place on his first solo album. The next song is about “dying in a forest”. It’s fuck all like Frank Black. The band’s entire sound is underpinned by what I’m going to call ‘post-punk basslines’ that are only made better by the glove thing. Roper’s voice has always been a bit woman-from-Chasing-Amy and this works perfectly when singing about dying in various places and/or The Great Depression. Which is a really, really good tune. The guitars chop and shimmer in turn and if I was Jo Whiley I say something insipid followed by comparisons to Gang Of Four and Metric.
Next up are The Lovely Wars. The 3 women and 2 men are all in red and black. Sort of like a White Stripes with better legs. The ones that I can see anyway. The women form a front three that Brendan Rogers would be proud of, a clear focal point flanked by creative support on both wings. This band has definitely put a bit of thought into their look but this isn’t to say they don’t have songs, the first one involves 60s girl group 3-way vocal harmonies while the second song has great swearing. They also cover a Eurovision tune (Sébastien Tellier’s ‘Divine’); make of that what you will! At times, the singer seems like she’d be happier being in Bugsy Malone the musical than in a band but that’s no bad thing. It’s all hugely entertaining and I was a big fan of the expressive eyebrows. Jo Whiley comparison: The Supremes and Amanda Palmer.
Quiet Marauder spent their time manning the door drawing on each other’s faces. It’s gone a bit Clockwork Orange. The red and black theme has continued with main singer/songwriter Simon Read covering his legs in a fetching pair of scarlet trousers. They inform the crowd that they’ll be singing songs about murdering people, Alan Shearer, moustaches and flamingos. The audience take a terrified step backwards. The threesome embark on smashing metal stuff, making all manner of onomatopoeic noises and handing out Burt Reynolds masks with instructions to chew through his eyes. It becomes clear that the audience like songs about Reynolds and eggs better than ones about murder and Shearer but I think we all bond over lyrics like “welcome to the future, it’s quite futuristic”. There’s then a song called ‘The Internal Monologue Debate’ which is apparently inspired by Read’s housemate’s experiences with women. This is clearly madness. His housemate is lovely and in no way crap at dating. I should know. They end with songs about a business deal called ‘The Business Deal’ and a song about animals spying on them called ‘The Animals Are Spying On Me’. Both are marvellous. If Whiley had a soul she’d compare them to The Lovely Eggs and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. And rightly so.