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Baptiste 11th July 2001 Water Rats

Yikes! The Water Rats has had a make-over (see venue reviews). Haven't been here since 1998, mind. Tonight Baptiste are here to impress us into buying their brand new single 'Kissing With Your Eyes Open', a charming little number full of murmuring boy vocals, chiming guitars and cheek-puffing melodica.

Things are looking up as James Oldham NME bloke and Keith Cameron ex-NME bloke trundle in. Unfortunately, things look down again following the support band, Kites, as they shuffle back out onto the street, disappearing in a cab to wherever 'it' is at tonight. Never mind, it's their loss.

glamourpuss ladies

Baptiste come on in their 'stage gear' of brightly coloured feathered head-dresses and sequinned leotards. Oh no, I mean dark suits. Sombre figures mottled by the light from their trademark slideshow of sepia-tinted glamourpuss ladies. Kicking off with 'A Worthy Grudge Is A Beautiful Thing', the first three songs are gorgeously pensive, drowsy in a cocoon of fuzzing guitars. 'Icarus' is full of pounding drums and melancholic, 'I don't want my mistakes to come crashing back' lyrics, followed by the world-weary 'Tired Bodies'.

I finally realise what this languid, Velvety brooding reminds me of; Crash, an American band from the late eighties who absorbed lots of fab British stuff like (but of course) the Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine and included Kurt Ralske of Ultra Vivid Scene on guitar. (See their 1986 LP 'I Feel Fine ' for much claustrophobic, languorous loveliness). Strangely, Wayne Gooderham, Baptiste's estuary-accented vocalist kind of sounds like Crash singer Mark Dumais. For a while I get lost in remembering his post-Crash group Tangerine, whose 'Sunburst' video was the best thing on Creation's 1990 compilation. Many a happy hour was spent chez Kitten watching Mark and his groovy bob-hair smear themselves in bright orange paint…

Um, where was I? Oh yes, so we're just settling into a nice dust-motes drifting in sunrays buzz, when guitar strings break. To cover the gap as a replacement guitar is sought, Wayne murmurs a solo rendition of 'A Small Victory', b-side of the last single 'The Quiet Times'. Then, momentum somewhat ruffled, they play an old (so we're told) song 'Postcards' which, despite drums buzzing when they shouldn't be and some loud-mouthed girl talking when she shouldn't be, is lovely. They should resurrect it. 'Some Might Call It Drowning' is all luxurious shadows on a moonlit lawn, while 'Confessions Of A Clumsy Man' is a deliciously soporific afternoon.
Fuzz, Crash and glitter
Finally, of course, we get 'Kissing With Your Eyes Open' and I'm thrilled to notice they have a glittery drumkit. Fuzz, Crash and glitter, Kitten goes home happy.
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