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The Fog Band / The Organ – Artrocker at The Buffalo Bar, 5th April 2005

Hurrah! It’s The Fog Band in all their dapper tappy-toed glory. In deference to the fact that they’re playing the mighty Artrocker night, they come over all contrary and choose to stick to their more subdued numbers. This is kind of a shame, ‘cos The Fog Band are fab, but tonight they’re not as fab as they can be, which is to say they’re still fabber than Fabrizio Moretti eating a Fab ice-lolly and reading an issue of ‘Fab 208’ whilst wrapped in fablon.

Singer Bobby Grindrod looks as impeccable as ever, in his snappy suit he really is the most perfectly put together young man you’re ever likely to meet, especially in an environment that boasts more Converse per square foot of floor than a Ramones fancy dress party. Kicking off with the scratchy ‘Bachelor Section’ The Fog Band perambulate through a clutch of songs that twist and jog, but never quite catch. Meanwhile, the razor-sharp creases, the subtle tie, the purple cufflinks are all quite mesmerising. We get marvy new single, ‘The Law of the Sea’, we get folk-tinged bits and bluesy echoes. There’s a throwaway version of their roaring take on ‘These Boots Were Made For Walking’ and a snippy encore of ‘There’s A Ghost In My House’. More please.

Lovely bit of Tom Foolery
Although you’d never guess it if you lived solely on a diet of mainstream music press, there’s a heaping helping of tip top rockin’ females out there at the moment. All the best current bands have strong lady elements – The Schla La Las, The Pipettes, The A-Lines, The Long Blondes, The Violets. And now here are The Organ who are everything those dumb boys in bands cranking out eighties facsimiles think they are but are falling hopelessly short of. Where the boys bluster bombastically, The Organ are unafraid to introduce an element of fragility to their mournful ponder-rock sound.

Pre-gig I have no idea what The Organ are like apart from the fact that Alistair Fitchett has been raving about them on Tangents which is always a good sign. I have no idea what to expect. So they slide onstage, play a mere few notes and I’m immediately in love with these serious looking girls and the noise they’re making as they unfussily push out this lush, gorgeous sound. It’s bursting with references but in a head-swimmingly delicious way. The most obvious and most appealing to me is the warmly desolate shiver of The Cure circa ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ or ‘Just One Kiss’. Nights spent wrapped around ‘Concert and Curiosity’ and ‘The Walk’ E.P. flood my memory, this is weird. Songs and sounds that I haven’t thought about in years reawaken from where they’ve lain dormant in distant cells of my body and infuse my system with essence of teenage brooding.
So where's the organ then? The band’s eponymous organ, played by Jenny, has a gravely quavering tone and adds a stately grandeur to the songs. Blank-eyed, dead-pan guitarist Deborah, plucks out icily pristine notes that shiver against the warmth of the organ sound, twinkling points of noise that hang like brittle stars in a frosty sky. The bass sound is colossal, a nod to Hooky, powering the whole thing up and adding the hip-twisting funkiness that pulls it all together. At first the bass keeps cutting out, a song is brought to an abrupt halt as repairs are run. Everything fixed, the bass almost becomes too much, an overbearing presence threatening the delicate balance of the songs.
Ha, the songs! We get a selection taken from 2002’s mini LP ‘Sinking Hearts’ and from newie ‘Grab That Gun’. ‘No One Has Ever Looked So Dead’ sparkles and quivers like ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle,’ its ”In the backseat of your car you showed me every star” line reminiscent of ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’. ‘Brother’ with its ‘we have got to take cover’ line is urgent and ravishing.

So we’ve got this lush, shivering sound that nods to all your eighties teenage favourites; The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, but it’s singer Katie Sketch who seals the deal. Her voice has a lilting seriousness, an echoey one-tone vocal beamed in from a distant star, soaring and aching. Moving about the tiny stage, she’s the epitome of self-containment, wrapped up in the music and the moment, her eyes remain shut, but somehow it’s a captivating performance. Tonight, effortless cool is a brown tee-shirt, slipping down jeans, short, tousled hair that’s never seen a pair of straighteners (the devil’s own ‘beauty’ implement), and make-up free luminosity. Isn’t it great when you lose your heart when you least expect it?
Straightener-free beauty
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