review archive

The People's Revolutionary Choir / Televise / Sing Sing - Sonic Cathedral at The Legion,
1st December 2005

Shoe-gazing - it's not big, it's not clever, it's a completely stupid genre term, and yet it's a mighty convenient way of summing up a cornucopia of buzzy, droney, pedal-stamping, string wangling sounds. Sounds that some of us can't help but have a mushy old soft spot for. There are even clubs where you can go and listen to this stuff with like-minded souls. Clubs like the splendid Sonic Cathedral* who seem to have appropriated a large chunk of my record collection and are now playing it to the stripey topped masses here at The Legion. For example, once we have introduced ourselves to and shaken hands with Kevin, the world's friendliest/most disturbing bouncer, our ears are assaulted by That Petrol Emotion's 'It's A Good Thing'. It is indeed a very Good Thing, although probably not strictly shoey. Never mind though 'cos then The House Of Love's 'Destroy The Heart' comes on. Now that's shoey.

*[In Smash Hits, long before Ride even knew what an AC30 was, someone once wrote an overly-flowery review of U2 or somesuch. For ever after there was much piss-taking about bands 'building sonic cathedrals of icey majesty'. It made me laugh.]

There seems to be a kind of Warholian theme to proceedings, with a back projection across the stage showing what look like Andy's old home cine films, whilst the dance floor is a forest of ribbons that hang down from the vast cluster of silver helium-filled balloons that hugs the ceiling.
Oh, there are some bands playing, too. S'why we came, really.

First up are Sing Sing featuring EmmaonceofLush.
I used to like Lush when they were all wooshy and 4ADish. Then they went a bit Britpop and I got bored, so I haven't really paid much attention to Sing Sing over the last seven years. Turns out this was probably a mistake, 'cos judging by tonight's acoustic(ish) performance they've got fistfuls of swoopily melodic songs. Emma's perched on a chair with her guitar and her stripy legs (very 1989), whilst up front, quite literally as she's rather pregnant, is Lisa, defying the Sonic Cathedral horizontal stripes rule by wearing gasp! zig-zags. They're accompanied by another guitar bloke and a lady playing a very odd, in fact downright ugly, cello - one of those new-fangled modern kinds with weird holes in and that.

Conravening the 1987 indie stripes law
Their first song is a pleasant two-voice harmony affair with a bit of strumming on the old guitar. But then they play this ace, breezy, running down a sunny hillside song with lovely crystal voices and the whole set seems to take off from there. Maybe it's because they're being acoustic(ish), but there's this dreamy green, pastoral feel to the songs, punctuated by some beefy cello-playing, and always Lisa and Emma's voices tumbling round one another. It's a little bit folky, in a spaced Eighteenth Day of May way (and look, there's Richard EDOM wandering in - mmm he smells nice). I'm thoroughly enjoying it all, despite the over-enthusiastic girl at the front relentlessly taking photographs of the band. Mercifully, Emma asks for the last songs to be free of flash-photography, as it's surprisingly annoying being blinded by white light every three seconds.
Wicky wicky waaahhhhh Next up are another band parading old timers in new guises.Televise apparently include former Slowdiver Simon Scott. This explians why second track in, they play a very familiar song which I smugly identify as ' Smile' by Inner Sleeve. I always really liked Inner Sleeve, you know. Anyway, Televise aren't straying too far from either of those band's templates. The effects pedals go wicky wicky wahhh wooble in that ace olde spacey way, piling on the reverb. Meanwhile, behind the band, the back projection shows an Exploding Plastic Inevitable happening with whiplashing and strobing and polka-dot shirt wearing. It looks so cool. This is not good for Televise who just look like sum blokes. There's nothing to see, so I sit down to listen. They do a summery, jazzy, light of touch spacey song. And a rushy, abrasive spacey song. Bish bash it goes. Hurrah. Note to boys, girls love this shit 'cos it sounds moody, but pretty, see?
Now, I've been meaning to see The Peoples' Revolutionary Choir for some time now. It's a bleedin' ace name isn't it? And I have been lead to believe that they kick up an unholy fuzz-filled racket, what with their demos being produced by Jim Reid and all. I expect them to be exciting and noisy and you know, kind of dangerous (within the confines of the live-music arena). And yes, the PRC look pretty cool, they put on a good show. Dammit they can play, they have songs! The only thing is their songs have already been written by Spiritualized. Seriously, all the same notes in all the same order. Now I love the 'lized and I understand how if you're a krazy young thing with your own band you might think it was right cool to sound a bit like them, but have some self-respect why doncha? There's a difference between being influenced by a band's sound and doing a dead-pan Stars In Their Eyes carbon copy of it.
The PRC do that woozy 'Pure Phase' keyboardy thing, they do the 'smackhead spiritual' bluesy lullaby thing, they do the chugga chugga Stooges thing. WTF??! Their first song goes on for quite some time and utilises the 'Walking With Jesus' keyboard line. The second one nabs those crunchy 'Revolution' chord changes. This is the Spacemen 3 you can vomit up between methadone doses. And so it goes, the band maintaining their electric mainline to all things Piercey. Singer Lal even has the correct dishevelled Jase hair, but rather than slumping to one side of the stage, keeps up a hyper I wanna-be-adored stage presence, shaking a tambourine all over the shop and flinging himself about in the same barefoot beat messiah way as Richard Ashcroft did in the days when he was known as 'Mad Richard'. If Kate Radley was here she'd be mightily confused.
Jason Ashcroft / Richard Pierce
At one point Lal rushes off stage to scrabble in the pockets of his coat. What mind-altering substance will he bring forth? An inhaler, actually. That being all intense lark can right take it out of you, you know.
Meanwhile, two moody blokes thottle their guitars as moody blokes will, whilst over on the keyboards there's a girl (of course, heaven forbid a girl would get the guitar) with the stick body of a skinny boy, a perfect black bob and big red lipstick. She looks ace.
Hurrah for the cool girl

After a while one of the guitar blokes (Lal's brother Jim looking like he means business enshrouded in a pea coat) takes over on vocals and the PRC play a JAMC sort of song. It's kind of 'Sugar Sugar' pretty meets 'Laughing Up My Sleeve' nasty-cute, chimey and Velvety. I like this one best. Things crash to a close as things inevitably do and as I fight my way past the silver balloons dropping from the ceiling, the DJ sticks on Spacemen 3. Talk about rubbing it in! The scene that celebrated itself is now regurgitating itself.

Oh whoops! Looks like I "missed the point". From The People's Revolutionary Choir web site:
"Proud to wear their influences openly, their music owes a certain amount to their forebearers [sic] - the white-hot noise and repetitiveness of Suicide, the dreamy drones and texture of Spacemen 3 and the sheer forcefulness of The Stooges in their prime are three prominent reference points.The PRC have enough respect for the aforementioned that claims of totally originality would be inappropriate [a ha ha ha!!]. That said, to the outside listener, the band's music is so life-affirming that anyone claiming them to be unoriginal or retrogressive would be missing the point." -
[top of page]