Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Monday, April 18, 2005

NME Premier Tour
Cardiff University
January 2000

You know when some scholar with far too much time for introspective contemplation claimed that if you sat an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters for infinite length of time, that eventually one of them would replicate the complete works of Shakespeare? Well, if you got one sloth, broke both of its arms, gave it a guitar with only three strings, and played it the latest Travis album, it will have written Coldplay’s entire set after about four minutes, and that includes the time that’s needed to work out that it isn’t a particularly good idea to eat the fretboard.

Contemplating why anyone needs another asinine, atrophied take on Radiohead and REM would stretch the most creative imagination, so quite how Coldplay’s obviously stunted ingenuity has allowed them to decide that they need to be that band must have taken a transcendental leap akin to that which lead to the discovery of fire. So for now, we can only hope that Coldplay and fire find themselves closely associated more often in the near future.

In these post-modern, post-rock, post-apocalypse times (depending on which crack-pot religious cult you joined in a drunken stupor on New Year’s Eve), it’s comforting to find a band so determined to recreate their vision of the future now, and with all the subtlety of a mass-murdering doctor. When Campag Velocet follow tonight’s limp-wristed, inept openers with a performance of such force and commitment, proceedings are instantly injected with a much-needed touch of class and an even more necessary kick in the arse.

Looking like some bizarre new form of urban hermit, Pete Voss strides about the stage safe in the knowledge that, come armageddon, it’s only going to be him and the cockroaches left breathing, as Campag Velocet do a Burroughs style cut-up job with the Happy Mondays back catalogue, a tattered copy of ‘A Clockwork Orange’, and the Situationist International manifesto before ‘Bon Chic Bon Genre’ and ‘Drencrom Velocet Synthemesc’ batter our bodies with an intensity generally only felt by victims of biological warfare.

Remember that film ‘Big’, when Tom Hanks finds himself trapped in the body of a school-kid and gets into all manner of japes far to hilarious to go into here. Well, Jacques Lu Cont is your dad trapped in the body of a toddler overwhelmed with delight at having managed to wipe it’s arse unaided for the first time, at a Blue Peter karaoke party.

Les Rhythmes Digitales look like the techno Beastie Boys, jump about like B’Witched on hot coals, but after about four songs, become as annoying as a happy-hardcore Rod, Jane and Freddie, as the lip-syncing, funk bass, and incessant cheekiness begin to leave a nasty taste in the mouth, and long-repressed memories of Don Johnson, designer stubble, and shoulder pads the size of Dallas begin to resurface along with a timely reminder that the 80’s were in fact, completely crap, until the initial image of a cabaret Add N To (X) fades away, leaving Jacques and Jo’s crazy, madcap antics resembling a pair of stick insects having an epileptic fit.

You only need to look at Michael Head to know that Shack have lived hard lives; with so many years struggling in the shadows of their peers; spiralling through drug abuse, critical acclaim and commercial failure. You know that he’s sincere by the way that the sweat beads glisten on his forehead, you can tell that he’s kept his integrity because he plays an acoustic guitar, and you know he’s shit because he’s got his mouth open and words are coming out.

There are many reasons that a band can see out their career wallowing in self-piteous obscurity, and occasionally, just occasionally, it’s because they’re nothing but yet another fucking exponent of classic songwriting played by real musicians with real instruments, people with no fucking concept of the possibilities of guitar music, people so hung up on the past that they consider ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’ to be the best album of all time, people who run away scared at the slightest suggestion of innovative song-writing, people who only buy three fucking records a year (one for Christmas, one for their birthday, and one as a special little treat when they get three numbers on the lottery), people who would be quite content to watch Cast play down their local pub every fucking Thursday night until the next fucking millennium. It’s just unfortunate that this time round, they’re actually trying to fool us into believing that this insipid, retrogressive, whining pub-rock drivel should be conceived as fiery and passionate tales of an underdog with a story that needs to be heard, or that it is any more relevant to our lives than the glue-sniffing, piss-head busker propped up outside the local train station.

Shack? Shack of shit more like.