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, November 09, 2009

Billy Mahonie, Trans Am
Islington Academy, London

There’s an odd crowd here tonight. It could be because most the press that Trans Am get is in the style magazines. Perhaps the Islington Academy just attracts a ridiculous number of people that just go there to be seen, rather than to see the bands. Or maybe Dave Stewart’s mates are just so old that Alzheimer type disease has set in, and they’ve popped in to see him, having forgotten that the aged duffer doesn’t own the place any more.

Whatever the reason for this bizarre mix of fashion victim and haggard former hippies, there’s a pair of white-haired sexagenarians eagerly pointing a range of cameras at Billy Mahonie for the duration of their set. The truly sad thing about this though is the fact that when they first launch into one of their many songs whose titles continue to elude me, there are very few other people paying any attention to a band who are quite possibly Britain’s best post-rock troupe.

Instead, while Mr and Mrs Fred Hale (the oldest man in the world, do try to keep up) work their through film after film, most of the crowd have a collective chat, a particularly loud chat that constantly threatens to drown out Billy Mahonie in a sea of babble. Seriously, some people just can’t recognise greatness even when it’s waving intricate and elegant interlocked riffs in their face. But as the volume builds, Mahonie start to win over the ignorant onlookers. By the time they go all Fugazi throwing an epileptic fit on their pugnacious closer ‘Düsseldorf’, they’re an angular and finely honed colossus that is impossible to ignore.

It could be because Mahonie were so good, or have something to do with me being so tired, but Trans Am don’t really cut it tonight. Each time I’ve seen them before, I’ve been transfixed by their barrage of droning synths, growling bass and staccato drumming, but right now, something just isn’t clicking.

The crowd has started to leave, taking the atmosphere with them. Trans Am bassist Nathan Means’ close physical resemblance to Vernon Kaye is getting to me more than usual (the orange mesh trousers aren't really helping), and the set is too repetitive, the songs too derivative of each other, to hold my interest for long. It’s getting late, I’ve got to get up for work in the morning, and I’m feeling dehydrated, and no matter what they do now, Trans Am aren’t going to escape the fact that they were outclassed and upstaged by Billy Mahonie.

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