you were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad....
The Young Knives @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 29th October 2007
For the first time in a long time, I get to a venue in time to see both support bands. True, I only catch the last couple of songs by the Housewives, but it's more than enough. They're a funny looking bunch, for sure, but their guitarist also plays the worst guitar solo I have ever heard in my life - it's so rubbish (probably deliberately so) that I reckon that I would have half a chance of nailing it, and I don't play the guitar. The bassist also sports a haircut that looks a little like an unraveled brushover, which is a touch unfortunate. Ungdomskulen are a very different proposition though. Hailing from Bergen in Norway, they come across as a kind of scruffy Hives mixed with a touch of prog, a hint of Pavement and perhaps a dash of Sonic Youth. They also have an excellent drummer and a very crowd friendly singer / guitarist who keeps the crowd well entertained between songs:
"Boo for me!"
"Ah, come on! We're not that bad!"
"This song was a big hit in Norway and we eventually had to stop playing it. Like Nirvana and 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. Not that I'm comparing us to Nirvana..."
"This song is our best and most well known song. It's seven minutes long. [someone at the side of the stage holds up 3 fingers] We've only got three minutes..... well, this is the shortened version..."
And so on. In fact, they're so good that I am moved to do something I have never done before, and I buy their CD from the merchandise desk just behind me.
They were excellent.
The Young Knives take to the stage about 10 minutes later and are immediately moaning in a good natured way about the quality of the support (“You pick the support act, and they turn out to be the best band in the world.”)
They really are an unlikely looking bunch: moon faced, bespectacled and mostly wearing shirts, ties and tweed. They're famously from nearby Ashby-de-la-Zouch, about as un-rock and roll a town as you could possibly imagine. Tonight they certainly do rock though, and they are a very well-drilled live act. They apologetically play a lot of new material, but it is well received by the small-ish crowd and sounds pretty good. It's the older material that really brings the house down: 'Here Comes The Rumour Mill', 'Weekends and Bleak Days (Hot Summer)', 'Loughborough Suicide', 'She's Attracted To' and the absolutely barking 'The Decision'.
They are produced by Andy Gill of Gang of Four, and it's not hard to hear the influence: lots of choppy, post-punk guitars and barked lyrics. What marks this lot out as a bit different for me though is that just when you are thinking that a song is sounding fairly conventional, they suddenly dive off in an unexpected melodic direction, with swapped vocals and harmonies between singer/guitarist Henry Dartnell and bassist Thomas "The House of Lords" Dartnell (at one point moonfaced Henry turned to the crowd and informed us that he was the Arnold Schwarzenegger to his brother's Danny de Vito, having got all the looks in the family). They also seem to have a well-developed sense of the absurd, perhaps best seen in the video for The Decision, but also apparent in their artwork and dress-sense, their quirky lyrics and their self-deprecating onstage banter. In spite of the fact that they play pretty full-on rock, they also seem to have a slightly bucolic air of innocence about them. I'm mildly surprised to see some kids pushing their way to the front during "The Decision". They're all proudly sporting the kind of hair that Paul Weller would have if he neglected to wash for about a month, and look as though they got lost on the way to a Kasabian gig, but they seem to absolutely love this bunch of tweed-wearing misfits. Good for them. In a world where Oasis are still mind-numbingly popular and where The Twang can sell any records at all, it's nice to see a band with a bit of intelligence about them.
I think they'r brilliant, and although they played a lot of new songs tonight, I thought it was a great set. New single "Terra Firma" was out this week, and they urged us all to go and buy it, if for no other reason than they want to keep Jack Penate off the top of the chart because they don't like him.
"He's a c*nt!" shouted someone from the crowd.
"He certainly is a.... that word I can't say because my mum is in the audience."