Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Teaching an old dog new tricks

FOALS / ATTACK + DEFEND / TIRED IRIE, 6TH MARCH 2007, CARDIFF CLWB IFOR BACH

They say you learn something new every day.

Well, the first thing I learn tonight is that Tired Irie are - for a support band at first largely ignored by the swelling and chattersome Tuesday night crowd (par-for-the-course treatment for out-of-towners) - really very good indeed. Regulation stripey jumpers and tight jeans perhaps, but when the songs are as good as 'For Those Who Swung Hips' - punk-funk stretched out and taken on a tour of the more leftfield end of the Dischord spectrum - then their cliched sartorial stylings hardly matter. A breakthrough must surely be near at hand - and, what with the likes of DARTZ! also on the up, may I be the first to suggest that the Q And Not U revival starts here?

The next thing I learn is, sadly, that Attack + Defend are perhaps not quite as good as they seemed when I first saw them, at the marathon Twisted By Design compilation launch gig. A mish-mash of styles is often indicative of maverick minds at work, and you certainly couldn't accuse of Attack + Defend of being catholic in their tastes. There's a joyous carelessness in the way they fling together electro, funk and a whole lot more (I can still hear The Beatles and The Coral at their most foot-stomping in there, for a start) - no wonder, then, that The Go! Team took them on tour. But, as much as I admire their pursuit of originality, ultimately the lack of coherence begins to frustrate - and it doesn't help that I'm disappointed by the omission of 'Lucky Dawg', This Town Ain't Big Enough For The 22 Of Us' opening track.

The last thing I learn is what all the fuss is about. Having played Clwb in support of The Noisettes just a fortnight ago, Foals are back to preach to - and, in the case of some of the young ladies bopping away enthusiastically down the front, moisten the undergarments of - the converted. It's after a couple of songs and frontman Yannis declaring "We got up at five thirty and I'm so tired I can't feel my face" (by which time I'm already myself a convert) that I suddenly realise that Foals are what is known to the NME-devouring massive as "new rave". Well, congratulations grandad - you're now officially down with The Kids...

In truth, of course, the music Foals make hasn't got a great deal to do with rave. It's just indie music you can dance to - all sprightly drums, agitated funk guitar and taut, slinky basslines. Recent single 'Two Steps Twice' is a definite highlight, as is the instrumental song they claim is brand new and unfinished and 'Mathletics' which closes the set. It's about squares, apparently - it's not just DARTZ! who are making geometry cool, not least because Foals list amongst their friends fellow Brighton-based outfit Maths Class. (Has there been an NME feature on maths being the new rock 'n' roll? If not, it can only be a matter of time...)

With Yannis insisting that we are like "peacock feathers", it's nice to be able to be pleasant back. No doubt it's a well-worn sentiment on SWSL, but I'll repeat it anyway: if The Kids can be into music this clever and complex (though it's also seriously grin-inducing), then the future is in good hands.

Links:

Turns out I'm not the only person to review the gig. There are also reports on Drowned In Sound and Miwsig, a Welsh online cultural magazine / blog which I hadn't come across before but which I'll certainly be revisiting.

4 comments:

Russ L said...

I rate Tired Irie, too.

Even if I did spend about three months thinking they were called 'Tired Irene' after I saw them.

Simon said...

I can't remember if I've done Tired Irie on Weekender - they were certainly in the list because their demos were quite impressive. I'm getting excited about Foals at the moment, although how they'll go down supporting Young Knives in the near future is another matter entirely.

Ben said...

From your neck of the woods, too, aren't they Simon? You seen them live before? Not that much of a spectacle, really, but worth seeing all the same for the overall strength of the songs.

Simon said...

Loughborough, which is close enough. I'm terrible for actually getting to see local bands, though, largely because there's no proper gigging support network for them bar monthly one-off clubs (although my next TAoN review will probably be for a locals evening)