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.
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.