A Valentine’s Massacre @ Hoxton Underbelly 12.02.11

For those music-lovers in search of a slightly edgier Valentine’s soundtrack than usual, the good folks at Peculiar Management showcased a recession-tastic three bands for six quid. How’s that for the Big Society, Mr Cameron?

Feb 12th, 2011 at Hoxton Underbelly / By Ben Wood
Chancery Blame & The Gadjo Club The American Mid-West has inspired many a rock’n’roller to kick against the pricks – and Montanan gutter-crawler Rasp Thorne, with his band the Briars, is no exception. Delicately beglittered and resplendent in a white John Travolta disco suit and no shirt, he served up an intriguing collision of glam provocation and Weimar cabaret.

Thorne’s sin-splattered tales of the demimonde were delivered with lip-smacking relish: whores, murder, revenge, you know the score. The band – featuring a foxy female drummer and what appears to be The Actor Kevin Eldon – kept the drama going as their charismatic frontman groped himself and pinballed around the stage… occasionally launching himself head-first at the dancefloor (£8 per dry-clean, we’re told).

The vibe is a rockier take on Tom Waits’ freakshow carnival and Nick Cave’s tales of sin, sex and death. It’s probably nothing you haven’t heard before, but done darn well by a bloody good band having a whale of a time. And while they may be on first, they steal the show nevertheless.

That isn’t to say the two following acts aren’t pretty handy too. Nick Marsh knows his way round a stage (he was frontman of 80s alterno types Flesh For Lulu), and his latest incarnation is as the mellower, more reflective Nick Marsh and The Waltzing Bones. An affable presence decked out in 50s finery (impressive quiff’n’all), he plays much of his new album A Universe Between Us.

Very nice it is too – a cinematic blend of twangy desert blues and affecting crooning; with the occasional detour into a more uptempo rockabilly feel. “I’m a love volcano” he informs us – and this fingerclicking dude is having a darn good time up there, which transmits itself to the audience. Mr Marsh is a showbiz trooper, one of the most admirable of all the tribes. Long may the lights twinkle on him.

The place is pretty packed by this stage, and more stream down the stairs as nu-gypsy sensations Chancery Blame and the Gadjo Club take to the stage. A smooth, good-looking young dude fronts a super-competent band wielding a double bass and clarinet with serious intent. Soon, alcoholically impaired people are leaping around to some extremely groovy twirl-around-til-you-fall-over music. Sorry I can’t be any more precise – I was leaping around too much to take many notes - but it’s good time gypsy music and we had a good time. Job done.

All in all, a bargain bill and a great night out.