Yet another band that I have been waiting years to see, first we had to endure two local bands that were really not good. The first were very-much Blondie influenced (to the point of playing a cover of Call Me), while the second were scratchy punk-pop where the silence between each song was probably longer than the songs themselves.
So it was with some relief from us when theSTART took the stage. Nowadays not a band with a particularly high profile, which is odd: the two main members come from the bands Human Waste Project (Aimee Echo, of course), and Snot (Jamie Miller), who were both hugely popular (and regularly in the pages of the metal press) in the late-90s.
Perhaps part of the reason for their lower profile is down to their musical style. Rather than the heavier, abrasive metallic sound of both of the antecedents, theSTART started out as a heavily new-wave influenced pop-punk band, who over time have gradually shed the more “colourful” side to their sound for a perhaps more “goth”-orientated sound – certainly recent album Ciao, Baby is an awful lot darker in tone.
Not that you’d know it as they ripped into opener Runaway, where it felt like light was suddenly flooding into the gloomy basement that the Casbah calls a “live venue”. Typically – and irritatingly – the sound setup in the Casbah was pretty poor, too: an unbalanced sound that was far too bass-heavy and often obliterating the vocals and keyboards.
And despite Aimee clearly being rather ill, they gamely continued, seemingly battling along as the band have across the nearly ten years of their history (other than Aimee and Jamie, there has been something of a “revolving door” policy with other band members, they have been on labels that failed, they have self-released stuff), with nothing much ever really going right.
Other highlights were a surging The 1234, the much-more-mellow Ciao, Baby, and then the final three songs made it worth the entrance alone. First was a real blast from the past, in an airing of an old HWP track (One Night In Spain…), which oddly enough fitted in the set very well, and also highlighted just how great a song this always was, followed by probably two of the strongest songs the current band have produced. Gorgeous is new-wave power pop at it’s best, with lyrics full of slink and lust, while the closing Shakedown! remains the band’s ultimate calling card and mission statement, although with Aimee’s ever-decreasing energy levels it was perhaps not as bouncy as it should have been.
It felt really quite mean asking the ailing singer to return to the stage for an encore, but somehow she managed to fight through one more song, although I’d be stuffed if I knew what it was. So despite the setbacks – and a criminal lack of advertising for the gig (really, folks, promotion of gigs is a must, surely?) – it was a good gig. Not the best of the year, but damned good fun and a nice throwback, almost to a time of very different bands.