Into the Pit: 119: The DDR of R’n’B club – The Half Moon – 16-February 2012

If nothing else, I couldn’t suggest that this night didn’t offer some variety in terms of the bands onstage. Going from garage rock, to political polemics, to deeply emotional, electro-rock. Kind of.

The Nuns: The DDR of R'n'B Club: London SW15: 16-February 2012The garage rock side of things can from the glorious fun of The Nuns. No, not another resurrection of the 70s band, but a tribute to the sixties “legends” The Monks, a band that I must confess I’d never actually heard anything of (although I’d heard *of* them). And the six-piece, all-female band did an awesome job, a blast of a set that was catchy rock’n’roll, all killer, no filler. And as a tribute, it has done its job here – I’m now hunting out some of the original material.

Thee Faction: The DDR of R'n'B Club: London SW15: 16-February 2012Following the all-out-rock of The Nuns was a very different proposition – the socialist R’N’B of Thee Faction. No, really. This was equal parts rock-and-soul music, and political activism. Needless to say with the amount of political feeling on show, if you aren’t of the left/socialist persuasion in the first place, I think it is fair to admit that it won’t be for you. Although in the current political and economic climate, I’m surprised there aren’t more bands like this trying to fight back. And this latter point made Conservative Friend (suggesting that you should jettison your right-leaning “friends”) all the more spiky. And it was a highlight in a set that was certainly worth catching.

I must admit that perhaps my political views are slightly different to the band, more in that I probably I inhabit a slightly different area of left-wing politics, so certain tirades and songs grated a little bit in their subject matter. But that was taking nothing away from the music, which like the band before them was a bit of an impassioned throwback to a different time. I’m not convinced that a socialist revolution is on it’s way, myself, but I certainly share that desire for something of a change in Government – and perhaps a wider change in attitudes, not least in the media – in our country right now.

Blindness: The DDR of R'n'B Club: London SW15: 16-February 2012However it wasn’t either of the first two bands that I was actually there for, as good as they were – it was to see (again) Blindness. I’ve probably said enough for now about this band – in short, an amalgam of a number of mainly nineties influences, which has resulted in an electro-tinged rock sound with an emotional core – but this gig was notable for a few things. Firstly, the improved sound was something of a revelation.

Blindness setlist

Not Something
Sunday Morning
No One Counts
Last One Dies

The small venue circuit in London can be something of a nightmare in trying to gauge how good a band sound. The inverse actually happened here, in that with a much better PA than at recent shows, it added a visceral force to some tracks that made them sound even better – and, of course, showed that even with a poor PA this band are a formidable live force.

And secondly, lead singer Beth appears finally to be settling a little, after the extreme shyness shown onstage at previous gigs. Here she was frequently at the front of the stage, with less of the singing to the back wall, and beginning to show some confidence that only enhances things further. And a result, some of the songs now simply bristle with confidence and defiance. Particularly the twin statements of intent in Not Something and Last One Dies, the former of which kicked in with an almighty punch, while the latter is a little more slow in build, exploding into life for the chorus.

The biggest beneficiaries of the better sound, though, were the songs already released. Broken‘s breakdown in the middle of the song was a jagged wall of noise that was just jaw-dropping, while the closing Confessions finally also gained the extra power that made the live version the equal of the still-staggering single version (that is now a remarkable eighteen months or so old), and closed out with Beth lying prone on the floor, letting the band play out the song without her.

So anyway – the best show I’ve seen them put on yet, and slowly but surely, they are gaining more fans, and their sound is still evolving. Mining a part of nineties music that somehow hasn’t really been covered by others is proving something of a boon, too – Blindness stand out as a very different band to the various indie drudgery on the scene at present.

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