CSS @ Village Underground

Lovefoxx and the rest of the Brazilian five piece still have the same sense of fun after four albums as they did way back in 2006 when they released ‘Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above’, and when Death From Above 1979 were actually around.

[Pictures originally published at Clashmusic.com]

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Adam Ant @ The Roundhouse

Adam Ant live at the Roundhouse, London, May 2013. Photo: Rachel Lipsitz
Adam Ant live at the Roundhouse, London, May 2013. Photo: Rachel Lipsitz

Adam and the Ant’s huge hits in the early 1980s – at one point he had eight records in the charts simultaneously – are indelibly burnt into anyone who remembers them. Children remember the flamboyant costumes, over the top videos, catchy choruses. Those old enough remember the hard-edged post-punk sound finessed with a touch of the new wave, the overtones of deviancy and sexual experimentation, the arch lyrics and the extremely fine cheekbones of the handsome Mr Ant (born Stuart Goddard).

What Antmania can be resurrected 30 years later? He slipped from among the most creative new wave popstars into irrelevance, battled mental health problems later diagnosed as bi-polar disorder that saw him arrested and sectioned for his own health, and disappeared. After 17 years away Ant returns with the sprawling 17-track album ‘The BlueBlack Hussar Marries The Gunner’s Daughter’, a bizarre, unruly, and sometimes inspired beast.

Playing the Roundhouse for the first time since supporting X-Ray Spex in 1978, tonight Ant sports the full regalia expected of him; gold-braided hussar’s jacket, feathered bicorn and various dangly adornments. Older now, with thick black-rimmed specs and a more weighty appearance than in his whip-thin youth, he could almost be a history teacher at a fancy dress party.

But he still has the spirit for it; leaping on stage he launches into the bluesy ‘Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter‘, before stepping straight into ‘Dog Eat Dog‘ – and back to 1980. The band bring a more ‘eavy metal sound to the music, while still delivering the characteristic tribal-style drumming, with two kit drummers just as he used to. He doesn’t hit every note, but in moments such as yodelling the chorus to ‘Beat My Guest‘ he sounds as vigorous as ever.

Over two hours with scarcely a break to talk Ant powers through new numbers like the ‘Hardmentoughblokes‘, a bewildering attack on faux film hardmen, the electronic-tinged and clearly personal ‘Shrink‘ which seethes with a sub-Nine Inch Nails intensity, and the smokey BMRC-esque ‘Cool Zombie‘. And there are the classics: ‘Stand and Deliver‘ sets the mood early on in the set, the crowd’s roar clearly audible. ‘Whip In My Valise‘ is still delicious, the spacey, flanged ‘Zerox‘ is searing. “I’m asked if I’m going to play my classics,” he deadpans. “’Course not, you want dubstep remixes don’t you?”, before tearing into the call to arms of ‘Antmusic‘.

But tonight is all about the crowd. Three heavily-set balding punks pass around a bottle of poppers, each eye adorned by a mascara cross; not one is under 50 years old. Another sports the kind of flour-and-water spikes last seen on grainy BBC footage from the 70s. In every direction are serried ranks of middle age, trussed in Napoleonic shirts and tunics, ribbons and hats. They know the words, they know the dance moves, they leap about and sing as lustily as any Regency highwayman. To be among such fans, all so far beyond the all-important 18-35 market segment, dressed to the nines bellowing “RIDICULE IS NOTHING TO BE SCARED OF” is to be humbled, and cheered.

Psychemagik, The Juan Maclean, Medlar @ The Nest


Descending into The Nest there is only darkness, and disco. Red lasers and lights barely cut the gloom, bodies whisper to each other in the club’s seated alcoves, or writhe under the barely-clad ladies of 1970s sexploitation film posters on the walls.

All it needs is Blondie doing rails off the bar and trannies offering handjobs in the loo and it could be a time-warp to Studio 54.

Right on cue, ‘Ring My Bell‘ puts smiles on faces, because disco is the order of the day; dubby disco and deep house from three acts who have that sound nailed.

Psychemagik’s producer/DJ pair of Danny McLewin and Tom Coveney are perhaps most known for their epic remix of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere‘, which has been the hands-in-the-air record for right-thinking DJs for years. But aside from their remix and re-edit work, their psychedelic disco sound suffuses their original tracks and the records they play.

The Juan MacLean, noise rocker turned house DJ, scored a couple of hits with ‘Give Me Every Little Thing’ and ‘Happy House’ in the ’00s and is a well-known stalwart on James Murphy’s DFA Records.

The new kid on the block is Medlar of Wolf Music Records, a label for whom 2012 was a vintage year filled with disco-dipped deep house releases with just the right amount of jack to keep the floor rolling.

Medlar builds up the tension with progressively tougher cuts from the Wolf stable, from the slice of summer that is ‘The Sun‘ to the garage snares and hi-hats of ‘Can’t Stop‘, bolted onto a great wedge of organ that shuffles and grooves.

Medlar’s sound blends the early ’90s organ and wobbly basslines that Glenn Underground would approve of, with the crisp swing and swagger of a very up-to-date, UK rhythm where vocal snatches are ruthlessly cut up and played back as stabs.

Playing back to back, Psychemagik bring with them a few of the re-edits they’re known for, a rich vein of ’70s flavour featuring a touch of James Brown, although Fleetwood Mac doesn’t get an outing tonight.

Suddenly the place fills up – boys in shirts and jackets, girls with dreads and noserings, Friday-nighters, all-dayers – everyone’s suddenly down the front.

Fortunately the world’s most uptight bouncer is here to ensure that nobody leans on the rail, puts their coat or bag down, or attempts to dance on what could generously be called the “stage”. That doesn’t stop anyone from trying, however, which leads to a stand-off during which no one can hear what the other is saying anyway.

For the last half hour, Tom Coveney roughens up the beats, building up from deep, dubby disco with layers of chattering snares and highhats. They’re a fine double-act.

Lean, rangy, cropped-haired, you could imagine that The Juan MacLean would be pretty convincing wielding a guitar. But once installed behind the decks he switches up to heavy New York-inflected house, sweeping between tracks loaded with piano and sax, woven with acid lines and fidgety beats.

Who can guess what demands Hackney’s licensing department make or what fear they put into venues that laying your bag at your feet is considered unacceptable, but as long as there’s house music like tonight to move to it’ll take more than that to ruffle the feathers at this Nest.


[Words and pictures originally published at Clashmusic.com]