Thursday, March 20, 2008

Automatons Waltzing From Conventions,

It had been a long time since I’d been to a gig and I was honestly a bit apprehensive about attending what would turn out to be a fine concert featuring The Young Knives. I was concerned that I had been listening to too much dufferish music of late and that I would find the noise too abrasive for my fine ears. Of course, I know that The Young Knives are the leading artists in the twits and guitars genre, I thought Pete & The Pirates could challenge them but I was wrong (beyond Come on Feet, they don’t have much in their locker).

I made the best preparations I could. I did not listen to duffer music all day – I really missed Bill Callahan and Foxface, despite the merits of Saint Jude’s Infirmary (who can do anything) and garage band, The Len Price 3. I tried to work out who the support band(s) would be and decide whether to try catch them. I printed out maps. I borrowed a packet of Fruit Gums.

Those preparations had limited success. Firstly, efficient transportation had us in Fat Sams, Dundee before the first support band, who I had hoped to miss because I thought they’d be too fast and loud. Secondly, I did not realise there was to be a second support band, who, in hindsight, I would have hoped to miss.

The Get Downs won some sort of competition to entertain us. They epitomise the reason I am scared of three-piece bands and was nervous about attending a Young Knives gig. People can do lots of damage with guitars. Of course, the way not to cause harm is to learn chords and play them, otherwise, save money by carrying out mindless thrashing on a cheese grater. You could not play their songs with chords. They were intolerable; they did not possess rhythm or melody. It was noise. I recognised any words except from those on their “cover version” of Land of 1000 Dances and those were the only “words” on their version, the quotation marks give away what those syllables were.

Worse was to come in the form of Ungdom Skulen, another 3-piece who don’t play any chords, and do the cheese grating thing slower, such that the noise goes on for longer and is more boring. Furthermore, they are Norwegian, and I can forgive them for singing in Norwegian but even so, they should still be able to convey tone and emotion.

For inflicting these two upon us, I was quite annoyed at the Young Knives before they arrived, but with a few seconds worth of She’s Attracted To being better than almost an hour worth of shoddy support bands, I relented. The night included songs from the new album and a peppering of classics. The new album, Superabundance is quite good but I think the new songs sound better live. Henry is almost as clear a vocalist as other top enunciators, Colin MacIntyre and Fionn Regan. Whilst House of Lords is not so clear, his vocal performance has more energy than is evident on the record. Singles from the new album, Terra Firma and Up All Night, sounded great and had the crowd moving. Which football team will adopt “Fake rabbit, real snake, terra firma, terra firma” as their terracing chant? Would the East Fife FC fans be so bold? Having suggested this, Scots don’t really have the accent to pull it off; we’d have problems with the “R”s. The next single is a House of Lords special called Turn Tail, the talent the Young Knives have is to give each song a strong bass line then have a few killer lines amongst the song that can be repeated with gusto and remembered. They urged to “turn tail and run” from the metaphorical sinking ship.

Similarly, Counters is about more hopelessness incurred in the modern world, in this case, resulting in suicide and wistful drifting towards death, it’s good on record and live. I Can Hardly See Them is their “real heavy tune from the new record”, the children are quite patently lost in the towering undergrowth (not a paradox) of noise. Dyed in the Wool was another new song they did. Rue the Days starts off with silly La La Las, they’ll be useful for festivals later, more regrets are mentioned before they came crunching down with the title line “we rue the days”, it sounds better live; on record, it sounds a bit Gomez-ish and it’s a well known fact that Gomez deserve a good pummelling.

They might have ended the main part of the set with Current of the River; it’s a bit of a monster too. Before that we had Rumour Mill and the other singles, all were as well received as they ought to be. Rumour Mill is a bit of genius, it sums up nearly everything that I seem to experience on a daily basis – tall tales, cliques and whispers.

The encore featured a Stand and Deliver cover and The Decision, which again is genius although it seems to mean nothing. The Young Knives were on top form and hugely enjoyable to listen to, they’re definitely on their way to becoming future festival greats, in a Proclaimers-stylee (maybe). A notable mention has to go to the superb to-ing and fro-ing between Henry and House of Lords between songs; it was almost as entertaining as the music.


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