Friday, 22 October 2010

Live: My Third Leg/Four Letter Cure - The Comedy Pub, Piccadilly Circus 22/10/10

It's been nearly 10 long months since I last checked out a local scene gig, which is an inexcusably long amount of time. Now that I'm safely out the other side of A-levels, coursework and exams in roughly one piece, and now looking forward to a gap year of doing precisely nothing except work and twiddle my thumbs a bit, I can turn my attention back to the scene, and tonight at a tiny subterranean bar tucked in the shadows of the neon lights of Piccadilly Circus, I decided to get a minor glimpse of what I'd been missing. At least, initially that was the plan.

Firstly, finding the damn place was a mission in itself, what with it being part of about 5 venues in the same street named 'The Comedy (blank)'. But having stumbled through pretty much all the variations of said venue title, I finally found the mystical set of stairs to ascend to the tiny basement bar which would form the setting for tonight's show. When I got there, I discovered that only one member of Four Letter Cure had actually showed up - I was told they were planning on calling quits after 2 more gigs anyway, so maybe they decided to speed the process up a bit? I dunno. I'm not gonna speculate further, and I'd be interested to hear from people about how the situation lies. Thankfully, all constituent parts of My Third Leg were there, plus what could be called a half-decent little entourage for them. Also, it's worth noting that I was being facetious earlier - there was a third band scheduled for this evening, but I saw nothing in their sound check or tunes to persuade me to stick around for their set. In fact, if anything, the sound check put me right off them - old good-time rock 'n' roll with watered-down rock, no roll, a desperate lack of a good time and a guitarist who had a bad case of head firmly stuck up own arse, with all the other members having to settle with mild case of face I want to punch hard. And keyboards that just shat on all the other instruments. I've heard bands with full horn sections not sound as messy as this, seriously. Oh, and buggering off after you've done your asinine and stupidly smug soundcheck and only arriving back at your own bloody show when it's your time to go on is only going to further people's impressions that you think you're bigger than you are and are therefore complete pretentious twats. Right, that's the surplus bile dispensed with, on with the two (or rather one and a half, ish) other good bands here tonight.

Four Letter Cure (5/10) - or more like Two Letter UnSure considering as only frontman Hassan Afenah was present, along with two acoustic guitars (one rather cheap and battered) and his sidekick Asher on extra guitar and vocal duties - were on first, and it's rather hard to be harsh to them, considering the circumstances. If I tell you that they were practicing their set when I arrived, that'll tell you the level of preparation they were afforded, and considering it all, they did pretty well. What they lacked in tightness and accuracy, they made up for in easy humour, and when the stars did align and the two guitars and sets of vocals matched together relatively seamlessly, there was definitely promise on show. It might be an easy comparison to make, but a Torn Out vibe emanated from them, and Hassan's gravelly and soulful voice worked surprisingly well out of a harsh electric context, and their set showed a nice talent for reworking powerful punk songs into campfire acoustic singalongs - oh, and they earn additional kudos for nearly pulling off a great cover of Rise Against's 'Like The Angel', complete with an aborted attempt on the solo.

To give the next part of the review some context, my first local scene show was the epic all-day event in August 2009. That day, a band named the Constant G's graced the outside stage, and found themselves in a similar situation that Four Letter Cure found themselves in tonight - hastily re-organising their lineup and set in liu of members bailing out at the last minute. Their set was therefore pretty shambolic, but in keeping with the spirit of the day, it was still fun and full of energy. This hastily cobbled together lineup eventually formed the basis for the band we see before us tonight, My Third Leg (7.5/10). Maybe it's because of the not great first impression I got, and I might be being overly harsh on them, but I did view them for a while as a handy band to open every LSP show assembled - a nifty and fun little band to open every LSP show, but still, not a band I took entirely seriously. But in the time I've been away from the scene, they've really began to go places and, if you'll pardon the phrase, get their shit together. They've recorded an EP of material, been touring hard and working on their stage craft, and with a full album and possibly bigger venues and full-length tours on the horizon, M3L are ready to start really making a name for themselves in the scene - and smash any lingering and unwarranted cynicism I had about them through the bar windows and out into the street. In the end they did just that, and in some style too, with a set that mixed everything that was always good about them - plenty of skanking riffs and an eye for fun - with improved dexterity, confidence and precision. Singer and lead guitarist Will Woodrow has really grown into his frontman duties - he now has a unique character to his voice and I was impressed with how he flitted from delicate lead lines to high-intensity strumming with ease. Probably the biggest improvement of all is how the band now gel as a unit - transitions from time signatures and styles flow a little more now, where before they felt forced and a bit strained, and part of that credit has to go to the rhythm section of bassist Dave Ja Vu and drummer Paul Smith. Sure, Paul still arses up the odd fill, but he is now a technically solid drummer, and he and Dave create a foundation for Will and skank-tastic rhythm guitarist Mike Smith to lock into. And let's face it, it probably wouldn't feel right if Paul didn't arse at least one thing up.

So to sum up, a very enjoyable and fun evening, and a slice of humble pie is in the microwave as we speak. Now time to knuckle down for what should hopefully, fingers crossed and touch wood, be an epic in the making down in Deal tomorrow. See you there!

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