It is of course an acknowledged ‘funny age’ – as the oft-relayed list of luminaries who died aged 27 ( Kurt Cobain , Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, The Elephant Man...all producing some quality music before leaving us prematurley....except The Doors, obviously. bbdum-dum-tsh ) will attest - being unavoidably conflicted all-day-everyday between looking back & forward is such a constant headache that it makes you do weird things, make stupid plans and then (even whilst doing them) think “why?”.
On taking my place about ten feet from the stage, as an encapsulation of these divergent mental paths , this scenario really came into its own ; am I too young to be thinking “look at this tit’s haircut...and a scarf? Indoors?! Behave.” Or am I in fact too old to be thinking I can legitimately be interested enough to attend concerts by ‘up and coming’ bands and treat music as anything other than the soundtrack to badly done Sky Sports montages ?
Margaret Thatcher is once said to have twattishly remarked
“A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure”
Which, aside from the hardly-worth-mentioning abhorrent self-preservation & look-after-yourself preference for greed-trophy,mines-bigger-than-yours, individualistic car travel over the well-intentioned, available-to-all (although invariably unreliable & , frankly , poor) community focused public transport is hardly the kind of rhetoric to inspire much clarity or pride in a person in that age bracket.
The omens augured ill when during a pre-gig drink we were interrupted by a 50 something hen-party dressed as French peasants and asked to donate underwear to fulfil one of their ‘only night out of the decade’ challenges. This is a hot-bed of hennery – as anyone who has been on a weekend train bound for Blackpool will verify ; the only more common passenger stereotype than ‘turkey-necked-over-tanned-horrors-in-risqué-T-Shirts’ is ‘ear-ringed-meff-sitting-drinking-Carling-pretending-to-be-heading-to-Blackpool-just-so-they-can-indulge-in-a-fleeting-bit-of-banter-with-hen-parties-and-say-“well, i might see you if you pop out later than luv!”’. And by these (admittedly base-level) standards the group we encountered were well mannered if somewhat barking up a tree containing the two people least likely to actually engage in such banter it would be possible to imagine.
Anyway. After a seemingly interminable awkward shuffle about the dark, sparsely populated library, the first band came on. Fenech Soler, valiantly flying the flag as surely the only band to fight out of Kings Cliffe, Northants .
The second act, Chew Lips, despite a fairly shocking name was the band (their song ‘seven’ in particular) who ‘inspired’ this venture & they entered the tiny stage after a thankfully brief change-over period. A similar sound (almost as if someone organising the event had put some thought into the pairing...) but immediately more confident , cool & savvy , less naively excited & ebullient than the support , belying the fact that they have been garnering the sort of ‘credible’ heat that would usually make me massively sceptical , they barely paused in a classy, sexy & brilliantly-paced 40 minute demonstration of electro-pop.
To say that the singer ‘Tigs’ is the focus of attention when the trio are on stage would be a bit like a scout singling out Matt Le Tissier as “one to watch” in Southampton’s early 90s line-ups. “Multi-instrumentalists” Will Sanderson and James Watkins certainly play their part in filling the perfectly judged Yeah Yeah Yeahs default backing setting with regular twists & enough-but-not-too-many electo flourishes to deserve not to be ignored but they may as well be two gargoyle book-ends to the stage robotically jabbing at a xylophone such is the relative command of the stage the singer takes. Photos don't really do justice to the level of “cant take your eyes off her” engendered as she strutted & intoned – managing a fairly difficult mixture of vulnerability & confidence & basically creating an irresistible vibe not unlike Scarlett Johansson playing Debbie Harry as a primly well-spoken bookish English hipster in sparkly denim hotpants. A winning look I think we can all agree, especially framed faded blue neon lights .
The new single Karen is more pop-orientated with the techno/electro dyed fleks hidden subtly in a head of glossy , sleek hair. The tune is better than that description , honestly ;
So, Chew Lips a band that deserve to really kick on and make an impact.
One positive way of answering the conundrum mentioned earlier when taking position pre-gig this is to resolve that , really, you’re never too young to adopt a sneeringly dismissive attitude to badly turned out people – and never too old to attribute unrealistic & unjustifiable importance to essentially disposable forms of entertainment.