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Fool’s Gold/Lawrence Arabia – White Heat/Madame JoJo’s, 26.01.10

January 28, 2010

I’ve decided that I really need to find new friends to take to gigs with me. Last time, there were all sorts of prejudiced preconceptions about an all-female support band but nothing compared to outcry that Lawrence Arabia caused. The New Zealand outfit had barely even plugged a mic in, before my horrified mate declared ‘MANBAND’ ever so loudly in my ear.

And that was it. There was no stopping him after that. Despite silently enjoying their opening track ‘The Crew of the Commodore’ for being a blissed-out version of a Jeff Buckley tune, I couldn’t escape the running commentary for the rest of their set:

‘Look at all those over-30 year old women in the front (yes, along with misogynistic and anti-manband, my mate also appears to be ageist), they’re lovin’ it. (Puts on mocking female voice) They’re like the JLS of our time.’

‘Look at the guitarist’s face! He’s so into it. I can’t stop watching him.’

‘Oh man, they’re so heavy. Imagine being their girlfriend! You’d forget to buy butter and then they’d be all ‘Oh you forgot to buy butter, I think I’m going to go write a song about you forgetting the butter…’’

‘If I was baked, I’d be well into this. I’d be like, their harmonies are AMAZING!’

There was a slightly constructive comment that they sounded like Radiohead meets the Beach Boys but, once I’d finally managed to overt my eyes from the guitarist who, it turned out, really was gurning and grimacing in time to his riffs, the stage really was rather awkwardly testosterone-filled. Far too many ‘serious’ musicians in ill-fitting jeans. In the words of Boy Better Know: ‘We need some more girls in here, we need some more girls in here, there’s too many man, too many many man!’

Quite why this same outrage didn’t transfer to Fool’s Gold, who upped Lawrence Arabia’s man-count from 5 to 7, I’m not sure. But I’m guessing that if your music and show is as rocking as FG’s, you can squeeze as many men onto the tiny stage in Madame JoJo’s as you like and no one, not even my mate, is going to mind.

Without wasting time, they went straight for ‘Nadine’ and within seconds the entire venue was one nation under a groove. You couldn’t help it, like some rhythmic juju, you had to dance.  And that compulsion only grew stronger, once they hit us with ‘Surprise Hotel’ – a most obvious crowd-pleaser.

Soho couldn’t have escaped the bounce from below. Luke Top’s singing mesmerised the masses from ‘Poseidon’ right through to the closer ‘The World Is All There Is’.  There was an impressive array of percussion, all put to expert use, but more than anything Lewis Pesacov’s guitar playing made it to another level. Like a studious disciple of Malian musician Ali Farka Touré and Nigerian highlife legend King Sunny Ade, Pesacov ripped into the melody with aching precision.

Working every song up into at least an 8-minute long jam session, squeezing out as much juice as possible, there was still no sign of exhaustion – from them or the audience – by the time they’d jumped into the crowd for the grand finale. With the entire venue holding down the vocals for ‘The World Is Not Enough’ and the band having abandoned all instrumentation apart from various percussion and Top’s bass, Fool’s Gold ended the set on a grand sing-a-long high. And no one could berate them the missing encore.

[originally reviewed for Bearded]

One Comment leave one →
  1. Oldskoolninja permalink
    January 29, 2010 2:04 pm

    I am hooked on your blog. Just keep hitting us with your fresh reviwes and it will be all good.

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