Saturday, 12 April 2008

Anni Rossi/The Ting Tings @ The Sugarmill, Hanley. April 10th.

Anni Rossi / The Ting Tings @ The Sugarmill 10th April 2008

Review by Steve Dean

Photo by Simon Bamford

It is not often one comes across a viola player in clubs such as the Sugarmill, but Minnesota girl Anni Rossi showed us just what we had all been missing. Appearing a little troubled as she stalked purposefully onto the stage, she began her solo act with no announcement; strumming, plucking and rapping at the strings of her viola as if it were a kind of bow-struck, yet percussive guitar; although still supported at the neck in the manner of the violin. Appearing to relax after the very cordial reception of her opening number Miss Rossi went on to demonstrate a fascinating mastery of her chosen approach to her instrument. Stamping her feet to a strong and constant rhythm, her attractively lilting voice lifted every pain of love and life she sung of to a new level of sensitivity. Linda Perry sprung to mind at moments, but in no way can Anni Rossi really be compared to anybody; she is very much in a class of her own. Different; and very, very good.

Coming onstage to the strains of Talking Heads’ ‘Once in a Lifetime’, The Ting Tings were given the type of reception only the much-anticipated could receive. Apart from the obvious, ie; Katie’s stunning good looks, the first thing that hit me once they kicked in was the fantastic drumming and overall percussion offered by Jules, the other half of The Ting Tings’ sparse ranks. In fact, the relentlessly thumping beats attached to most of their material is a major part of their overall live sound; at one point Katie joining him on a mallet-struck bass drum and cowbell for one almighty beat session; leaving possibly only the totally insensitive failing to rhythmically move one part of their body or another. An accomplished musician, Jules also does a great job of vocal accompaniment and even took over from Katie on guitar for one more intricately-chorded number. For producing sheer, unshamedly commercial pop music, this act would be hard to better. Opening with ‘Great DJ’, with its oddly gripping ‘ah-ah ah ah’ hookline, they dazzled with one strong, catchy number after another. Playing an assortment of classic electric guitars to Jules’ incessant rhythms, Katie, adequately backed up by his equally strong voice, sings with all the energy and projected emotion of soul voices of the early sixties; bringing Ronnie Spector and Little Eva to mind in places. Finishing with the can’t-help-but-sing-along ‘That’s Not My Name’, they returned for a well-deserved encore, for which they played the title track of their new album ‘We Started Nothing’. Sounded just as good as all the others to me. I reckon this pair are going to be as big as it gets.

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