Sunday, 18 October 2009

Another Rhythm Jesus / She is Sue/ The Chapman Family @ The Sugarmill 16th October 2009

Review by Charlotte Lunt

Photos by Chris Bostock

A ruefully empty Sugarmill was the venue for a gig which for my money ranks amongst the best I’ve seen this year.

Opening the night was Burton based ‘Another Rhythm Jesus’ hotly tipped by local music hero Dave Hamer, and it was easy to see why. Melding jazz rhythms with an edge of (somewhat tongue in cheek) Sonic Youth, they presented a timeless set of music. Swapping instruments and vocal leads throughout the set they moved effortlessly through a range of differing styles. From ‘Greyhound’ with its “weird rhythm” and vocals reminiscent of early Siouxsie Sioux, to ‘Haircut’ which was a cheeky little number with a decidedly dirty bass line.
Their last song ‘Punch numb’ combined a bedrock of soaring guitars and indomitable vocals, giving it a real horizon-chasing road trip feel, then just when least expected a chord progression which takes the track on a jovial circuitous route back to the dark edge of the witch hunt it narrates.

She is Sue, lightened the mood somewhat with a sound that struck me immediately as sounding like a hi-bred of The Sport and The Control. Not that this is a bad thing. Providing bite-size indie numbers to the audience and with a particularly candid performance by their guitarist, I found myself wondering if the performance would’ve been more energetic if they weren’t constrained by the coats that the frosty temperature of the mill demanded. At times the delivery of the lyrics was so fast that the sonorous vocals of the front man.

For the last couple of songs they were joined by a sax player, who I understand is to become a permanent fixture in their line up, which gives them a slight edge over other guitar based bands. The audience now replete with a banner for aforementioned sax player, started venturing forwards appearing to thaw out somewhat. Whilst firmly in the indie trenches, She is Sue’s music would not be out of place on any given Brat-pack Soundtrack, not because it harks back to the 80’s but it does have that feel good actor about it; one to hear ringing in your ears as you watch the protagonist heading off into the sunset.
One of the emptiest stages I have seen in a while lulled me in to a false sense of security as The Chapman Family cranked up the volume. Opening in a very measured fashion; such an understated approach coupled with the clarity and menace of Kingsley’s vocals could lead to comparisons to Glasvegas, but The Chapman Family deliver an entirely different level of anger; equally brooding but I’m tempted to believe these guys might just swing the first punch.

A real electric charge emanated from the stage during the first song whilst Kingsley repeatedly wound the mic lead round his neck in a macabre imitation of hanging with his eyes rolling back in his head, surrounded by pounding drums, frenetic strumming, and a bassist seemingly possessed by a greater force. Treating us to a “ballard”, a number with far more commercial appeal than its predecessors showed why this band have been so hotly tipped, and why perhaps they have escaped being pigeon-holder into one specific genre.
The stark picture on their promo poster does not give a true picture of what this band is about. Whilst they are from the darker edge of the music spectrum, they are a band who clearly have a good sense of humour, and who are eager to take their music to new audiences as shown by their current 31 night tour. They give a sinister whirlwind of a performance, which tonight included a superb rendition of ‘Kids’, as well as forthcoming single ‘VIrgins’.

Their last song grew to a catatonic and climactic finish, and as the last chords rang out, negotiations were underway for an encore. With the same disconcerting faux-suicide visuals as their opening number and wave after wave of feedback, this is the sort of music that drives accelerators to floors, and sends tribes charging into battle (but may not be for the average Sun journalist).

Another Rhythm Jesus
She is Sue
The Chapman Family

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