Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Indelicates - Live in New York & New Jersey

I can hardly contain my excitement, as The Indelicates have finally played some live shows in the New York Metropolitan area. I have been waiting to see them perform in person ever since discovering their existence last year.

That they were selected to open the sold-0ut shows for the reunited (and much ballyhooed) Vaselines only served to underscore what I had already come to know - that their music is of a high quality - and that the New York (and NJ) audiences were soon to find out.

Having made contact with the band prior to their arrival here, it was arranged to do a bit of a meet and greet before their first show - at Maxwells in Hoboken, New Jersey on Wednesday the 9th of July, 2008.

Meeting Julia of the Indelicates, pre-show

In many ways it was very much like meeting a someone you feel you know very well - as there had been quite a few lengthy 'e'-conversations over time. Everyone in The Indelicates are extremely friendly, down-to-earth people. Witty and quite funny too. It was a real pleasure to be around them.

With the other half of the frontline - Simon Indelicate

Chatting with the members of the band at the bar, prior to their soundcheck, I did a quick audio/video check by asking the bands rhythm guitarist (a most animated individual named Al) about some of the other work and projects he's involved in (which I was already somewhat aware of due to prior research)

Al with the band's drummer - Ed

Also in the band is a lovely young lady named Kate - who just happens to be quite a good bass player as well.

Rounding out the entourage was Keith - who is a known performer himself - playing in a number of different bands (Keith TOTP, The Art Goblins, The English Traveling Wilburys and Art Naif).

Here is Keith looking somewhat disturbingly happy (he was actually much more low-key than that).

Chit-chat over it was time for The Indelicates first ever show in the NY Metropolitan area.

Opening with a brilliant hybrid of Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" and their own "Fun Is For The Feeble Minded", the audience was instantly won over:

They followed that with songs "Sixteen" (one of their early hits back in the UK), "America" (which is the current featured song of their debut album "American Demo") and "Stars" where Julia sings ever-so-sweetly about subject matter much darker than one might initially might expect from this melody.

The band then played what is one of my fave Indelicates songs - "New Art For The People". On first hearing many months ago I was blown away the grand majesty and lyrical wit of it all. "But its so sad that you're so sad and your' so bad for me," both Simon and Julia alternately sing.

Simply put - its brilliant.

The set then progressed as they played another of their earlier (and Club Mondo fave) "Julia, We Don't Live In The 60's". The song is just a lyrically bright and witty as nearly all of their others - coupled with a particularly "peppy" tune - ah, but the darkness always lurks just beneath.

However, there is no such thing as a "live band" without a killer drummer - and Ed here provides the thunder with deceptive ease.

During soundcheck . . .

. . . and throughout the show

Julia then delivered her masterfully written "Our Daughters Will Never Be Free". Dealing as much with giving over control of yourself - that transcends a basic gender issue - the lyrics hit hard and take no prisoners: "I think its fine just to make people smile, I think its fine to force people to smile, make me a dolly, make me a princess, make me your baby, make me your goddess, rape me and beat me, rape us and beat us, rape us and beat us till we're black and blue - we made it ok on the day we said nothing - its better than something to say."

The song "Heroin" is one of those truly laugh-out-loud moments, the first time you hear it. It happened to me and it happens here at Maxwells too. You can clearly hear it on this clip:

I'm speaking of its lyrical content, of course, as the song itself is no joke. A truly beautiful and romantic melody introduces this one. Lovely piano intertwined with clean, undistorted guitar interplay. The second pass through provides a more dominant guitar line -- anthemic in its presentation.

Simon begins the tale, and one can't help but laugh at the clever and absurd description (and play on words) that comes with the lines "my herione is on heroin - but not the bad heroin, the good heroin that rockstars take, that heals the ache of the pain she's in". Julia's voice joins in when he gets to the part about her playing "acoustic guitar and flute, harp and theramin - on heroin".

To the bridge that returns to the opening melody line (and provides the songs 'hook') - "and oh, in this dead town. where the dead kids hang around. This must be Zion, they promised us Zion"
Whereby the term "Zion" references its most pure interpretation. That is an idealized, harmonious community. In short, a utopia. Which of course is a laugh in itself, as the reality is that to be numbed out on opiates is merely an illusion of "utopia".

But were dealing with *rock music* here, so the full band thunders in and the tempo quickens for the next verse. Simon sings about how she "wastes all her time at the wishing well" and how they are "dreamers. Oh, you should see us!"

Back to the gorgeous and hooky melody/bridge, where Simon and Julia sing in their unique two part harmonies.

The band closed out the set with their traditional show ender - "We Hate The Kids" - and then it was off to the post-show party. Some of the band managed to wedge their way back into the packed room at Maxwells for The Vaselines set - but as I was late in my attempt - I opted to see them the following night at Southpaw in Brooklyn. What I did hear was ace, however. I managed to catch "Molly's Lips".

The post-show banter was most entertaining.

Animated chatter could be heard all around.

I did my part in assisting the band in getting their equipment and themselves back to their hotel room in Manhattan (not too late in the night - or was that early morning?) - there was another show to do!

Brooklyn, New York
After sleeping all of the morning away (which is quite unusual for me these days) I popped on over to see if The Indelicates needed a lift to the club. As it turns out they did so off we went to Park Slope, Brooklyn where they would be playing that night.

Following the always early soundcheck - what was there to do then? Well, everyone was hungry so we went hunting for a place to eat.

After strolling the boulevard and looking in on many different dining options, Keith and Simon spotted a place called The Smokehouse. The name was so inviting. It was calling to us. We had visions of - well, "smoked" everything in this place. So it was settled.

It was a great place. Lively conversation ensued:

Kate enjoys Smokehouse water (served in quaint little mason jars)

Fully satisfied from our "smoked" meal, off for a wander round Brooklyn, again.
Since there was still a bit more time before the show, we decided to checkout one of the coffee houses.

This place was particularly good.

The perfect atmosphere for a few additional questions
(and laughs)
As it was getting close to showtime, everyone headed back to the venue.

Rock venues always have a certain "charm" to their backstage and dressing room areas:

I headed off to the main floor area, to stake out a prime viewing location.

Soon the Indelicates were back on stage and their setup benefitted from the larger area.

The performance was even better on this night.

The band altered their set list just a bit from the previous night.

Removing one song to add the controversal (and much misunderstood) "Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die" (which is not about wishing death on ol Pete, but in fact a social commentary on the media frenzy with which we live in).

It has to be noted at this point that rhythm guitarist Al is an absolute whirling dirvish on stage.

I don't doubt there might have been a few in the audience who weren't sure what to make of his high-energy antics, which alternated between good natured cheerleading and dark menacing scowls.

Still, the primary focus is front vocalists Simon & Julia - and their extremely witty, intelligent and hooky songwriting. Yes. They are that good.

With The Indelicates show now completed, the anticipation continued to build for headlinders The Vaselines.

They did not disappoint their fans.

Frances McKee, looking (and sounding) very much like she did "back in the day" and Eugene Kelly sounding (though not particularly looking) the way die-hard Vaselines fans remember.

In fact, Eugene made a joke about this from the stage, saying how "time had been kind to Frances" but it had "got him in a headlock and kicked him in the teeth".

There was plenty of this good natured banter between the two front people throughout the night. Suprisingly, it was the pixie-like Frances who told the more racy stories and continually tweaked the boys with sexual innuendo. Various members of Belle & Sebastian filled out the rest of the band.

It was a packed house at Southpaw, and as far as I could tell, no one left disappointed.
While The Vaselines have headed off to other parts of the globe, The Indelicates remain in New York. They play their headline showcase show for Club Mondo at Don Hills on Friday, the 18th of July.
I can't recommend them enough.
See these links for all the info:


Shawna said...

thank you for introducing me to a new band. i had never heard of them before!

DaveCromwell said...

By all means check them out further, Shawna. You will not be disappointed.

x said...

Here's an original band- I mean even their name screams of originality, humour and energy. The sound is very interesting and yup, I'm gonna find some time and listen to more of their stuff, too. Very good and detailed review + cool pics and videos. Now THAT'S a bunch of interesting facts!