Alice in Chains – O2 Academy (4/5)
At first, people wonder if they have wandered into the wrong venue. Having just witnessed the stange Swedish metal band Ghost, who fronted a sort skeleton-priest alongside guitar playing ghouls, perform their laughably dramatic odes to satan in a Rocky Horror manner, an unrecognisable band walks out onto the stage. There is a guy who resembles Lenny Kravitz taking the lead; a malnourished fellow on drums; a generic-looking metalhead on bass. And there is a middle aged man who seems to have been dragged through H&M.
“Hang on, is that…? Yes, It’s Jerry Cantrell, lead guitarist of one of America’s greatest ever rock bands Alice In Chains. But he’s cut his hair!” It’s the disappointment of this reincarnation of Alice In Chains that casts gloom over the gig.
Notwithstanding the quality of the music, with the jupiter-sized riffs and thrilling vocal harmonies of classics such as ‘We Die Young’, ‘Man In A Box’ and ‘Would?,’ one can’t help but think of what could have been. Vocalist Layne Staley, arguably the definitive martyr of the grunge movement above Kurt, and former bassist Mike Starr are no longer with us. Their initials on the kickdrum, where a band logo might be, are a perennial reminder of this tragedy. As soon as Jerry moves forward to exhibit his guitar wizardry, cameraphones appear in a desperate attempt to reclaim the angsty essence of 90s. But that is gone, already encapsulated and immortalised in Staley’s death.
The set ends on a bitterly nostalgic rendition of ‘Rooster,’ sung zealously by a crowd that leaves feeling momentarily moved, but enduringly resentful for the cruelty of loss.
Big Deal – Belgrave Music Hall (2/5)
What do you normally aim for when you go out to an indie-pop gig? Most likely, you want to catch some relaxed vibes of just being there, listening to minimalistic sonic waves with nice vocals surfing on top of them, enjoying the simplistic DIY atmosphere of the venue, drinking some cool craft beer. In other words, you don’t expect it to be a big deal. At least, you don’t really want it to be treated as one.
Big Deal, a girl/boy indie-pop duo from London came up with a miniature set of about 7 songs that night. “I forgot how to do anything. But I know you guys are doing good” jokingly said Kacey, the band’s guitarist to his fellow musicians and this slight tense of nervousness is probably indeed the best way to describe their performance. Although the collective played without any obvious flaws and further burnished their reputation of a solid and experienced indie outfit there was nothing beyond that. There was no touch of irony (seems quite odd for a band with such name), no clear sense of indie-pop placidity.
Big Deal played bits from their latest release ‘June Gloom’, a couple of songs from their old repertoire and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ cover (winner of a twitter competition which the band ran prior to the gig). As a result, they delivered an enjoyable yet ordinary train of dream-popesque tunes with catchy ‘Swapping Spit’ and ‘In Your Car’, the last album’s major forces being the songs to highlight as they were warmly greeted by the audience. Then the group swiftly left the stage. Few hesitant shouts among relatively confused listeners ensured that an encore was unlikely to happen. Thus, the show was over.
In the midst of the concert Kacey noticed: ‘We know that Yuck are playing down the road… so thanks for making the right choice’. Well, at least Mount Kimbie weren’t mentioned.
photos: NME & Kluens Photography