The news is out.
The hot poop of a new 'new pop' hitpack is in our midst in the
shape of Manchester's latest contribution to the great British
Ladies and gentlemen... The Distractions!
the wake of an excellent second single on Factory in Time Goes
By So Slow, my expectations for this, the fivesome's London
debut, were high
I didn't go away disappointed
The Distractions are a surprisingly different kettle of kinetic
excitement to their mighty single. A fair slice of the stylish
subtlety and elegance they muster in the studio is lost in the
confines of a live set. In its place is a rough abrasion and
an occasionally wacky exuberance that recalls nothing so much
as the infectious joie de vivre of The Mekons
rapport with the crowd could best be described as 'chummy'
Steve Perrin spends most of his time between-songs making dedications
to various members of the audience, including your reviewer.
In the centre of the stage, vocalist Mike Finney cuts an unlikely
figure. A sort of suave Billy Bunter type character in a dinner
jacket. "Yeah, it looks very smart," he quips at one
stage, "until you notice all the beer stains!"
set started badly with Finney's guttural, nasal voice coming
across with none of the force of the record; but it grew momentum
with every song
With initial nerves giving way to an obvious
relish of actually being on stage, the group reached a peak
on the yearning 'Time goes by' and the closing 'Valerie: I love
valerie, but valerie's in love with you'
The only real black
spot of the evening came with the encore, an unamusing murder
of Betty Wright's Shoorah shoorah that was hardly worthy of
Nevertheless, it provided a good balance for
what followed: the disorientating hard rock of Joy Division
to Joy Division, most other bands working in supposedly left
field areas are like light entertainers on the Saturday Night
Never a group to conform to expectations, they opened
with the new Atmosphere, an Eno-esque dirge
of awesome proportions with guitarist Bernard Albrecht on organ and
vocalist Ian Curtis in the unaccustomed
role of guitarist
From there on, it was the usual set, split
equally between standards from the Unknown Pleasures album and a
welter of typically graphic new songs
Like Gang Of Four and
the Banshees, each instrument retains a crisp, distinctive identity:
the overloaded, distorted Rickenbacker bass of Peter Hook; Albrecht's incisive guitar
figures; the primal, syndrum-embellished thwack of Steve Morris; and the gruff intensity
of Curtis's vocal
Mancunians Buzzcocks are a brave
band indeed to take Joy Division on their forthcoming UK tour as main support.
I can think of very few groups who are capable of following