Concrete Knives (+ Melanie Page and Moccasin Mile) at The Musician, Leicester (6th Mar.)
Opening the Wednesday evening show was folk singer-songwriter, Melanie Page (not to be confused with 70s folk singer Melanie Paige), and for 40 minutes she sang songs from her debut LP, “Mother’s Children” released in July 2012. With a hippy stenciled acoustic guitar, and accompanied by vocal loops and electric acid leads, the folk vibe was soaked in atmospheric droned textures. For tunes, such as, “One Step”, “The Juggler” and “Sunset Wine” she sang with passion of love, the outsider and of natural beauty.
The mix of the bleak, the occasional cheery, finger picking, reverb heavy, e-bowed leads, and double tracked vocals, there was a certain Espers-like feel. She knows how to turn a negative into a positive, too. When a new pastoral song faltered because her new loop pedal messed things up, the good humoured explanation strove only to humanise and add a sense of fallible charm. I have to say I loved it.
Next to take the stage were Moccasin Mile, and they launched straight into “The Shine”, a spirited ska-inflected number with rapped lyrics and jazzy keys. Whilst youthful and vibrant, the 16-17 year old trio performed with a maturity beyond their years: Milly Bianchini’s voice has the smoky tones of a bygone blues singer, and is complimented by the lighter harmonies of guitarist, Kate Rendell and their young, but highly competent drummer, completes the picture. They surged through other numbers, like “Level Headed” – including synth pads - and by “Big Blue” had summoned some energetic dancing from some of the audience.
Concrete Knives (recently signed to Bella Union) appear from behind the curtain and the French 6–piece outfit engage strongly from the off. Their punk-funk is heavy on the percussion and filled with psych guitar riffage, group chants and is wonderfully animated. Theirs is a brand of quirky chic that draws on a myriad of influences and forms into a cohesive whole - lead singer, Morgane Colas, providing the chic with her appearance of a modern day Ya-Ya girl.
As for their influences, they twist the accented grooves of The Fall and Happy Mondays (as per their song of the same name) with maracas, synth and hand claps, dust off the new wave-disco of Blondie, embrace the spirit of the 100 club, pummel with the tribal drumming and collective war cries of Adam and the Ants and stab their sound with the art rock of Sonic Youth. With touches of hip-hop, Egyptian, African and Oriental modes, they shape an energetic, new, “tres cool” form.
I’m not too sure how Sting - as sloganeered on Nicolas Delahaye’s sweatshirt forms any part of their mix (nor Boston, as on the t-shirt revealed on removing the former) but certainly added to the absurd kitsch quality. Following an hour of songs from their debut LP, “Be Your Own King” they slow the pace slightly before closing. Though, after a short interval they return to perform an encore of three more tunes, the centrepiece of which is their excellent cover of Ini Kamoze’s “Lyrical Gangster”. They looked like enjoyed themselves throughout, as did the entire audience, with not a still body in the house.