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:: TV On The Radio :: White City Crime Club ::
09 November 2006 / Club Academy (Academy 4) / Manchester
By James Hinchcliffe

Antwerp's WHITE CITY CRIME CLUB are in no mood to mess about, quickly crafting a thunderous but tuneful, dark yet slightly romantic noise not dissimilar to Interpol (but quicker) or maybe Bikini Atoll, whose jagged flair they match if not with quite the same finesse. Only one song in and the Devendra Banhart lookalike drummer has had enough of his shirt - a fearsome sight but he's maybe the band's key player, at all times driving them forward with thumping intensity. The dual vocals tend to get lost a little in the maelstrom but it's engaging fare - by no means original but like a good essay cheat they seem to be stealing from many reliable sources and reassembling the whole without letting the seams show too obviously. Promising.

The first time I heard TV ON THE RADIO I reacted with the kind of horror I tend to only reserve for when I hear something so "out there" and unique that I instantly know it must be either wonderful or terrible (and the fact that I ask myself that question in the first place implies deep down I know it's the former)....which is a long-winded way of giving my explanation as to why this most critically-acclaimed of bands might this year be playing venues the size of Night And Day and now the largely-unsuitable-for-gigs-in-general (it looks and feels more like a nightclub) new Club Academy as opposed to somewhere more suitably vast. They're a genuinely innovative and terrific band is probably why - both points expertly highlighted from the off by guitarist Dave Sitek hanging windchimes from his guitar and singer Kyp Malone whistling a long intro before flying headlong into the outstanding Hurricane Katrina-inspired "Dirty whirl". It's a fabulous spectacle and probably the best opening song to a gig I've seen this year, Malone's intense, soulful vocal quite something else.

Not all plain sailing from here, though, as swiftly following this - just as on record - they are by no means without fault. I remember a (harsh) review of a Sonic Youth LP in NME several years ago that declared it was (paraphrasing here, I'm obsessive enough to remember old NME passages but not verbatim) "yet another (Sonic Youth) LP that refuses to drop its trousers and have some fun" - this is something you could maybe level at TVOTR, who would in my view benefit from an occasional frivolous side. Not surprisingly tonight the torrent of buzzsaw guitar overpowers things a bit in stretches and the whole thing becomes a bit over-tight and po-faced and ultimately hits an average impasse. It's short-lived, though, and it only takes a magnificent "Province" (no Bowie tonight, not unreasonably) to claw it all back and over the course of the show the terrific - gladly - far outweighs the ordinary. Oh and that frivolous side does appear a little, on the penultimate number of the main set where the stage is filled by support act members and other associates, armed with drums, hand-held percussion and whatever they can lay their hands on, really - a rhythmic tub-thumping frenzy ensues and they even show The Flaming Lips how you really utilise a siren (ie sparingly). Great stuff.

TV On The Radio, then. Intermittently as vital and sublime as rock n' roll gets and just occasionally a little rigid and one-dimensional. We should take that.

TV On The Radio
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