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BEHIND THE VEILS
:: The Veils :: New Rhodes ::
21 November 2006 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Cast your mind back, if it goes that far, to 2001. British guitar pop lay all but dead as the most charitable nostalgics struggled to care about Travis and Turin Brakes, whilst over in New York The Strokes and Interpol were packing their cases to come over and show us how we'd lost our way. And somewhere in Bristol New Rhodes set out to challenge the city's trip-hop hegemony with their sparkling, traditional brand of indie pop. Five years - and New Rhodes are still playing support slots, albeit with a few smalltime indie releases under their belts. It'd probably be easier to list the bands they haven't played with than those they have; they know the drill. Bittersweet tunes, urgent melodic guitar lines; shades of the Smiths and the Wedding Present; four rather affable looking indie boys addressing the crowd politely between songs - they are almost impossible to dislike. As such, they are the perfect support band; and pleasant and enjoyable as their shining little set might be, you hope that this isn't their only possible destiny.

The Veils' acclaimed 2004 debut album "The Runaway Found" was barely out of the pressing plant when the band imploded, so it was a bit of a surprise when their name started to reappear on listings. It soon became apparent this was a completely different band; that frontman Finn Andrews had somehow disposed of or fallen out with the original Veils. In his hat, white shirt and drainpipes; unshaven and the sort of hollow-eyed skinny that usually implies a true "rock star diet" he bears a striking resemblance to Pete Doherty, and he's got that intangible frontman charisma that makes him compelling to watch. Most of tonight's set is drawn from Veils Mk II's recent album "Nux Vomica" and comes from that black place between country, goth and Americana, where bleached animal bones line dusty roads and whose best known inhabitant is Nick Cave. When words are recognisable through Andrews' frequently consonant-depleted drawl they seem so very much older than his 23 years. Things cheer up a little mid-set with "The Tide That Left And Never Came Back" still getting the biggest cheer of the night, a wonderful piece of dark-edged pop wth that perfect descending guitar riff, even if it, too, sounds like it's had a few wild nights out over the couple of years since its single release. During the folky upbeat "Advice For Young Mothers To Be" I'm sure I even saw bassist Sophia Burn smile briefly. But overall, The Veils 2006 style is an invigoratingly cathartic experience; finishing with a typically intense "More Heat Than Light" Andrews' passion channels into wordless howls as the organ screams and the drums rage, and it's a beautiful noise.



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