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MID-TABLE MATCH
:: O Children :: The Chapman Family ::
15 March 2011 / Ruby Lounge / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

"This is a new song about... not being able to drive." And they say young bands lack inspiration these days!? Suppose it beats the florid death-poetry that used to generally accompany this sort of music when it was originally about, anyway. Most flavours of post-punk have been revived to death (if that's not too much of a contradiction) these past few years, but Goth remains the path least trodden. It's hardly the fault of its artistic originators that by the mid-80s it had descended largely into pantomime; thankfully it's those early exponents of genuine delicious darkness that O Children decided to emulate (once they'd got over their initial Joy Division phase) and the new material showcased tonight is in much the same vein as their 2010 debut album. Which basically means the good songs are brilliant slabs of passive-aggressive minor-key paranoia, but lesser tracks dirge on a bit. No matter, there's always perenially compelling singer Tobi O'Kandi to watch. Our concerns about headroom clearance for the six foot eight frontman and low stage ceiling are unfounded, although it's initially something of a subdued performance by his standards and indeed the band's in general. When they turn up the pace and energy a bit for tracks like "Radio Waves" they suddenly hit the spot, with Tobi thrusting his wiry frame at the front rows and the PiL-shirted Harry throwing his bass around (although the effect is a little diminished when it chooses this point to cut out); interesting to see a handful of older and presumably original-era goths in the crowd, though, and if O Children can appeal to a group notoriously distrustful of most music made in a year starting with a 2 then they must be doing something right.

Two songs in and Kingsley Chapman has already insulted a section of his audience - those who choose download singles over physical product. "Cyber-cunts", apparently. Oops. Apology. What? Sell-outs! Never heard The Chapman Family, tonight's second course on this Artrocker-backed double-header tour, apologise for anything before. The first couple of times we saw them they managed to be both gratuitously offensive and slightly scary. Have the North East scene's nastier and more interesting little brothers grown up? Maybe a bit, but... ah well, we've still got the tunes: "All That's Left To Break" kicked off the set in typically energetic style, singles "All Fall" and "Anxiety" sound powerful as anything and there's a small mass of jumping enthusiasm down the front. They're a strange band really, their basic template of paranoid, rattling post-punk augmented by some heavy-pop guitars that drop them somewhere between easy pigeonholes even if most of the ingredients are quite familiar, and people seem to drift back towards to bar. It's always worth watching this band to the end, though, as that's when they get really intense: strobes flash, one of them vaults the barrier for a quick pogo in crowd and the rest of them descend into a visceral thrash - and much like O Children you're left thinking yeah, when they're good they're very good but why can't it all be like that?


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The Chapman Family
O Children

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