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FESTIVAL OF BRITON (THURS)
:: Jackie O :: Moco :: The Obsession ::
09 October 2003 / The Roadhouse / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Jackson Starfield is possessed of the most rock’n’roll name in town and a nice feral howl to match. It’s early, the Roadhouse is half empty but in his head he’s clearly conquering CBGBs on a hot night in 1977. “They sound a bit like The Damned” said my mate, which Jackie O may find horrifying or flattering but she meant it in a good way. Starfield’s guitar spits distorted melodies and the rhythm section crunch. This is the sound of a band who feed off each other to the point where each probably knows when the others are breathing. Songs start and stop perfectly, sometimes several times; time signatures chop and change and not a single beat is missed. Sometimes they appear to be playing several tunes ot once and then it all just slips back together again. They could easily have the White Stripes for breakfast and still have room for an Elvis squirrel-burger. Sometimes you forget they are Mancunian, until you realise that the NME aren’t slobbering round their rock-boots and there are no supermodels in the house. Actually, no, what’s that… no, my mistake, it’s just Steve Moco in his new outfit, more on which later…

The Obsession are next up. Now I have to confess I have spent much of the last year avoiding this band after ODing on them in various support slots throughout 2002. It’s not that all the ingredients aren’t there – the singer’s Ian Curtis meets Iggy posturing, the guitarist’s studied one-of-the-blokes-from-Blondie cool, the joyous three chord thrash, I just always found them a bit… OK; new-wave-by-numbers. They’ve definitely improved a lot. The tunes are better, the sound more focused, and whilst it’s still a little lacking in originality you don’t always want originality. Sometimes you just want to watch four people in tight black leathers whacking out two minute slabs of energetic thrash, and this they do perfectly.

Now few bands polarise Mancunian opinion they way Moco do. I mean you don’t get City Life’s gossip column reporting on sightings of, oh I dunno, Haven, do you? Thus they probably need no introduction, although those who missed this gig may appreciate a quick sartorial round-up: Steve Jones is resplendent in a yellow, possibly ladies’ all-in-one. Think Barbie Goes Skiing. Oh, and frankly terrifying brown stack-heeled boots. Monsieur Rigby on the other hand is now sporting an Afro the size of a space-hopper. And Simon’s hair appears finally to have eaten him, allowing his arms out now and again to hammer the drumkit. Nick, as ever, looks relatively sane by comparison, but then most people would really. I am, as you may have guessed, very much on the Moco Are Fantastic side of the city, and they do not disappoint. By half way through “Loaded” Steve has unleashed his legendary body hair on us, although thankfully stops short of setting fire to his pubes this time round, an act which disturbed me for weeks… And you can’t escape the fact that they have a salvo of great tunes! Singles Miss Mantaray and Where She Goes should be on anyone’s getting ready to go out tape, it’s musical Red Bull only without the funny taste. Steve looks slightly more confident with the guitar these days too, although he’s still at his best when fully unleashed. It’s all over far too quickly but not before Flooky Wonderland, one of the most awesome debut singles ever, brings Steve and his on-display pants out into the crowd, and it’s only after I’ve had a good feel of that fat-free stomach that I spot someone pointing a video camera in our general direction. Great music should make you do things like this. I think.

So where were these three in the NME’s recent Top Whatever New bands in Britain then? Fuck knows. Having endured some of the ones they did tip, I’m once again grateful to live in Manchester…





(pix : Karen McBride)


Resources:
The Obsession Web
Moco Web
Karen McBrides Website

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