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:: Performance :: The Bravery :: ¡Forward, Russia! ::
29 November 2004 / The Roadhouse / Manchester

The second High Voltage event in five days is quite clearly the hottest ticket in town this week. With just one single under their studded belts The Bravery have already had a full page in NME and a Later appearance, and every internet music forum’s talking about them. It’s all happened rather quickly and it’s a fair bet that many of the crowd are here not as major fans but to see what all the fuss is about.

A real bonus for those arriving early enough (It’s Monday at the Roadhouse, and no you don’t have time for a pre-gig pint) is Leeds four-piece Forward Russia. They’re loud, fast and have been together just a few months but take the popular post-punk blueprint and inject it with a very large dose of adrenaline. The singer, a gangly type with unruly hair, rarely stays still for a second whilst dance-spiked riffs and breezy tunes bring to mind XTC if they’d done less acid and more speed. One track is even in 5/4 time which has got to be the ultimate spiky beat - aided by the drummer shouting 1 to 5 into a mic as she beats her kit into oblivion. Unfortunately her distinctly non-girly style is a bit too much for the drum kit and bits start to fall off, but they recover for another couple of two minute blasts that leave most people smiling.

Except, of course, for the fashionista wing of Performance’s fan-base who do not smile as it is not cool. From the sequencer mistress’s outrageous curtain-dress-cape to the boys’ frilly shirts and eye make-up, Performance have such a strong image you don’t necessarily expect the music to be much good, but at their best they effortlessly merge the finest moments of florid New Romantic pop with ice-cold Arthur Baker beats. The fourth Performer, peroxide pouting and even tinier than she looks on photos, supplies guitar lines reminiscent of Hooky’s basslines. Vocals wise there is a lot of Phil Oakey going on and the lyrics, too, are 80s tosh of the very best kind with at least one line in German. As with any New Romantic revival there’s a fine line between homage and parody , and if you’ve ever seen (Perrier award winning New Romantic spoof character comic) Gary Le Strange there are times when you can’t really tell the difference. Other times you’re amazed their Killers-only-with-less-guitar poppier tunes aren’t all over the radio already. And anyone who can bring a bit of glamour to Withington should only be encouraged.

So, to the big draw. The Bravery are most certainly not pretty boys, the towering singer all gruff rockabilly with an impressively constructed quiff and turn-ups as big as his boots. The bassist, similarly quiffed up, actually pulls off the remarkable feat of looking absolutely hard as nails whilst wearing not just eyeliner but eyeshadow too. Also impressive is the fact that they bring three beers each onstage for a half hour set. Bravery or Dutch courage? Opener Honest Mistake is a competent take on the English-born American-bred sound beloved of the likes of The Stills, with the singer’s voice joining his quiff in soaring Moz appreciation. Single Unconditional isn’t a bad tune and is understandably well received being the sum total of most peoples’ experience of the band to date, and there are shades of a more tuneful and squawk-free Robert Smith in there too. Tyrant treads the Killers-do-Duran-Duran path, and it’s hard not to feel like you’re ticking boxes sometimes - oh there’s one of those riffs Interpol borrowed off the Chameleons, and doesn’t the guitarist look like a spare part from the Strokes… they’re pretty good at what they do and certainly enjoyable to watch live, but I’m left wondering if anyone’s record collection actually needs them. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys.

The Bravery

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