Thursday, May 8th, 2008
The Last Day Of Magic
Photo by Frank Yang
I went into Tuesday night’s Kills show at the Opera House most interested in how the duo of Jaime Hince and Alison Mosshart – Hotel and VV to their friends – would pull it off live. Their latest album Midnight Boom, the only one of theirs I’m familiar with, is not the sound of two people playing live. It’s a patchwork of buzzing guitars, jalopy drum machines and found sound effects – easily recreated with backing tapes, but my experience is that approach rarely makes for a compelling or organic live experience. How would this trans-Atlantic pair do it?
Before that question could be answered, we first had to suffer through a set from Brooklyn outfit Telepathe. Now it’s possible there’s something interesting or redeeming in their amalgam of ambient rock, electronica and, um, hip-hop? But it wasn’t on display here – their aimless set garnered an audience response that would have made a golf clap sound like a football riot. What was most galling was how self-conscious and half-hearted their delivery was – with some awkward and indifferent dancing and half-mumbled/whispered vocals, it was like they didn’t think they should have been up there either. One of the more painful half hours I’ve had in recent memory.
But hopefully they’re taking notes on stage presence over the course of this tour because The Kills absolutely drip chemistry and charisma. So much so that you would have expected someone to come out between songs and mop up the floor between Hince and Mosshart. In front of a backdrop with projections of performances from their punk and garage rock forebears, the pair threw down a ferocious set that was loud, filthy and unbelievably sexy. Though he looks more than a little like Rowan Atkinson, Hince on guitar had the sort of presence that could help a guy who looks like Rowan Atkinson land a supermodel girlfriend and Mosshart… well damn – think Karen O’s younger sister who got sent to reform school instead of art school. Whether prowling the stage, molesting the mic stand or pounding the guitar, she was as alluring as she was terrifying. But impossible to take your eyes off of.
Oh, and as for my initial questions about the live setup going into the show? The answer – who gives a damn. Yeah, they used pre-recorded backing tracks but there was nothing remotely stiff or inorganic about the show and anyway, it probably wouldn’t be safe onstage for any additional players, lest they get caught in the electricity between the two principals and spontaneously combust. It affects a dozen people a year but is not widely reported.
Photos: The Kills, Telepathe @ The Opera House – May 6, 2008
MP3: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
MP3: Telepathe – “The March”
Video: The Kills – “Cheap & Cheerful”
Video: The Kills – “U.R.A. Fever”
MySpace: The Kills
Guitar Player considers the six-string virtues of Radiohead’s catalogue, including a rather harsh dismissal of Pablo Honey – the same album that The Riverfront Times feels is deserving of some advocacy. Though my angsty teenage self loved the album back in 1993, I have to admit it hasn’t aged all that well even if you don’t consider the huge leaps in creativity that began with The Bends. But “Anyone Can Play Guitar” will always rule. Back in the present, Pitchfork rounds up the best of the “Nude” remixes while Wired reports on some disgruntlement about how the contest end of it was handled, and a little into the future, Radiohead are at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 15.
Also buffing up a debut to mark an anniversary are former Phair labelmates Mogwai, who are re-releasing Young Team ten years after it was first inflicted on the eardrums of the world. It’s out May 27, and the band been doing the “play the whole record in its entirety” thing of late – maybe that’s what they’ll have in store when they roll into the Phoenix on June 30?
And most exciting and probably the only one of these nostalgia trips I’ll actually be picking up are remasters of the only two My Bloody Valentine albums that matter – Isn’t Anything and Loveless. Pitchfork reports that the former will be re-released in a single disc form and the latter as a double set, one disc remastered from DAT, the other from analogue tape. Obviously an incredibly audio-geek, I’m quite intrigued as to what the differences will be but I’m sure they’ll both be far superior to the current CD pressing – it frankly sounds pretty awful and doesn’t do the record sonic justice. I envision many hours of listening to the same album over and over again when they’re released in the UK on June 16 (and will certainly show up in North American shops immediately after). And I probably won’t get tired of mentioning this anytime soon, but My Bloody Valentine will be in town on September 25 at the Ricoh Coliseum. Ooh, goosebumps.