Sunday 25 February 2007

didn't you see this once sometime last week?

The Long Blondes @ Nottingham Rock City, 24 February 2007

Rock City gigs on a Saturday are always a bit weird. The demands of "Love Shack" mean that all bands have to be off stage sometime around 10pm and are therefore usually onstage at the oddly early time of 8.30.

Rock and Roll!

I first fell foul of this last summer when I casually turned up at about 21:30 only to realise that I had missed about half of the set by the Futureheads. I was not amused. I'm wiser nowadays though. If I have tickets to a gig on a Saturday, I will generally ring the venue to find out what time the headline band are taking to the stage. As the Long Blondes have only done the one album, tonight the critical time was 9pm... and in spite of my late arrival at the curry house (I blame England's dismal thrashing at Croke Park), Sarah and I made it to Rock City comfortably in time to get a drink and to settle down in front of the mixing desk before the band took to the stage.

I don't really know much about the Long Blondes, except that they were very much the darlings of the indie press for a while. Their debut album came out at some point towards the end of last year, and I picked it up in January. I like them. Kate Jackson, the singer, has got a sparky voice and the singles are all really good.

The band took to the stage a little after 9pm and promptly played almost all of those singles in one go. With barely a pause for breath we had 'Once and Never Again', 'Weekend Without Makeup' and 'Lust In the Movies'. Good songs all, but it did have me worrying about what the hell they were going to do for the next 45 minutes. In a way, I was right. Until they played 'Giddy Stratospheres' just before they left the stage before the encore, all of their other material was fairly forgettable. They are however something of an arresting visual spectacle. Well, I say "they", but what I really mean is that Kate Jackson is an arresting visual spectacle. If anyone was born to be a frontman (front person?), then she was. She's only a wee slip of a lass, but she absolutely dominates the stage. She's the best thing about the Long Blondes by a country mile, and tonight, wearing some sort of Dita von Teese-type shorts and a basque, she commands you to look at her. The rest of the band oblige this even further by being almost completely forgettable. Here are the things that I can remember about the rest of the band:
-> the drummer wore glasses
-> the bassist and the second guitarist were women
-> the lead guitarist was left-handed and played his guitar upside-down with the strings laid out for a right-hander (like Hendrix)

That's literally it. The rest was all about Kate Jackson.

Rock City wasn't sold out by any means, but the mixed crowd (with ages ranging from 14 to about 40) lapped it up. I wouldn't say that they were rapturously received by any means, but they were certainly afforded a warm response by an enthusiastic crowd.

So.... pretty good. Have I damned them with faint praise? I think I have.



  1. I resisted this lot for a long time because RH insisted I would love them and I like to prove him wrong. Also he really fancies Kate Jackson. He's usually right though and Someone To Drive You Home was one of my favourite albums of last year. They played here a few months back and I was too bloody minded to go. Oh well.

  2. "Have I damned them with faint praise?" Yup - they're better than this. For me, Someone To Drive You Home is one of those albums on which nearly every song could conceivably be released as a single.

    But yes, Kate Jackson is, er, something of a focal point live. Even Mike Troubled Diva found himself completely under her spell...

  3. I wonder whether Kate Jackson was referring to one of (or even both) the couples in the band when she commented that there was " a lot of heartbreak in the ranks". It may be the way she introduces 'Once and never again' every time - or it might just explain the attitude of other members of the band (if they're not usually like that?).

  4. I like the album Ben, I just thought that the set drifted in the middle on Saturday night. Kate Jackson was indeed watcheable throughout, but the rest of the band gave off very little.

    I'm as surprised as anyone that I preferred Keane's set on Sunday night.


  5. I saw The Long Blondes in Bristol a while back and liked them. Weekend Without Make-up is such a good song!

  6. I'm with Ben on this... but I haven't had the pleasure of seeing them live yet. Been listening to them for about 18 months though... I'm so damn slow sometimes.