Mojave3 - Camden Lock
Oh dear, it’s a full crowd tonight and the bar staff are in serious trouble. There’s a foul and sweating mob, all pushing and shoving for beer, and violence is not far off. As if to prove this, a little scuffle breaks out over a wine bottle and the girl behind the bar looks terrified. It’s more of a comedy scuffle, though, and the Bill Bailey look-alike who started it all soon disappears into the sea of people, taking his rotten wine with him, tucked under his arm like a baby. It really is chaos here, and no-one in their right mind would attempt a second drink. Which is a pity, because Mojave 3 are a band which sound best whilst ever-so-slightly tipsy.
If the view from the bar is ugly, the vibe by the stage is really beautiful, man. A complete contrast to the scuffles and general rowdiness at the back of the room, the crowd wait patiently to be entertained by the musical delights of Mojave 3. Here in London for the first time in four years to support the release of fourth album ‘Spoon and Rafter’, reviewed here, these gentle rockers are playing to a converted crowd.
Mojave 3, as you might or might not know, are formed around the nucleus of Neil Halstead (vocals and main songwriter) and Rachel Goswell (bass/vocals) who were once in Slowdive, minor legends of Thames Valley. They've been gigging and releasing albums since 1995 to critical indifference as the country, or to put it more correctly, the country's media, seemed in awe of the hollow shell of shit that was 'Britpop'. Once again, their timing is out, as we are all now supposed to be enthralled by the latest fashionable Television/Stooges clones from New York. No names, but you know probably who they are this week. All of which makes no difference to the mass of people here tonight; it's pretty clear Mojave 3 have a loyal fanbase despite being about as fashionable as a mullet. Perhaps they just read the wrong magazines.
It’s difficult to decide what to make of Mojave 3` though. You couldn’t really pigeon hole them as any one thing, and this is good. There are country influences in there, some psychedelic rock, some heavy rock and some lilting guitars and some quite beautiful and haunting vocals. You can quite easily imagine them going down a storm on American College campuses. Opener, 'Bluebird of Happiness', highlights many of their strong points, combining haunting vocals and lush harmonies. And its a good indication of things to come.
Mojave 3 are a nice band, and that's meant as a compliment, not a dig. The crowd here is ecstatic to see them, and they are a phenomenal live band, Tight as anything and really enjoying themselves. The sound is good, the atmosphere (by the stage at least) is warm and the songs come thick and fast. Perhaps the one thing that rises them above the average band, in a live setting at least, is the manic beats provided by the drummer, Ian MucCutcheon. He really holds the band together. The melodies are light, and the chords rather fluffy, but at the heart of it all is a satanic rhythm section that pierces the brain and a passion that you would never, ever get from a machine.
There's even a moment of small comedy at the end. Never wear a hat to a gig. Someone did not take heed of this basic piece of common sense (it's inconsiderate to those behind you for a start) and someone grabbed it from him and threw it on stage. There follwed a light carry-on style scramble behind the drumkit as the hatless wonder searched for the missing head gear, much to Ian MucCutcheon's bemusement.
Mojave 3 are worth seeing if you can. Mellow rock never sounded quite so nice.