The Violets / Renton / Two Tears - Buffalo Bar
Two Tears seem a little perturbed by the lack of reaction from the crowd. It's a radical suggestion, but maybe the polite applause and empty front means that we simply don't like them very much. However, it's far more likely to be that we simply don't know enough about them because the set they deliver is phenomenally good. Kerry Davis, on vocals and guitar, has the voice of a dark angel, the bastard child of Chrissie Hynde and Mick Jagger, she oozes smoky charm as she tears her way through the songs and the band is smart enough to realize she's their prime asset. The songs are stripped down and bare, allowing her vocals to punch through the holes that lesser bands would leave like bullets made of glass. Songs like 'Wiggle Like A Worm' are loaded with swagger and attitude, with the muddy guitar chords progressing intelligently and openly. They're very Stones-ey, but in a good way, as though they've understood that the spirit of the music lies in something intangible and spiritual, rather than simply ripping off the chords. Dark and brooding, Two Tears are magnificent. Last song, Ghost Train, written about Princess Di of all people, was dedicated to John Peel. (Website here.)
Any mention of John Peel tonight brought a cheer from the crowd. Or at least it did until Renton slightly overused it. Never mind, lads, I'm sure the thought was there. There's nothing wrong with Renton, but following something like Two Tears is never easy and Renton's sledgehammer approach seemed out of place compared with the rough delicacy of the opening band. With a sound as subtle as a train crash, Renton rush through a set consisting of explosive power chords and barking, violent vocals. They're charismatic and have a naive charm, but seem to lack the vital ingredients that would enable them to shine tonight. (Renton's website can be found here.
Whereas The Violets have no such trouble and shine like a threesome of crazy diamonds. There's something quite lovely and hypnotizing about The Violets. Maybe it's the lovely, squelchy guitar sound; angular yet totally flowing, or maybe it's simply Alexis’ loaded, 80's pop-style vocals but whatever it is, the set doesn't seem quite long enough to do them justice. They're a total unit, a machine that exudes rock 'n' roll charm and charisma, Alexis staggering about like a bruised flower yet capable of lifting the feel with a simple vocal octave shift. Her vocal style falls somewhere between Siouxsie Sue and Hazel O'Conner, but always more than a sum of those parts, with her own cut glass styling. Sometimes the sound grates like a wound and other times it soothes but always compelling and always mesmerizing. Watch out for these, they can and will blow you away. See the website here
Free entry can be obtained to all Artrocker gigs that happen on a Tuesday at the Buffalo Bar simply by visiting the Artrocker website and registering as a member. It’s easier than falling off a log and completely free.