(review n pix neil crud)
MASE, Llandudno Conference Centre
MASE is music’s equivalent of a soccer team’s Youth Academy. They’ll sign on hundreds of kids but only the best will come through. In 50 years time the majority of these performers at these monthly events will bounce their grandchildren on their knee, give them a Websters Toffee Cream & tell ‘em of the time they played in a punk rock band in front of 300 people. Some may even go further & release a CD, hey even my Dad got signed in Sixties (check the Executioners on the site), but for most the time is now & it is here. Take Polythene for example, you’ve probably never heard of them & probably never will again, but who cares, for just one moment they caught me. It was during their cover of that Hives single, for that brief moment in time, they had it, they grasped the stinging nettle, it was today, the ‘now’ & this is what you wanted & this is what you got. It may well be their 15 minutes of fame, & if it was, I hope they enjoyed it; I certainly did.
I’ve dissed many bands for doing the repertoire of covers, you can go to any seaside campsite in the summer & hear the same sort of thing; it’s live karaoke & needless at venues. BUT I only spit at bands who should know better & Polythene are excused for the simple reason; you have to start somewhere & then start building original songs into your set. It’s bands who’ve been around a while or have the undoubted talent that really piss me off in these circumstances, relying on other people’s music to boost their own egos rather than their own art.
Enter Abandon Hope. I took some shit for having a go at them last time I saw them & they proved me right again this time. Their only self written song in a sea of covers was on a par with what they copied, add another 5 or 6 into the set & North Wales has a very seriously good band in its midst, I really really hope they write more of their own stuff, otherwise it’s £200 a night between you on the camps in Kinmel Bay each summer.
errm…Before AH, Anonymity (left) broke out of the shadows with an almost Roy Orbison soundalike frontman (that was a compliment bye the way) backed by a simple, but very effective drum beat & chord progression. Almost a 60’s beat combo feel to it. Nice Soft Cell cover, but perhaps the name should’ve been Unanimated instead! A live performance should be visual as well as aural, take a leaf out of Die Kast Messiah’s handbook.
Beth is the babe with the acoustic guitar who never runs out of songs, calms everyone down for a bit & has the nous to sell CDs.
When a band look nervously at each other during their set you know it’s their 1st live performance, as Bran on guitar glanced over to his Strokes-u-like singer & Unsure (pic top of page) opened up with a couple of Ramones covers. The self written song was of particular interest to me; original material thin on the ground tonight (except Beth), so remembering these songs wasn’t too difficult. The 1st band I was in (Racket) when I was 13 had a song called Skool Is A Drag (it was in 4Q’s live set in 1988), it was written about our own experiences in a search for things to write about. Unsure’s songs Teachers Mad At Me (or whatever) is admittedly a lot better than my own attempt & it does show you that when these young bands try for originality they do come up with the goods, the line: ‘I prostitute myself until I can’t be free,’ is a gem. Unsure will leave the stage & over the next week or so take stock of what they did, where they went wrong & where they can improve, they’ll then be itching to play again.
Likewise for Convoy who were pretty much the same only more painful. The Arsenal shirt didn’t help! But the bassist dressed like an extra out of the film Flashdance more than made up for it. Convoy, as with the other bands may well read this & think of me as a twat, if they go back to rehearsals & start working of their own stuff to prove me wrong then it looks like the twat is doing is job.