The Horrors / The Black Belles / Clout Southend, Chinnery's
Article written by
Peter W - May 23, 2012
When Jack Daniels were planning this JD Roots campaign (get a well-known band to play a small gig in their hometown), The Horrors would’ve thrown up a choice of Southend or Bexley – while the latter is known for its mildly threatening pubs and a freight train derailment (no fatalities), Southend at least has a venue called Chinnery’s to counter its equally threatening boozers on its rather dilapidated seafront.
This murky, 400-odd capacity room is ideal for the five-piece’s “homecoming”.
The night begins with another local band, Clout, who specialise in collage-rock and gloomy electronics. For the most part their songs are a patchwork of ideas that somehow manage to hold together very effectively; be it a droning saxophone deployed over a laptop bleep, an unexpected burst of jangly guitar, or a Micachu guest spot, there’s always something happening worth your interest.
Next up are The Black Belles – the “Garage Goth” female quartet signed to Jack White’s Third Man Records and currently dressed to do battle with any Witchfinder General in town (well, kind of). Tonight they’ve been reduced to a three-piece (keyboard player is missing) and from the start they seem to struggle with this new set-up; more than once there are confused looks, missed cues and false starts. Technical problems certainly play their part too with singer Olivia Jean complaining she can’t hear her bandmates although by that point she’s already pinned the blame on booze (twice). Still, who cares? The punchy tunes contain enough rock n roll fun regardless and Jean’s guitar blues are as catchy as they are deafening, and a thunderous Shelby Lynne provides the best drumming performance of the night.
On May 25th, The Horrors will play a headline show at Brixton Academy - Chinnery’s is one-tenth the size of that South London giant – ten seconds into tonight’s performance it’s clear they don’t intend to adjust the volume & lighting accordingly. ‘Who Can Say’ has Joshua Hayward’s guitar drowning out all competing instruments, the only respite from the white noise being the spoken-word interlude, while ‘I Can See Through You’ sounds fantastic yet, ironically, becomes a listen-only exercise as the room’s lit up like the surface of the sun. These are not complaints; on the contrary, it’s an enthralling assault on both the eardrums and eyeballs.
After touring their 3rd album for almost a year, the band have unsurprisingly mastered these mostly-epic tunes for their live shows and ‘Endless Blue’ in particular, with its sudden shift from cool, drifting synths to frenetic guitar rock simply oozes confidence tonight. The set’s high point arrives just before the encore; first up is the monolithic ‘Sea within a Sea’ in which a wide-eyed & motionless Faris is able to get his breath back while the coda soars in all its krautrock glory, and then comes the icy cool ‘Still Life’- the finest, unadulterated pop song in the band’s back catalogue - if you ever needed two tunes to sum up The Horrors you needn’t look any further (unfairly neglected debut album notwithstanding).