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Viv Albertine Rough Trade East, London
Article written by
Ged M - Nov 29, 2012
The first thing you notice is that Viv Albertine has good genes. We’re used to seeing nostalgia-punk programming on BBC4 and muttering “doesn’t Lydon/ Cook/ Levine look old now?” to ourselves but, even more than Captain Sensible, Viv Albertine appears in fantastic shape. She's even sporting Vivienne Westwood boots that Vivienne forced her to buy in the mid-70s from her and McLaren's Sex shop. If there’s history on her feet, Viv is well-preserved history too, guitarist for one of the key bands that influenced so many female and male artists since the early 80s.
Live, she’s spiky and funny, with a wealth of stories that bode well for her forthcoming book. She surrounds herself with a fascinating collection of people, featuring an actor and music software designer, a violin virtuoso and a percussionist; this seems to be a feature of her return to music, collecting all sorts of musicians Pied Piper fashion. The raw, confessional nature of her songs almost gets the better of her on ‘In Vitro’, where the emotional nature of the subject matter (IVC and heroin) is made clearer after her harrowing introduction. She doesn’t have bassist Norman Watt-Roy to drive along ‘I Want More’ but she manages to make it relentlessly rhythmic, while her ‘Confessions of a MILF’ is subversively funny. It’s a short but inspirational set; looking round the room there are all sorts of men and women, people who remembered the Slits (mostly older men), people who found and were inspired by the Slits (mostly younger women), and people who just get excited by the English urban folk tales on Viv’s album (all of us). Welcome back.