Noir he may be, but in name only. Jim may have recently claimed that his album Tower Of Love ‘was not all happy biscuits’, but you’d have to look pretty hard to spot any stray crumbs of fatalism jutting through those airy harmonies. Lets face it, Raymond Chandler he ain’t.
Joining his five-piece band onstage with a certain pierside insouciance, the svelte Noir has the cajoling disposition of a talent show chancer. With the chummy atmosphere of a Uni bar, London’s Spitz is tailor-made for Noir’s crew of long-hairs and fab fringes, the between-song banter capturing a touch of campus bonhomie. The Indie barometer may be reading high, but its knocked into relief by a decidedly northern knockabout jocularity. Half Morrissey, half Tarby. But in a good way.
Noir may not be heralding a new musical dawn, but the vital ingredients of classic harmonised white pop are delivered with the self-assurance of a pro. Like a few other famed Mancunians of the last 25 years or so, Noir manages to spur once tired forms into fresh action through idiosyncratic perspective.
On record, Noir performs and muti-tracks all contributions himself, but live hasn’t introduced any limitations to Noirish sensibilities. But rather than concentrating on reproducing those off-kilter Californian interludes, Noir just wants to rock.
Well, alright, not really. But there’s a definite concession to getting all assembled to move their pints about a bit. Opener Tell Me What To Do has an almost freakbeat tempo, and Watch With Mother specialities like Eanie Meany and I Me You I’m Your are proved to be just as much fun with five pairs of hands as one. How about that, children?
The underground buzz of Noir’s two EP’s are reflected in the affirmative nods that greet each meticulously constructed whimsy. My Computer – Noir’s admirable displacement of one of pop’s favourite objects of desire and dislocation into everyday humbug already has the head-nodding familiarity of a fan fave. However, full fathom fervour is reserved for canny closer My Patch, where seemingly all gathered break into spontaneous sing along. I think that’s what they used to call passing the old grey whistle test.
Tower of Love’s wonder-full high-point, The Only Way may lose its twilight wistfulness, but gains a muscular urgency through John Squire-like ringing phrases courtesy of the lead guitarist. Though all seemingly capable of zoning in on Noir’s barbershop chiming, all of the band remained unnamed and anonymous.
There’s two theories to solving this noir-like mystery. The presence of TV’s (sic) John Gorman in the audience was noticed by many (well, me certainly). Theory One suggests that, in the tradition of his show, the band were aghast with Gorman nomenclature, and remained schtum under contract for the purpose of the next series.
Theory Two has it that they are all secret Noirs, and singing in the key of Wilson is a family trait. It’s truth, Jim, but not as we know it.