We need the Shepherd’s Bush Empire tonight. Why? Certain bands need acertain type of venue to broadcast in a way befitting of their ability.Corinne Bailey Rae has got it tonight so I won’t argue with that, buttonight’s bands do suffer nonetheless.
Leeds quartet This Et Al are being heavily tipped for greatness but youwouldn’t think so tonight. Frontman Wu Et Al (don’t ask) and drummer SteveEt Al (you can see where this is going) are sporting red shirts and blackties while Gav and Ben sport the reverse. Wu looks quite a state, sweaty andperhaps a little inebriated. Their druggy punk sounds abrasive and isdelivered with like an open can of nerves, far flung from their swaggery,cocksure studio material. Still, the likes of Sabbatical and the JoyDivision-esque Wardens eventually warm the room.
There is always a wonderfully DIY moment in the build up to a PrettyGirls Make Graves gig where they look at each other half confused as ifwondering when to start or what to do next. They do exactly the sametonight, having been preceded by an extra dramatic twist in the A ClockworkOrange theme playing as their intro tape. There is nothing menacing aboutthe band tonight.
They shift from benign to hearty to intense in the space of a couple ofverses. With lan Vital barely a day old in Europe they proudly plough intothe hedonistic Nocturnal House . Surprisingly, the new material is reservedto a modest minimum. Much of the evening draws from the New Romance, thetitle track dropped very early on along with a hymnal This Is OurEmergency.
New keyboardist Leona Marrs has already won herself a male fan club withher striking looks. The accordion, keyboards, maracas and recorder all addmore balance to the band live, as well as in studio. Her cohort Andrea Zollois the usual whirlwind of enchantment and energy, fist ever clenched andever raised, jet black hair a drenched mess masking her face.
Jaws dropped with the presence of two drum kits onstage. To somedisappointment it was only utilised for Parade where Jay Clark put down hisguitar for a complimentary part to Nick Dewitt, who in turn dropped hissticks and assumed bass duty for Pictures of A Night Scene. With DerekFudesco on lead, the big man for once restrained himself from his hulkingcontortions and turned in an atmospheric duet with Zollo.
In a venue with acoustics far more suited to the sounds of glass, guitarsand gobbing, PGMG were doomed by their own big sound. One gets the feelinghowever, it might be just big enough to get them out of these sorts of places thistime round.