Live Music + Gig Reviews

Aereogramme + Dirt Magic + Thomson @ Monarch, London

4 June 2002



I’m late. I’ve been running through the gobbing rain and I’m completely soaked. So to finally get my arse into the dry and intimate surroundings of the Monarch is wonderful. It’s only 8.45 and, bizarrely, it’s already packed. This is almost unprecedented for so early on a Wednesday night. And all these people are here for a support act; Thomson. They’re half way through a song when I drag myself in. It sounds suspiciously like The Rembrandts. Remember them? They were the heathen bastards who did made that “catchy” Friends theme tune. Catchy. Like herpes.

The first thing I notice from these Hives labelmates is everyone’s in uniform. Cashing in on their more successful playmates or loving the look? They sport green army jackets with the Thomson insignia on shoulders or backs. It looks the Yen sign without the Y at the top. They sound like Dad Rock, that irritating middle-class warbling a la Stereophonics. Almost completely unadulterated Dad Rock. The third from last song sounds like a Kelly Jones / Bruce Springsteen collaboration, as bad as that sounds. There is, on the other hand, one song that saves their proverbial bacon. The second to last is a great Rolling Stones bluesy rock ‘n’ roll number with lovely harmonised vocals from the two lead singers and very pretty melodic guitar. Nice.

Dirt Magic follow this emotional wallowing with a sound we’ve heard a thousand times before. Unfortunately, it was better the first thousand. The lead singer is an extremely shaggable PJ Harvey lookalike, but you can see the pleading in her eyes. Pleading to be… PJ Harvey. Sorry luv, it’s not gonna happen. Each song is virtually indistinguishable from the last and is far from anything original. Harsh riffs and crashing symbols abound, but for the life of me I can’t remember a single lyric or song title that caught my attention.

And so we get to saving grace with Aereogramme. These teamsters are perfect for a depressing summer’s evening in the garden, watching the sun godown and lamenting over memories. Their lilting Beta Band-esque guitars drift over you while a darker undercurrent pervades throughout via Radiohead licks. Each songs wanders into the next and the band don’t really bother introducing them so the effect is one of prolonged beautiful anguish.

So I end the night with a comfortable depression and the smell of wet leaves all around me from everyone who got caught in the shower. So I leave with Aereogramme, still playing in my head.

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More on Aereogramme
Aereogramme – Seclusion
Aereogramme + Dirt Magic + Thomson @ Monarch, London