Live Reviews

Electric Six @ Forum, London

21 August 2003


Some bloke from Warwickshire once wrote that some are born to greatness, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Surely, no better dictum can be followed when assessing the mirror-ball facets of the Top 40, where talent is no guarantee of commercial success, and limited ability can be shaped and moulded into something so wondrous as to obfuscate any genuine deficiencies in the creative department of the performers concerned.

In the case of Electric Six, something close to greatness was bestowed by the elusive muse on them in the form of two deliciously voguish punk/funk singles, Danger! Danger! High Voltage!, and with a song title that surely would never have charted ten years ago, namely Gay Bar.

The now legendary Too Many DJ’s mix-and-match CD gave many the first exposure to the manic exhortation of ‘Danger! Danger! High Voltage!’ when the band were still known on these shores as The Wild Bunch. After significant airplay and heavy rotation on MTV, the B-52’s-style intro riff of Gay Bar hit the Top 10 to make it two-out-of-two mutant disco hits for the contradictory five-piece. Naturally enough, it’s the two-hit salvo that the beery audience at The Forum are patiently waiting for when singer Dick Valentine’s quintet eventually take the stage, and prepare to rock. In dinner jackets no less.

Judging by the grin on Valentine’s face, there’s a clear thrill to bellow Naked Pictures Of Your Mother at a captive audience, and with other songs with similar daft funk declarations such as She’s White and I’m The Bomb, its apparent we’re all invited in on the joke. Electric 6 are a band who are aware of their own ridiculousness, perhaps unlikely to be writing songs called things like Millbank, or If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next. It’s a refreshing approach, but one that in excelsis can become as tired as Frank Carson reminding us all that its the way he tells ’em.

What’s more disappointing as the show progresses is the reliance on gee-tar histrionics, not a million light-chords away from the likes of Saxon or Judas Priest. Although its all meant in the best possible taste, the band are expected to deliver TUNES , and only numbers that steer clear from an over-reliance on the soloing , such as Improper Dancing and She’s White strike sing-along gold, tellingly hovering closer to the electro-rock template of the singles.

Electric Six’s current non-stop road trip also has everyone anticipating the encore of Radio Ga-Ga, and join in the double-handclaps from that famous Queen vid, so reminiscent of a Nuremberg rally. Despite waiting some time for the band to hit stage-side, the show ends too quickly. Earlier this year, two of the original members left the band, and perhaps its too early to have broken in any new material for any follow-up to the Fire album, but the performance time still clocked in under an hour.

Still, you’ve got to admire a band who’s singer ends the gig clad in nothing but a pair of striped boxer shorts, looking like a schoolboy debagged on his way to the headmaster’s office. Some are born to greatness, and others just have great pants thrust upon them.


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