Live Music + Gig Reviews

Little Joy @ Dingwalls, London

21 January 2009

It must not be easy being a Stroke.

Your leader, and therefore de-facto boss, is prone to spending years and years attempting to recapture your debut spark which caused journalists to critically fellate you for the best part of a decade and fame, fortune and supermodels to fall at your feet.

Leaving you with very little to do. Except count the money. And the models. And let’s face it, that gets so boring so quickly.

Sorry. Must have slipped a contradictory adverb there. Because, let’s fact it, it must bebrilliant being a Stroke. Free time, money and the kind of sexual magnetism which doesn’texist outside of internet spam? Yeah, that must be tough to deal with.

Yet, for whatever reason, they all feel it necessary to wile away the spare hours messing aboutwith side projects, rather than just waiting for Julian to pull his finger out. Nikolai Fraiturehas Nickle-Eye, Albert Hammond Jr has, err, himself, and Fabrizio Moretti has Little Joy… Andyes, fine, for completeness, Nick Valensi has Amanda de Cadenet. But that’s not important rightnow.

There’s usually something a bit weird about the dynamic of these side projects. Something of agoldmine for patrons of bi-polar conflict, as the less well known members pendulum betweenfeeling enormously grateful for this opportunity, and expressing bilious resentment that theyaren’t offered the same levels of recognition/praise as the ‘star’. A case of “I love you. Youfucking famous twat…”.

Confusingly, there’s none of that with Little Joy on stage. Everyone is having fun. It’s all fun.And relaxed. And nice. Christ, it’s almost sickening how nice Fab, Rodrigo and Binky are onstage. Moretti in particular would be the most unimaginably annoying gushing moron if he wasn’tso unbelievably sincere. You’d have thought that you’d just get bored about being told how muchhe “loved us fucking guys”, over and over again, yet somehow you don’t.

It also helps that Little Joy are refreshingly sunny which, on a dingy shitbread of a Januaryevening in a Camden basement, is kind of great. A casual cover of Walkin’ Back To Happiness isjust the right side of jaunty, causing some unexpectedly vociferous pirouetting amongst thecrowd, while Don’t Watch Me Dancing is transformed from the tragic Nico-esque recorded version tosomething happier, yet still beautifully low-key. It’s almost Los Campesinos!-like, if they hadrecently spent some time in Rio, drinking Mai-Tais and beachcombing the Copacabana.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Little Joy. Squint, stop concentrating, and a lot of the timeyou could be watching a ’60s beat-version of Fab’s other band – “It’s hard to explain from thisbeanbag maaaaan” – but since when could that be described as a bad thing? Sometimes a little bitof joy is a hell of a lot better than none.

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Little Joy @ Dingwalls, London
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