These days it’s a crime most heinous to be making headlines before you actually manage to do any headlining. Particularly when the offence is committed by a band with what could be described as a strong appreciation of the visual aspects of their craft. A crime then, that The Horrors have committed with giddy abandon, in a storm of winklepickers and drainpipes.
“Grumble, grumble, grumble,” go the beard-stroking indie snobs; muttering something about style, substance and one over ‘tuther. And they grasp their copies of the latest Razorlight album, and their pints of warm bitter, and they frantically scratch their facial hair, and they miss out. Don’t they remember what St. Strummer of Joesville said about trousers and brains? Haven’t they seen The Horrors’ trousers? Don’t they understand what that might mean about their brains?
Oh, there’s something evil lurking in there. Something with a shit-eating grin, gleefully surveying the destruction that they’re creating. Something that has been sadly lacking recently. Something which makes The Horrors flooringly exciting, and wonderfully divisive.
The opening Jack The Ripper is a strobe lit fairground ride through an electrical storm, frontman Faris Rotter stalking the stage, muttering and screaming like Edgar Allen Poe has stolen his marbles while merry hell is unleashed by the kohl-eyed mob surrounding him.
Before anyone can draw breath, they strike again, crashing into Count In Fives; slightly less aural GBH and slightly more of a song: rampant, violent and bounding at the edge of madness. It’s all too much for the barriers – and you can understand why – forcing the bouncers into taking bracing action. While they’re successful at settling the crowd down slightly, it seems to have the untoward effect of calming the band too. And it’s at these points that things dip. A bit.
But when they blitz through Sheena Is A Parasite, the place (re)explodes in a shower of JD and coke. Then when an apologetic Faris asks us to forgo his normal encore of getting up close and personal with the crowd for another song (a paint-stripping trawl through a swampy Crawdaddy Simone), this gloriously macabre blend of garage rock and theatrical gothic Victoriana seems exactly like the world needs.
In less than thirty minutes, it’s over. Job done, point proven, any stray beard-strokers scared half to death. Maybe it won’t last long for The Horrors -a world becoming ever more polarised between those who get them and those who don’t, and a show which seems primed on the edge of implosion are hardly the most solid of foundations, even if they do add an inordinate level of excitement to the whole shebang. Hype be damned; at the moment there are few more viscerally exhilarating live acts around.