Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Mae Shi + Rolo Tomassi + PRE @ Bardens Boudoir, London

22 January 2008

This night in East London’s most favoured basement Bardens is heaving. Having fully gotten rid of post-festivities gloom, the indie kids are back for one of the first intriguing bills of 2008.

PRE deliver their most promising performance this reviewer has witnessed. Having previously relied on gimmick or onstage frolics (a recent gig involved singer Akiko continually falling over the drum kit behind her, much to the evident annoyance of the drummer), their sound has tightened. They now possess a body of memorable tunes, previously lacking from the Pre live experience.

Rolo Tomassi, a hot tip from just about everyone in 2008, follow quickly after. Where PRE succeed in effective song structure, Rolo Tomassi colossally fail at. Eva Spence’s vocals are, at best, striking. But their songs are so derivative and monotonous that their apparent imminent popularity is nothing short of baffling.

One could argue that bands never give enough of a spectacle when appearing onstage these days. So is an array of fairy lights, multiple costume changes and massive smiles enough for you? For this is what The Mae Shi deliver. Performing their first ever gig in the capital, the Californian four-piece, signed to the cult Kill Rock Stars label, are an utter joy to watch straight from the start.

What starts as an a cappella, euphoric introduction with a refrain of “I want almost everything,” fades in to a short set spanning their career thus far, from more raw outings from their early work through to radio-friendly pop gems, best demonstrated in a devastatingly good Run To Your Grave.

What also sets the band apart is their sincerity and enthusiasm when performing. The swapping of instruments, the constant movement onstage and their merchandise that they model this evening, bearing the slogan “I’m Glad You’re Still Alive”.

Those who witness any of the band’s bafflingly vast selection of London dates over the next fortnight will be left feeling the same way.

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