What’s in a name? If you’re a child and your name is John McTwatface, then it’s a lifetime of abuse and some substantial therapy bills in adult life. If you’re a politician, and it’s Lord Well-Off of Toffsville, then it’s a struggle for a broad groundswell of public approval. And if you’re a band, well, it’s a collective noun for a group of musicians. Isn’t it?
Apparently not anymore. Blame the Sugababes. It’s the only thing to do. Those bastards.
Since they set the number of original members you require in your band to use the same name pretty low – zero, in fact – everyone is at it. So for The Pipettes to reappear with just one of the original three and still claim to be The Pipettes is fine. Reasonable even. But it wasn’t always like this. They didn’t add a ‘featuring The Beatles‘ to Thomas The Tank Engine just because Ringo Starr was in it, did they?
Now two thirds the size of the band they used to be and pitching their shtick at least a decade later than it used to be, you do wonder why they didn’t just make a clean break. But not long into tonight’s gig you realise why they didn’t. The thing which they’ve kept is the thing which previously managed to make The Pipettes so engaging is the sheer giddiness of it all.
This dawns around the time of Call Me, a new(ish) one. It has the same disrespectful attitude to time signatures that Girls Aloud‘s Biology displays, and the same ability to construct a chorus that tattoos itself on your consciousness.
All of which is rather great, as is the following Thank You, which takes the glossy, strutting beat of Bleeding Love and replays it through an analogue heart. If the Xenomanias of this world constructing chart fodder for interchangeable talent show winners are NASA, then this is the equivalent of those bearded folks in sheds, wearing sandals and building home-made rockets to fire into the stratosphere. It’s rough around the edges, but it’s also sort of brilliant, in a charmingly Heath Robinson kind of way.
During the new ones, everything clicks. The dancing seems more synchronised, the vocals sharper, the happiness more readily on display. The old ones are tossed in (Judy, Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me) but they don’t work like they used to.
Still. That may just be a longing for Pipettes now lost. But in spite of that, through all the trials and tribulations, through all the staff changes, there seems to be distinct possibility that The Pipettes have emerged out the other side, curiously but relatively intact.