Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Pipettes @ KCLSU, London

3 July 2006

Of all the musical revivals currently taking place – be it 70s rock ‘n’ roll, 80s synth pop, mid 90s indie – the most unlikely, it would seem, is the harking back to the all girl group, Spector/Meek produced sound of the 50s and 60s. But it is just this that Brighton’s Pipettes allude to – harmony laden, Ronette/Shangri-La recalling, chorus filled pop songs, that rarely extend beyond two and a half minutes at a time.

Now on the face of it, this may seem vastly unfashionable. I mean, what does a world in 2006 want with such a thing? And isn’t the latest craze to use as many guitars as possible, sing about how shit modern life is, and to look like you’ve just got out of bed, rather than appear on stage in matching polka dotted dresses?

Possibly. But The Pipettes seem to have transcended these institutional barriers, kicking up much fuss with their recorded output to date, and even scraping the top 40 with their last 45, Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me. Their new single, Pull Shapes, is expected to fare better, and their debut LP We Are The Pipettes, along with Alright, Still, the first album from pop darling du jour Lily Allen, is widely forecasted to be the universally accepted soundtrack to those handful of days in the UK where we sit outside and drink Pimms, in the fear that using a hosepipe will land us in some financial strife.

OK – the fact that they’re three obviously attractive young ladies certainly helps, but there’s no doubting the quality of their songs, compositions that are without exception, as catchy as the Kaiser Chiefs would have you believe they are, as danceable as any angular guitar band soundtracking your indie discos and, most importantly, pretty damn good – and precisely why tonight, they found themselves playing in front of a heaving and expectant KCLSU.

Introduced on stage by their four piece backing band, The Cassettes, the three girls – Becki, Gwenno and Rose, unequivocally confirmed these very facts with a sparkling performance. Launching into the irresistibly catchy ABC, replete with their trademark hand movements and silky dance moves, the show was off to a formidable start. And from this point onwards, there was to be no peripheral noise – the crowd were transfixed on the band’s each and every move, applauding each number and any in between song banter with wholehearted commitment.

The whole thing was akin to a great golden oldies CD, with not one song falling into the trap of being not as good as the others – be it the sky-scraping harmonies of Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, the breezy, summery, Sunday afternoon melodies of Because It’s Not Love and Tell Me What You Want, or the sheer power pop brilliance of Dirty Mind and Pull Shapes, there was always much to embrace.

Particularly noticeable was how tight and polished everything appeared, with the songs sounding just as serene, and quite often better, bolder, meatier, than their accompanying recorded versions – this is clearly a band who take their trade very seriously indeed, and aren’t in the business of putting on sloppy shows. But at the same time, on stage, they were all smiles and laughs, never appearing at all earnest about what they were doing, which is remarkably refreshing to see in a world where overly earnest, downtrodden and plodding rock music often reigns supreme (Hello Embrace).

“We are The Pipettes, we’ve got no regrets”, they sang on their last song We Are The Pipettes, which, as time goes on, is a message looking all the more vindicated.

buy The Pipettes MP3s or CDs
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More on The Pipettes
The Pipettes @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Interview: The Pipettes
The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes
The Pipettes @ KCLSU, London