Live Music + Gig Reviews

We Are Scientists + Hot Club De Paris @ Brixton Academy, London

9 November 2006

Americans with not only a sense of humour but asense of irony, no less. What more reason do you needto catch the sublime We Are Scientists live show?

Hot Club de Paris warm up the crowd nicely enoughwith their bass-heavy, indie rock. In any other venuethey’d be a bright light on the leftfield but againstthe Californian insanity to come, they just look likeanother identikit band of dour northerners filling thetime until the main event.

Call We Are Scientists a novelty act and you mightnot be wrong, but there’s a lot more to them thanamusing facial hair, lab coats and silly glasses. Ifyou haven’t already signed up to their fan club it maybe because most of this comes over much more stronglyin their live act than it does on record – from thechutzpah of coming onstage by segueing into the PAsystem’s Against All Odds (yes, the PhilCollins one) to the unrelenting banter betweenfrontman Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain, WAS canput on a stage show to rival Kylie. Not bad forthree blokes who look like the kind of nerds mostindie kids who are too cool to be bullies have spenttheir lives desperately trying to ignore.

Whether you like their music or not, WAS are greatfun live. They bicker like schoolboys, make rude jokesto the audience, argue about the merits of glitterysilver hats and plough through a storming setconsisting of their album With Love And Squalor in itsentirety, sprinkled with a smattering of what you’llget on their DVD, B-sides and rarities collection CrapAttack. There’s also a new song, Tonight Tonight, andthe so-far-unreleased Best Behaviour.

Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt is as great asing-along moshpit favourite as ever and The GreatEscape is given a boost (not that it needs one) byhelp from Editors guitarist Chris Urbanowicz.

For a band that’s at such an early stage of itscareer, this is a fantastically accomplished set. Itsonly downside, you may think, is that playingeverything they have leaves no room for an encore.You’d be wrong, because if you’ve got thetongue-in-cheek genius of We Are Scientists behindyou, when you’ve exhausted everything you have, you’lljust dig into the Oxfam bargain bin and pull out thefirst embarrassing decade-old school disco tune youcan find and reinvent it to round off the evening.

And so WAS are back, handing lead vocals over todrummer Michael Tapper as they once again croon overthe backing tapes, this time to the Boyz II Menhit End Of The Road for a triumphant farewell.Urbanowicz and Hot Club de Paris join them for thefinal bow as the audience sways its arms in unison andsings along enthusiastically to a song the Brixtonfaithful would never dare admit to liking outside ofthe confines of this inner sanctum. It’s fun and it’sfresh. Even if you don’t think you’re a fan, catchthem live once, just for the hell of it.

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