Friday, September 23, 2005

Dolly Daggers, Asylum

21 September 2005

I’m standing around on Charlotte Street, after a underwhelming set from once-were-hopefuls Jade Fox waiting, with no great expectations, a short set from the all-new Daggers and then the welcome embrace of my duvet. From within suddenly I hear the set start, pacey drums, bass and a Rhodes keyboard being played (complete with wah-wah pedal) to sound like an electric guitar. Straight away, and I mean straight away, I rush downstairs into the seedy basement, awoken from ennui by the definite presence of that all too rare musical commodity – Electricity. Ladies and gentlemen, the Dolly Daggers have got something good.

On paper, and for all I know on vinyl as well, a three-piece playing pretty much a London take on the Strokes doesn’t sound spectacular. But take that template, basically fast, up-beat and most importantly short rock’n’roll pop songs, add a dash of the Beach Boys – mostly harmony singing rather than any sunny disposition – and sprinkle in some Bowie and whoever are the latest effeminate stars to borrow his mantle and you still only have half the Daggers’ recipe. To this concoction you have to add tidy musicianship, in writing and playing, great rock riffs, reminiscent thankfully of sixties rock (before they all forgot about the ‘n’roll bit) and effective, confident vocals. Finally, and essentially, zip it up in the blender with Alexis’ drumming, the first drummer I have seen for a long time (Keith Moon springs to mind) who looks like he’s actually trying to smash the drums up with his sticks, at the same time as trying to attain the world record for speed drumming. Then shake vigorously, which is what you’ll be doing when you hear them.

In a room full of musicians, the only noise louder than the band was the sound of a bar being raised. If I had to criticise, when they slowed down for ballads (showing good sense of the need for variety) the paucity of the lyrics showed through a bit. I won’t be asking any of these kids for advice on nothing soon, but if I want to dose up my evening with a jack of 1000 volts, I could look in a lot of worse places. They will be playing Asylum on Wednesday nights regularly and I advise you to get down there soon, before fame ruins them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pride and Prejudice

The new film starring Keira “Twice” Knightley and Matthew “Who?” Macfadyen is played with a straight bat by director Joe Wright, in his debut feature film, the first film adaptation of the novel for 65 years. Although never going surpass the definitive nineties BBC adaptation, the film is a fair, if unadventurous, stab at the classic period romance. The comedy is certainly handled well, a superlative Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennett - apparently her last role before retirement - by far the best thing in it. Anchored by nice parts for Donald Sutherland, seemingly doing his best Michael Gambon impression, and Judi Dench, donning her well-worn regal air as the Duchess, the film proceeds at a brisk pace through the various turmoils and travails, reaching its destination with a certain inevitability, rather like a train pulling into a station.

I did wonder if I was being churlish, however, in sensing a definite lack at the centre of things; while Knightley is good at the comedy, the forthrightness and the being pretty aspects of the part there is an unfortunate sense that she doesn’t actually fancy Mr Darcy very much at all. At times, as they to-and-fro between despising and adoring each other, you find yourself wondering what she actually sees in him, a fairly major fault in such a definitive romance. Macfadyen, though he handles the acting requirements well enough, just doesn’t seem to have it in him to make her swoon. Very rarely do they occupy they same screen and I wondered whether when they filmed her doing sultry, they didn't have to stick a cardboard cut-out of someone else in front of her.