Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not so much lice in the locks of literature, more leeches on the arse of Man Rock

I went to see Justin Hawkins' new band Hot Leg at Cabaret Voltaire in Edinburgh a couple of weeks back, and very enjoyable they were too. Before I got round to penning a review, however, I read this one by Barry Gordon in the Scotsman which so incensed me that I wrote a response. You can read it under the review in the Scotsman, but here it is anyway:

I'm not spotty, haven't been a teenager since 1975 and wasn't wearing a black t-shirt, but I was at the Hot Leg gig, which I find difficult to recognise from your review, perhaps because you stayed up at the back where the bar was rather than downstairs with the marine mammals (personally I resemble a manatee more than a seal) in the audience. It does seem that you could have written your review without bothering to turn up at all. "Dumb song titles" - OK, so you don't like Hawkins's lyrics. "Dumb guitar riffs" - so you don't like their musical style either. "The Darkness Part II" - only to the extent that they are a band containing Justin Hawkins. Gone are all the stage gimmicks (heck, at Cabaret Voltaire there's barely a stage). Gone are the catsuits. The guitarists had (I think) two guitars each rather than the dozens normally affected by axe-wielding megastars, while I've seen high school bands with as much amplification. The closest the evening came to a "Darkness moment" was clearly a deliberate reference, and a self-deprecating one at that. If you ever actually saw The Darkness you will know that at some point in the show Hawkins would mount onto a kind of monorail car shaped variously as a tiger or a gigantic pair of breasts, and would circle over the audience's heads while singing and playing. Hard to do that in a tiny underground venue, but Hawkins got a roadie to hoist him onto his shoulders for a quick lap (admitting afterwards the ceiling had been lower than he'd thought). I thought that was pretty funny, myself.

The reason only 250 or so people turned up rather than thousands was that rather than playing the SECC they were playing Cabaret Voltaire, which they sold out. (Bill Wyman doesn't get audiences of thousands nowadays either, but that's because the Rhythm Kings play the Queen's Hall not Murrayfield.) To imply, as you do, that it was a result of audience apathy rather than of the size of venue tells us all we need to know about your journalistic talent.

As you had clearly decided to hate the gig before you went, I suppose one shouldn't expect you to have mentioned that the standard of playing and singing (making allowances for the falsetto) were very high. Hot Leg are a very tight little outfit, even if Hawkins no longer wears one. Nor that, to my surprise at least, they didn't do a single Darkness number all evening. Darkness Mark II: aye, right.

And while stadium-filling megastars come back for their encores in powder-blue catsuits or the like, Hawkins returned to his tiny hot stage in best pub-rocker manner, in a pair of comfy tennis shorts. As to their Bjorn Borg-ness, I find myself in awe of your ability to discriminate between a pair of Borgs and a pair of Agassis or Rafters at your distance from the stage. Do you, perhaps, usually report on sporting events rather than musical ones? That would explain a lot.

One final observation: if Hot Leg are so boring and such an irrelevance, why did The Scotsman send not one but two dodgy journos (yourself and David Pollock) to turn out hatchet jobs on the same gig?

And here is that other review, if one can even call it that. "Writing swear words on school text books" seems to be about the level these giants of journalism managed to achieve while knocking back their expense-account booze and sniggering to themselves about the "spotty" hoi-polloi who were not only actually watching the band but had paid to do so.

Incidentally, since neither of these yokels is up to doing his job, it falls to me to tell you that the support for Hot Leg were The Crave, who are a very decent band from Brighton with a sound more retro and less rock & roll than Hot Leg. Worth looking out for in the future.

The Scotsman: definitely not where you go for intelligent gig reviews.

Here, meanwhile, are Hot Leg doing Cocktails:


At 24 March, 2009 21:40, Anonymous elusive said...

Well done, you. I read the "other" review and thought exactly the same. And I actually thought David Pollock's surname must be a misprint...


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