Lola Colt – live review

Lola Colt at Shoreditch Underbelly, London
Friday, May 13 2011

Reviewed by Jeremy Allen.

Without Galileo and Copernicus the world would still be flat and at the centre of the universe. History is littered with irrefutable absolutes that look foolish with the benefit of hindsight. The sounding of the death knell for music made with guitars has happened before, but with the closure of London’s most beloved venue, The Luminaire in Kilburn in December, it looked as though the naysayers might have a point. About a month before the venue shut its doors for the last time, a band debuted in support of The Warlocks. Lola Colt was born, and a glimmer of hope burst forth into a supernova. Only slightly smaller.

The death of guitar music has been reported with alarming regularity, and it’s true that the music scene looks as fallow now guitar-wise as it did when all the NME had to write about was Destiny’s Child and the New Acoustic Movement at the turn of the century, though while rock journalists heaved a massive sigh of relief when The Strokes came along, right now is a potentially far more interesting time as protagonists seek out influences more peculiar and left-field than ever before. If the guitar has been misused it has inspired the likes of Anna Calvi to harness it for something altogether more cinematic, moody and expansive, and this generation breastfed on Twin Peaks are poised to burst through with something altogether more wonderfully curious than we’ve heard before. Lola Colt somehow marry the best bits of louche Americana with shoegazing and deliver a sonic punch that is menacing and oozing with cool, imbued with the sounds of Link Wray and the Velvet Underground and Ennio Morricone.

The London-based six-piece kick things off with Boom Boom Blasphemy, a song that builds with purpose, cowboy kicking and alacritous maracas, feedback intensifying, bass tom stupefying and Danish singer Gun Overbye stunning all with her powerful, soaring vox. The lazy Patti Smith comparisons are all but inevitable in the future, though there are elements of Siouxsie Sioux’s vocal theatrics and punk presence and Chrissie Hynde’s warmth and dexterity, for want of two more lazy comparisons.

Jackson, with its slide and hand-claps commences like Personal Jesus (the Johnny Cash version) though Lola Colt take it to an altogether more invigorating conclusion, as it clatters and clusterfucks its way there like a runaway train with a hard-on as firm as a baby elephant’s head. Rachel Chan, the auxiliary percussionist/vocalist helps guide things along, and while there are six people in this band, it never feels overbearing, no rhythm or guitar line superfluous, no drum beat wasted. Each moment is measured, whether its deft and sinewy and lean or insatiable and frightening and consuming. Even the feedback, deployed by the two able guitarists Matt and James, scales and swoops with a spirit and a verve but always on the leash, kicking like wild horses tied up in a storm. The band sartorially elegant and set again the Underbelly’s velvet curtain (they should always play in front of a velvet curtain) makes you remember again what it was to fall in love with a band, and unconditionally you do it all over again. And who couldn’t when face-to-face with this tantalising cacophony of unfettered sexual energy?

They finish with Driving Mr. Johnny and then they’re gone too soon. But only for tonight are they gone too soon.The future isn’t written yet and it seems unlikely they’ll not be able to win over hearts and minds where intelligence flickers. They may even rollover some of those flat-earthers.

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