There’s a new band in town. Albeit a legendary lost one. The Creature Comfort make a triumphant return and Jason Wynne is there for Louder Than War.
The Creature Comfort – remember the name as I’ve got a feeling they’re going to be causing quite a stir not just in the underground scene but on the more commercial scene too. Once managed by the maverick, highly controversial Gareth Evans (remember The Stone Roses?) they now return to the fray with founder and frontman Ben Le Jeune accompanied by a talented and tight 4 piece band with a great female vocalist thrown in to boot to make what could turn out to be the Famous Five rather than the Fab Four.
Tonight I’m at the Castle Hotel on Oldham Street for the Launch Party of debut single ‘Sally Sucks‘. A near capacity crowd of young and old hipsters is entertained to a full gig on a balmy summer’s Monday evening. The band have admirably put on a free gig with guaranteed free goodie bag consisting of CD single, stickers, press release, a snazzy badge and a few tasty wine gums too – free alcohol of sorts!
Due on at 9pm the band, in true rock n roll style, take to the stage at a fashionably late 9.30pm. The intimate venue is perfect. It’s steeped in history and reknowned as a hub for music and creativity amongst the bohemian types who frequent this haunt. Tonight Le Jeune, and his alter ego too, will make the stage his very own.
The band kick off with a stomping song called ‘Electric Eyes’. Years spent out of the limelight , the “critters” are immediately released from their comfort zone of inactivity with blistering ease. All the angst, frustration and pent up energy are offered to the world with breakneck speed. Without room to catch your breath it’s straight into ‘Windowpane’. This song about alienation in Moss Side is the b-side to the debut single but could quite easily be the single itself. Le Jeune is prowling the stage, engaging the audience and offering 100% attention. The crowd return the favour only further encouraging the madness and enthusiasm of an Iggy Pop or a Bono (War tour era) or a Tim Booth (freaky dancing to boot). Next number ‘1000 miles’ is fast, furious and, frankly, fantastic with shades of Pixies and Neil Young coming through.
When walking to the gig earlier on in the evening I had to walk past the tragic scene where brave firefighter Stephen Hunt had recently lost his life. It was a somewhat eerie feeling passing the on duty police officers and firemen still in attendance as the smell of smoke remained in the air. Being in such close proximity to the tragedy caused me to experience shivers down my spine and in an equally poignant moment The Creature Comfort’s next song ‘Step Down From The Sky’ was dedicated to the hero who sadly is no longer with us. A Nick Cave style vocal and a fitting tribute showing just how great music can be uniting people during times of grief and sadness and even helping us all, even if ever so slightly, to deal with pain and loss.
“With you I have no fear” sings Le Jeune during ‘I Do Need You’ – a poppy post-punk blues song at it’s best with plenty of head nodding and foot stomping from a now ever increasing number of punters entering the room from the adjoining bar, obviously intrigued by the noise coming from the hidden gem of a music room. The appreciative audience has swelled at the right time as ‘What We Want (Power, Corruption and Lies)’ is the next song and my favourite of the night. Crowd reaction suggests this will be a regular, popular choice at future gigs.This could be a killer track for the band.
‘Sally Sucks’ is the reason we’re all here right? The song is your classic single – snarling, frenetic and over in less than 2 and a half minutes. It hits you low and brings you to your knees gasping for air. Luckily then that they follow up with ‘Sauce’ as this gives the audience time to get back up on their feet rather than be knocked down by a deadly blow from the band. It has a hint of early, manic Blur but for me it’s the weakest sounding song live although the majority of the crowd would disagree as they leave the stage to rapturous applause from both old and new found fans with shrieks of “encore” and chanting of “we want more”.
Not usually a lover of band’s playing the same song twice in a set (I did once witness a band called “No Sweat” playing their only (?) famous song “Tear Down The Walls” FOUR times during a gig!) but despite Le Jeune’s protestations that “we never play encores” on this occasion it seems acceptable that the Creature Comfort return to the stage to perform the debut single ‘Sally Sucks’ again. Again they nail it and this time they leave us on our knees, gasping for our. Showtime is over and the crowd leave with smiles on their faces and there’s a genuine buzz amongst the crowd that they’ve just seen something quite different.
The band now take a well earned break before releasing their debut album in October with another single in September. The advice is to catch this band doing what they best – playing live. As Le Jeune ended proceedings by saying “this band is here for the good of yr critter soul” – I couldn’t agree more.
All words by Jason Wynne. This is Jason’s first piece for Louder Than War.