Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Retro Man Blog Night with The Len Price 3, Les Kitschenette's and The Past Tense at The Half Moon Putney, September 26th

The Len Price 3 at the Retro Man Blog Night photographed by Paul Slattery
Firstly, I'd like to say a really big thank you to all that came along to September's Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon Putney last Friday - if you were there I'm sure you'd agree that all three bands played fantastic sets, it was a blast! It was especially pleasing to see the great reception given to Les Kitschenette's who we invited over from France for their very first U.K. shows in conjunction with You Got Good Taste who hosted the band at Weirdsville at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on the following night. I know the band were blown away by the positive reaction and warmth shown from everyone at both gigs and I am sure they have made lots of new friends. 

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
So, back to Friday night and kicking off the proceedings were long time Blog favourites The Past Tense, who actually opened our very first Retro Man Blog Night back in 2011. They have recently expanded to a four-piece, adding Buzz on second guitar, and it all worked perfectly. Thankfully, the extra guitar didn't over complicate matters but beefed up their much loved classic three-piece sound and seemed to boost front-man Andy's confidence in the process. It was definitely the best performance I've seen from the band and they delivered a tight and tuneful 40 minute set with a selection of well known tracks from their two excellent albums "Pick 'n' Mix" and "Take Three". However, it was the new songs that turned out to be the highlights of their set for me. 

The Past Tense photographed by Paul Slattery
First of all "Vision" perfectly captured the underlying touch of Soul that the band pack into their three minute Garage Rock nuggets, which is testament to the excellent rhythm section of Ken and Warren. It's bloody marvellous! As is "Just Keep Believing" which shows how well the band are developing, it features some excellent melodic backing vocals. "Heads Held High" reminded me of Eddie & The Hot Rods at their best, a bit of a bovver boy stomper with some nice guitar interplay between Andy and Buzz, it goes down really well with the crowd. "No Apologies" is a Northern Soul tinged singalong that gets people dancing, and I think it would make a great future single. 

Andy from The Past Tense photographed by Paul Slattery
The complex Quadrophenia tribute "Jimmy's Love Song" is now a well established favourite and it ends with Andy scraping his guitar along his microphone stand. This was followed by a sprightly version of the latest single "Remember The Days", which they were selling on the night in a choice of bright red or yellow vinyl. Then "Wolfman" and "Throwing It All Away" end a quite brilliant set from The Past Tense and it makes me look forward to their new album even more. If they can somehow capture the energy of tonight's live performance in a studio it should prove to be a classic album. I think a trip to the Medway's Ranscombe studios is surely beckoning...!

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
Next up were Les Kitschenette's, who were down to a five piece as Lucille had been advised not to travel due to her forthcoming baby. First of all the four musicians run through the aptly named "Rosbif Attack", Rosbif being the French nickname for us Brits, which is a delightfully weird instrumental from the 1966 movie "Ne nous fachons pas". Singer Ludo takes the stage and apologizes for his partner Lucille's absence, admitting "I am the father, or I hope so...! Welcome to Paris...!" and then they launched into a cover of Nino Ferrer's "Mao & Moa" followed by the Serge Gainsbourg composition "Dents de laits, dents de loup". As this was originally a duet with France Gall, you feel Lucille's absence suddenly but Ludo covers both male and female vocal parts really well. 

Les Kitschenette's - Photo courtesy of PRH Photography
Anyway, the boys did Lucille proud, in particular Ludo and lead guitarist Francis, who threw everything into the performance. Ludo was wearing a vintage military jacket with a huge "Les Kitschenette's Need You!" badge and one black leather glove, I guess in homage to The Music Machine's Sean Bonniwell. He has an easy going charm and a twinkle in his eye, he's like Austin Powers meets Serge Gainsbourg. Francis is all action, a constant blur, one minute dancing away as he plays and the next it's foot on the monitor posing with guitar held high. During "Hide & Seek" he jumps into the crowd, he's a bit of a "roux dieu de la guitare" as the old French saying goes (according to Google translate...!). Amongst the highlights of a perfectly paced set are covers of Les Missiles "Ne pense plus à lui" and Delphine's Yé-yé classic "La Fermeture-Éclair". 

Les Kitschenette's photographed by Paul Slattery
The incredibly youthful looking Claude is a great drummer and with his rhythm section colleague Fred's excellent bass playing, he powers everything along perfectly. Mathieu, the super-cool Mod, alternates between rhythm guitar and organ, sometimes during the same song, and adds tambourine and backing vocals too. Each band member has a unique character and there's a really good chemistry between them all, they seem like a bunch of friends having a great time and this transfers directly into the audience. They get a well deserved encore and play "Où va t'elle?" from their first E.P. which ends the set on a real high. When I first saw them in Paris I was determined to get them over to the U.K. and I am really pleased it all worked out so well for them. 

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
Well, there are not many bands that could follow that, but luckily The Len Price 3 are one of them and as they took the stage and crashed into the stuttering "Words Won't Come" it was clear that they meant business. It was another faultless show from the Medway based three-piece and they crammed in songs from all four albums with those from the latest "Nobody Knows" such as "Preying Mantis" and "Billy Mason" now fitting in seamlessly alongside their well established classics like "Rentacrowd" and "Girl Like You". Tonight was particularly special as they debuted two brand new songs "Nothing I Want" and "Sally Ann" which went down really well. 

The Len Price 3 - Photo courtesy of PRH Photography
In fact, they were so new that the Pubmonkey movie writer Jamie O'Hara had to hold up a lyric sheet in front of Glenn while he tried to sing. Both songs were a bit darker and heavier than usual but were nevertheless still packed with the usual lashings of harmonies and catchy choruses that we have come to expect. "Sally Ann" broke the mold even further as it had a slight twist of Pixies, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Beach Boys all rolled into one surefire future single. A raucous "Pictures" saw the dancing ramped up to the max and the set drew to a close with the crowd favourite "The London Institute". The final joyous encore of "Shirley Crabtree" sparked off the now customary stage invasion and it all descended into glorious, feedback drenched chaos. 

The Len Price 3 photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd like to thank Phil Stradling of the night's sponsor Adaptor Clothing, Eric from King Salami & The Cumberland 3 for designing the superb gig poster, Carrie and staff at The Half Moon and Steven Tagg-Randall for filming the night, you can check out the full sets from all three bands at his YouTube site. Thanks also to Paul Slattery and to Paul at PRH Photography for the excellent photos. You can see more photos of the night by heading on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hitting "Like" (if you are not already following) for access to the exclusive photo album. 

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