Alaska Studios, 20.8.2010
Nothing like a gig in London to go to – and this one was redhot, though I didn’t know it at the time of asking.
I knew nothing about either band playing at this showcase, put on by label Alaska Sounds, and by the time I’d decided I could go I’d left myself precious little time to check them out. A little knowledge can sometimes be a bad thing, so I didn’t worry about it and set off in beautiful ignorance. And with perfect hair, which could well be the first time ever I’ve been able to say that.
At the back of the studio warren, Celine and Dave Ball were just finishing up soundcheck, and pondering the lighting vs visuals conundrum. Easily sorted with the help of small lamp and tall bloke! Both are polite, friendly and softly spoken, which sure as hell gives no clues for later. Calm more or less reigns with the protagonists, though prayers are being offered elsewhere that this all goes to plan. No signs of problems anywhere. Celine’s preparations are unhurried, and she still shows few signs of what’s to come.
To the tiny, warm room that’s tonight’s focus, then, glass of pink fizzy in hand. The Savage Nomads, first. The four lads know very well what they’re doing, and do it very well, too. Clean, bright shafts of guitar dance across darker punkpop, illuminating and contrasting, allowing a flash of a 60’s vibe to escape every now and then. They have a strong following already, and a residency at the 12 Bar Club, Denmark Street. EP coming out soon – listen and get more news on myspace.
A short break, much needed. It’s getting VERY warm, and people are buzzing. They really want to see this. Nite Wreckage – collaborators Dave Ball and Rick Mulhall – are joined by drummer Terry Neale to provide visual and aural backgrounds for Celine, who is not so much of a singer as a protagonist. When she arrives on stage, she’s not the same woman I met earlier. She’s transformed, and not just by clothes and makeup. Celine is now a denizen of the seamier side of London, switching through centuries as she makes sure you know where she’s at. Aggressive, contemptuous, funny and scary/scared – perfect portait of a Lady of Soho, don’tcha know? She’s could be the Poly Styrene of THIS decade, but she is most decidedly Celine. Perfect electropunk swirls round her tempestuous lifelook, two sources of hardedged noise complementing each other lustily. Jane Austen is famed for her portrayals of society in miniature – Celine has it down pat, with grit and beats. Oh… and a hammer.
What a performance. Rapt hot sweaty audience, hot sweaty room. There was humour, there were grins, there was dancing to damn infectious music. When Celine and Nite Wreckage are on stage, you pay attention. I am forever grateful to myself for taking up my invitation. Entertain me? Fuck, Yeah.
Many thanks to Martin Tibbetts and all at Alaska Studios.