White Rose Movement with The Violets
Night & Day Café, Manchester
Sunday 12th March 2006
Freezing cold. Sporadic snow showers. A proper old winter’s night. The gritters are out on the journey up the M62 into the heart of Manchester. It’s a relief to warm up in the intimate surroundings of the sweet little venue that is the Night & Day Café.
First up the Violets, a neo-punk outfit, a three piece whose lack of bass guitar is more than made up for heroic urgent choppy riffs of a single guitarist and Herculean rolling drumbeats. Vocalist Alexis, resembling Blade Runner’s Pris, barks out lyrics in a way that brings to mind Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, Karen O … and, oh, so many punk-wannabes… Their power and enthusiasm is undeniable, as they thrust their way through a 30-minute set, including singles Descend and Mirror Mirror. Attention-grabbing at first, it soon becomes apparent that this band are one-trick ponies, and they might be pushed to hold an audience’s interest for much more than this time. Although Alexis implores the crowd to step up towards the stage, a gap remains between them and us. It would be interesting to see if they are able to develop musically in the future. For all of their energy, there is only so much that a band can do with so few instruments.
The room fills up notably in the minutes before the arrival of headliners White Rose Movement, and now the crowd are pressed up against the stage in eager anticipation. The Norfolk five-piece seize control of the room with opener Pig Heil Jam; electro pop infused with power rock, overlaid with commanding vocals. Half close your eyes and it could be an 80’s edition of Top Of the Pops: a pretty-boy floppy-haired, Flock Of Seagulls bassist, a stocky, curly-haired New Romantic guitarist, an immaculately made-up female keyboard player and a vocalist suggesting (and considering the location of the gig, lets be really blasphemous) early Joy Division. Sorry, drummer, couldn’t quite see you from where I was standing. And together it works; they power through tracks from the forthcoming album Kick with the confidence of a band that know that they have the eyes of the musical world upon them. Single Girls In The Back has the crowd moving as singer Finn jumps onto the lined-up speakers, barking out lyrics while swinging from the lighting bar, filling the space between stage and ceiling as though making the statement ‘Already too big for this venue’. On we travel, building a wave of anticipation, through album tracks Idiot Drugs, Test Card Girl and early EP Love Is a Number. Finn is a powerhouse of energy: when not throwing himself to the front of the stage, he picks up a guitar to top up the dynamic industrial thrash, or assists keyboardist Taxxi with 80’s synth accents. But closing track Alsatian, although undoubtedly dramatic, seems to miss a trick. The final impression is that there could have been so much more – the build up didn’t present all that it promised. It was good, yes, it was very good… but it should have been memorable. There is no encore; as though the band simply lack the stamina to give any more, such is the level of energy sustained throughout the set. Nonetheless, I am happy, as I’m sure so many others are, to be able to anticipate saying in the not too distant future, that I saw this soon-to-be-huge band in such a small venue. White Rose Movement: watch this space.