When we first started this blog we were advised of a few fundamental rules that should be followed. There are principles for writing about music and, in particular, reviewing concerts that should always be applied. For example;
Gig reviews must be written in the present tense.
Don’t write in the first person – the review is not about you.
Don’t write about the venue or your trip to the venue – see above.
Don’t be a fanboy – be professional, your love for the band should be apparent without being explicit.
Don’t swear unnecessarily – and if you must, be imaginative.
Let’s break some rules.
Like most of the music blogging community, I kind of lost my shit a bit when the then unknown and mysterious MS MR released “Hurricane” into the world with just a ‘popeleptic’ video to accompany it. I searched and searched, I googled like never before but found next to nothing about them online aside from other bloggers doing the same. Then I came across the Ghost City USA EP of demos and my hunger was briefly sated. Then in the summer of 2012 it was announced that this (still) mysterious duo would be coming to London to perform at one of the Guardian sponsored New Band Of The Day nights. Tickets were duly bought but my excitement soon turned to disappointment as it was announced that illness would prevent the band from travelling and performing.
Later they would come out, reveal themselves to the world and the gaps in the back story began to be filled in. More music was released, the Candy Bar Creep Show EP came out to rave reviews, taking some of the Ghost City… demos and building them into complete and wonderful tracks. Gigs and tours became more frequent, reviews were ever more effusive in their praise and the band’s profile kept rising. Then something remarkable happened; a gig in Norwich was announced. Sleepy little Norwich, which this year has already played host to some amazing acts, was going to be blessed with a visit by the Addams Family of glitchy pop. I was fucking stoked.
And so the gig came at last. Tonight at a Waterfront that was already buzzing from a storming set by The Ramona Flowers, I got to see one of my favourite new acts perform and it is fair to say that all my expectations were exceeded.
Immediately it is apparent that Lizzy has developed into an amazing and confident performer. The slightly nervy and restrained singer that was on show in the band’s session for Yours Truly has been replaced by a sassy and exuberant frontwoman whose persona owns the stage and whose voice fills the venue. They look and sound amazing, Lizzy in her black leather biker jacket with a yellow, cropped vest top underneath, her blue hair growing out, she’s like a Hells Angel Gwen Stefani while Max is resplendent in his denim vest top.
There’s more energy and vitality than I expected, the tracks feel more up-tempo, especially “Salty Sweet” which is high velocity, vibrant and clap-a-longer-crazy. Every track sounds superb and the venue is rocking. Judging on this performance, Second Hand Rapture (out in May) could well end up as one of the albums of the year.
What is surprising is just how damn sexy the pair’s performance is. These tracks, like “Bones”, “Dark Doo Wop” “Ash Tree Lane” etc, are quite dark and macabre, they shouldn’t be hot and smouldering, but they are. There are winks, saucy looking smiles, some groovy boogying and the best looking shoulder work there’s been since the Backsteet Boys rocked our bodies. The crowd is lapping it up, singing along and whooping and so am I. This is something special indeed. The beats are compulsive and as Lizzy works it on stage so too does the crowd. I’m reminded of that wonderful line uttered by Jason Lee in Almost Famous as the singer for Stillwater. ”You know what I do? I connect. I get people off. I look for the guy who isn’t getting off, and I make him get off”. There’s no need to look for that guy tonight as he won’t be found, everyone is getting off on the sound of MS MR and I imagine that they will be for many nights to come.