Monday, August 21, 2006

The Dials

I went and saw a band called the Dials a few weeks ago. They were supporting the Mekons who I'd liked back in the '80s. I think time has left the Mekons beind a bit. They helped to reabilitate country and folk back in the days when Elvis Costello risked an early end to his career by making a Country & Western album, and country generally was slated as cheesey, outdated, for old men. It was even before Johnny Cash was considered to be remotely cool. These days of course, country rules. At least it does if you're male and over about 25, under 45. Everyone now knows Johnny Cash is a great artist, cool, and about as rock'n'roll as you can be. We have bands like Wilco and Steve Earle who easily stand astride both the rock and country camps. Country elements form parts of many rock songs these days. It will leave most people wondering what's so special about the Mekons. They're a northern English band who play country quite badly, but with spirit. To be honest I was a bit surprised that their musicianship hadn't moved on at all, not an inch. Still, I'm glad I saw them.
S. didn't like The Mekons; she took a personal dislike to them after they nattered all the way through the support (The Dials) and gave her dirty looks when she complained. This ambivalence was reinforced when the band announced they were playing Urban75's Offline event in Brixton the following day, to an audience of trendy uptight tossers. Andy, who came with us, wasn't too impressed either. I had a history with the band, and even though I admit they weren't great - they never were technically - it was the spirit, the ragedness, and the fact that they were daring to take Indie where Indie, at first, really didn't want to go, and after it had gone, came back.
The Dials however, went down a storm. I thought they were excellent, and so did S. Mark Lamarr's been promoting them quite a bit lately, and there's a debut album in the pipeline. They're a Brighton band whose sound is very Tarantino-esque in places. I'd describe it as surfer country blues, jazzy too in places. They freely admit they steal from everywhere. My kind of band.
The Luminaire too was an experience - a very little venue, the smallest I've ever been to, probably slightly smaller than the cellar bar in Thames Polytechnic, where I sued to frequent back in the mid-80s.
I might buy the ep.

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