Monday 13 May 2013

The Monochrome Set: Live at Bush Hall, London April 27th

Bid & Lester Square of The Monochrome Set - Photo Steve Worrall
The Monochrome Set played a wonderful gig in the rather ornate Bush Hall, it was a perfectly balanced set-list with a choice selection of old favourites and tracks from their latest, and rather excellent, album "Platinum Coils". The first support act were the splendid Indie-Pop band, Would-Be-Goods, who happened to feature Monochrome Set bassist Andy Warren putting in an impressive double shift, and guitarist Peter Momtchiloff moonlighting from the rather more raucous Hot Hooves, who recently featured on the Blog here. Next up was Stuart Moxham, once of Young Marble Giants, who unfortunately failed to hold the attention and a large part of the crowd seemed to drift off to the bar. Maybe it was because I'm not familiar with any of Stuart's recent material and maybe it was the somewhat weak sound, along with having to follow the more compatible Would-Be-Goods, that didn't do him any favours. It also all went on just a bit too long and there were murmurings of impatience around me.

Andy Warren & Helena Johansson - by Steve Worrall
Suddenly it was over and after a short pause, a character dressed as "Where's Wally" appeared on the stage and took their place behind the drums. The familiar tribal beat of "The Monochrome Set (I Presume)" kicked in and the band appeared all dressed in black. All apart from Lester that is, who sported a rather fetching Black and White stripey suit and he struck up the buzzing guitar intro to the perfect set opener. This was followed by another track from "Strange Boutique", their superb debut album, the saucy tongue twister "The Lighter Side of Dating". "Jet Set Junta" and a brilliant run through of the classic spiky Post-Punk single "Alphaville", keep the die-hard fans happy and then it's into three songs from latest album "Platinum Coils". This album, in my view is probably their strongest and most complete album since "Eligible Bachelors", and in particular "Hip Kitten Spinning Chrome" can easily hold its own amongst their "classic" material". Tonight this comes over brilliantly and "Cauchemar" and "Streams" follow seamlessly.

Lester & Bid of The Monochrome Set - Photo by Steve Worrall
I was pleasantly surprised that they played "Walking With The Beast" from one of my favourite albums "Dante's Casino", driven by a rollicking Samba beat, it was one of my highlights of the night. Next we have a triple hit from the faultless "Eligible Bachelors" album - "Fun For All The Family", "I'll Scry Instead" and "The Ruling Class". Then we are brought bang up to date with two more tracks from "Platinum Coils", firstly "I'm Happy To Be Here" and the brilliant "Waiting For Alberto" which has had me singing "I hope it's not bananas..."  to myself, and probably a few passing strangers, all week. Some non-album tracks follow; "Wallflower", "Cowboy Country", the 'big hit' "Jacob's Ladder" and then the grinding brilliance of "Eine Symphonie des Grauens" closes the show.

Photo by Steve Worrall
Due to the time restraints Bid said, "we've come to the end of the set and as we don't have much time, just pretend we've gone off stage and come back on again...", before heading straight into the songs marked for an encore. We were treated to a beautiful rendition of "Goodbye Joe" and then a thundering romp through "He's Frank" before the band had to finish rather abruptly. Abrupt was the word of the day as we couldn't even get a beer in the bar afterwards as it shut bang on 11 and we were then, rather unceremoniously herded out by security - Saturday night, London, Rock 'n' Roll...!

Despite my slight misgivings about the Bush Hall, I felt that this was one of best shows I have seen from The Monochrome Set in recent years, the band were tight and the set list was a fan's dream, well probably all except for one fan, who's persistent calls for "Fat Fun" went unanswered. But with such a huge back catalogue packed full of so many delights, you're not going to please everyone all of the time, although I am sure tonight the band came pretty damn close. The band will play in Madrid on May 18th before heading off to America for some dates. They will return to the U.K. for a show at London Cargo on July 13th with more dates to follow later in the year. Please check out  the band's web-site for more details on the shows.

Would-Be-Goods - Photo by Steve Worrall
A cheeky Bid - Photo by Steve Worrall
Steve Brummell - Photo by Steve Worrall
For more photographs of both The Monochrome Set and Would-Be-Goods, head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and hit "Like"  for access to the photo album. We played a track from The Monochrome Set's latest album "Platinum Coils" back in Episode 3 of Retrosonic Podcast.

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