Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Slits at the Islington Academy

The support band was loud and the lead singer/guitarist looked as though he had been practicing looking wrecked in front of a full length mirror. Maybe I was just a mite impatient, after yesterday's long drive. The music wasn't bad, it was just that the drummer had the grace and agility of an elephant's foot...

On bounced The Slits, with Ari in yellow and green, her dreads bunched above her head in an Ancient Greek style (too much Medea in my life!).
The bass started up and started making my jaw shake immediately: Tessa was looking very happy; Anna looked stern at first but soon relaxed into the vibe. The new guitarist Honey Chile concentrated hard on her playing and Holly stood behind the keyboard.
They started off with some of their earlier songs- including Shoplifting and Typical Girls. It's amazing how sophisticated those songs sound now! Their first new song, Reject was very punky and they gave it the full energy treatment. It was most definitely a Slits song even though it was new.
Ari got the audience participating with jungle noises and told us all about seeing an interview about the Runaways being the 'first all-female punk rock band'; she was annoyed by the continuing myth-making about it all.
Another new song was a lover's rock song that featured Holly on lead vocals, Tessa on Keyboards and Ari on bass. It was lovely, actually- I really like lover's rock and their boisterous take on it works really well. They definitely have the voices for it.
Ari was on saucy form and was also having huge fun- she accidentally did a little dance and made it into a little sketch with Anna and Tessa where she was a bull charging into an imaginary cloak, with Anna making the drum rolls and the crash as Ari hit her target.
They did Grapevine with Andrea Oliver and Tessa's daughter Phoebe (except their version is Bassline).
At one point Ari asked the crowd what they were doing in '76 and misheard the answer from a punter.
'You shot your puppy?' She was horrified.
'No, I shit my nappy', said the horrid audience member.
Ari sang an acapella song called Bashment (that's a Jamaican party) while Holly went to relieve herself (she threw a glass of water over the audience afterwards that left everyone wondering what was actually in there).
The next song, Trapped Animal, featured Honey Chile on vocals, Ari on drums, and Anna on guitar.
At the end, Ari sent the set lists winging into the crowd and picked up her huge array of clothing (from the Bronx: she had been dressing and undressing all the ay through, and she's in bloody good shape!), and the band bounced off as energetically as they had appeared.
I have seen a lot of contemporary pretenders to the Slits' crown. There isn't anyone like them: so many of the younger bands have manufactured themselves in their image and make copies of their music without understanding what generated it in the first place. I am very much in favour of all-woman bands, obviously, but most especially when they have their own voice, something that the Slits discovered many years ago.

On the way back to the tube, a lone busker played and ear-splitting version of The Wild Rover on a penny whistle.

No comments: