Saturday, 15 June 2013

Review of The Inca Babies at The Green Door Store, Brighton. June 14, 2013

They swaggered on to the compact stage built on the cobbles under Brighton railway station, The Inca Babies' brand of punky death rock perfect for the grimy Victorian archways that house mechanics in Coronation Streets all over Britain.

They've been doing this for thirty years now. Harry's urgent voice echoing dark narratives over his twanging, wah-wah-ing Cramps guitar. Vince the bespectacled bass player using his riff-rippling guitar like a conductor's baton, an ironic smile reminding us not to take it all too seriously. And big Rob thundering along on drums that sound like Hulme used to look in the Seventies before the bulldozers rolled in.

They're a band from the nightmarish crescents of Eighties Manchester that sound like they came from the garages of post-punk New York, a sound synonymous with John Peel sessions, rock lobsters, woodlouse-infested bedsits in Sheffield, big quiffs, Tuesday morning hangovers and thrashing around at gigs without ever being accused of dad dancing. It's the end of the summer, it's the end of the world.

Harry's still full of wide-eyed nervous energy, working up a jacket-off sweat with his edgy jerking: "The hits just keep on coming," he quipped, as the Babies ran through a 40-minute set centred around their marvellous new album, Deep Dark Blue. Stand-out track My Sick Suburb was a highlight on the night - a retro-riff around a retro teen-angst lyric delivered with a Mark E Smithish drawl and a trademark sardonic sense of humour.

There was even some gentle dancing by dads in black on the cobbles. The Babies have retained a loyal fan base in places as diverse as Kirkcaldy, Athens, Belgium and the Isle of Man. Wherever they play, people turn up to remember the Evil Hours, the post-C86 days when the NME was as essential as alcohol and punk was only just post.

It didn't matter that Harry's guitar went out of tune, or that his lyrics struggled to make themselves heard in the quicksand bikini sound mix. That's what headphones and Spotify are for. Tonight it was all about atmosphere, passion and Slick.

Maybe it was the couple of pints in the Evening Star before the show, or the couple of bottles of Landlord behind the atmospheric Green Door afterwards. Maybe it was meeting up with old friend Paul and comparing Manchester City notes. Maybe it was the warm glow of the Inca Babies' monologues of madness. Whatever it was, I slept soundly in my new tour t-shirt on the late train back to London. And snored contentedly through the night in my own sick suburb.

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