Arts: Pop: Norwegian? Get away!

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The Independent Culture
"WE'RE FROM Norway," The Getaway People's singer Boots explains politely after their first song. If it's a Manuel-like excuse for foreign lunacy, it couldn't be more apt. Their first UK gig ended with Honda, the beanie-hatted keyboard player, leaping on to the speakers of the tiny 100 Club to screech AC/DC's "Back in Black", while the guitarist Stone mock-fellated his instrument in front of a slack-jawed audience who had no idea who they were.

A month later, their second single, "She Gave Me Love", is at least getting airplay, familiarising a few in the crowd with their Post-Beck Soul Power sound, one part irony to one part passionate conviction. The question is whether they can live up to the apparently spontaneous glee of first impressions.

The LSE's dour lighting doesn't help, making the band's laid-back good humour hard to communicate. The sampladelic tinge to their sound, which makes Beck comparisons inevitable, also seems less important. Honda's keyboard is used not so much for its samples as to fill out the band's sound, adding horns to musicians who combine funk fluidity with tuneful discipline. Boots, meanwhile, gives vent to his theories on appropriate Funk Soul Brother behaviour, noting: "Everybody at the LSE getting down" for the first time since 1975, then pleading, "Beam me up Scottie, now", during "Kneecaps".

With a guitarist doing smirking impressions of his heavy metal brethren, a bassist on loan from the Hair Bear Bunch, and a comical keyboardist, it would be easy to dismiss The Getaway People as a joke. In fact, Boots's funniest asides suggest the band's substance. "Awl right darling!" he blurts out at one point in his best Barbara Windsor. When he switches accents to a New York secretary, then a British Rasta, and inserts references to both "the Newcastle 125 to London, where I found my baby" and American TV, he seems victim and benefactor of a cosmopolitan schizophrenia.

My later discovery that he's half-English, and went to Newcastle University, doesn't dull my impression of someone with distance from areas an Anglo- American pop native would touch only with care. How else to explain their most passionate, and yet most ridiculous, song, "Does My Colour Scare You?", in which Boots takes on the persona of "a white man with a gun in my hand", and ends in crucifixion pose? Add pro-female, often beautiful, yet pastiched lyrics, and this strange, perky package is almost complete. All they need is some word-perfect fans, to bring their songs and showmanship to full, funky flower.