Live; Minty The Garage, London

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The Independent Culture
It's a pity I first see performance art popsters Minty the same week I first see Bruce Springsteen. After Springsteen's astonishing show, you can't help but feel disdain for any musician who isn't in it for the music. Minty seem to be in it for the devil costumes, gold glitter make- up, naked ladies wrapped in clingfilm and stage shocks. This is fine and dandy, but it's almost like they don't need an audience at all. They'll show us their arses whether we're interested or not.

Not would appear to be the case, judging by the sparsely attended gig. Worryingly for Minty, they have been lumped in with the New Romantic revival. They do wear make-up and sound all electronic, muse the style hacks - hey, we've got a movement here! The audience is a terrifying amalgam of extras from the nightclub scene in any Polanski flick of the last 10 years and chicks with 22 holes in their ears.

After a man in a silver sandwich board has invited us to go home with him, using the chat-up line: "I have sharp knives and a shiny bath tub. I have drawers full of sleeping pills. You could be like Marilyn Monroe", Minty creep on stage. Nicola Bowery, widow of Leigh, is naked but for a plastic cage of tubes lined with fairy lights. Her face is a gruesome kabuki mask of panstick and forehead-high black eye liner. The angelically pretty Matthew Glamorre, host of London's trendy niterie "Smashing", seems to be sporting a massive David Byrne-style shoulder-pad suit. Only the guitarist in an Oasis cagoule lets the side down. But maybe that's their most effective costume so far.

"My mind is like a plastic bag," shrieks Nicola in "Plastic Bag". And for about 10 minutes, that is all she shrieks. The current single, "That's Nice", is easier on the ear: pure B52's "Rock Lobster". "Swan in oil" or "God is dead" yodels Matthew Glamorre, to which Nicola Bowery replies "That's nice" in shrill "A haaandbag?" tones.

If this is art, it has the merit of being available to people all over the country: art - now playing in some dodgy Midlands indie venue. If they mean to be a pop band, it's not populist enough. It's not that they don't have the tunes - "That's Nice" could be the next "Doop" or "Saturday Night'. But Minty won't ever get a slot on Top Of The Pops because, to put it simply, they'll frighten the kids. Still, in 1996, when the Manics can have a genuine top three hit and scary Keith Prodigy is a lovable pin-up, that is an achievement in itself.

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