Jamie T/Guillemots, Summer Sundae Festival, London<br/>The Cramps / The Priscillas, Astoria, London

The Buffalo Bill of rock
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

With his babyish face and hoodie, Jamie T looks like he should be hanging around outside TK Maxx in the precinct. He's got that voice, too. That new London accent - so brilliantly satirised by Catherine Tate - which is nails down a blackboard to me, and seriously impedes my ability to enjoy his work.

However, Treacy has talent. A one-man band, strumming a guitar in a skiffle style and rapping over the top, he even breaks into scat once or twice. His superfast rhymes tell all-too-believable tales of being sick at house parties, mixed with comical bravado ("take your girlfriend round the back, and she comes back limping") and pure cock and bull: when he says he "might buy a handgun", you don't believe him.

His worldview is also a more outward-looking one. He laments that so many of his peers are "fighting for Tony", and adds that "my great granddaddy fought in Gallipoli/The only one of his generation not shot down dead".Move over Doherty: we now have a guitar-toting London troubadour who does show up and does deliver.

Supermarket Rock is taking over the world. Guillemots are arguably a case in point. Their debut album, Through The Windowpane, has insinuated its way into Tesco. There's a case to be made, though, for Guillemots - a motley assortment of Hoxtonite trilbies and haven't left-home-in-a-week face fuzz - being the acceptable face of Supermarket Rock. Sure, there's little that would scare fans of Chris Isaak. Sure, Fyfe Dangerfield over-emotes almost as heinously as the chap from Starsailor. But they're equally likely to use a colliery brass band or edge towards Mercury Rev's strange beauty.

With the exception of a new song with the refrain "they're coming... and they want to take my face" (hinting at Radiohead-ish paranoia), their lyrics generally have the wide-eyed romanticism of prime Aztec Camera, and wherever possible, eschew cliché ("I love you through sparks and shining dragons, I do/Now there's poetry in an empty Coke can... There's majesty in a burnt-out caravan...") They are, in other words, the anti-Snow Patrol: a council gritter, if you will.

A lazy comparison for The Priscillas would be the 5678s, but these four rock harder, with their cheeky "Ace of Spades" outros and no-remorse lyrics ("gonna rip up your photograph" is a typical line).

They're here for what is rumoured to be the last ever UK show by The Cramps. If The Cramps die, a sizeable bit of rock'n'roll itself dies. Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach have been doing this since I was eight, and I'm not a young man.

Proffering one crooked, gloved hand and waggling an alarmingly long tongue, the now-sandy-haired Lux spits the cork of his wine bottle, gives the mic a blowie, Ivy starts twanging, and he's away. There's something deeply sinister about him, reminiscent of Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Who knows if these are even words that he's singing? Off mic, you can lip-read him mouthing random rock'n'roll exclamations ("Louie Louie! Yeah!"), regardless of whether it's Tommy James and the Shondells' "Hanky Panky", or something by the god-knows-whos "from Washington state". (The Cramps don't play any of their signature tunes, like "Surfin' Bird" or "Can Your Pussy Do the Dog", because they either don't care or don't know which songs are their signature tunes.)

Then The Cramps are into their finale. Lux falls to the floor, writhes, crawls, and kisses Ivy's shoes. He's got chills, they're multiplying, and he's losing control. Then they're gone, probably forever. That was one decrepit freakshow. And I'm damn glad I saw it.

s.price@independent.co.uk

Comments