My Passion, The Crypt, London

They've toured and toured, and they're on bedroom walls everywhere, but this year one five-piece will really take off

Even if you haven't heard of My Passion, there's a more-than-fighting chance that your daughter has.

Five almost sickeningly pretty boys from the sleepy dormitory town of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, My Passion are quite conceivably the most rabidly loved underground band in Britain. And the most impressive thing about them is the manner in which they've achieved it.

With no major backing and no funding from a rich daddy, the ultra-energetic electro-metallers, led by badger-quiffed pin-up Laurence René, have done things the hard way: touring, and touring, and more touring.

Meanwhile, the band have sustained themselves by selling merchandise (invariably dayglo variations on their heart-in-a-circle logo), while holding down day jobs at Tesco and Aldi, until the supermarkets had to put them on night shifts because kids kept coming in and screaming at them while they were trying to stack shelves. (Laurence's buff biceps aren't merely the product of an expensive gym. These guys have served time on building sites, too).

This old-fashioned approach (combined, admittedly, with high-level internet savvy, and assisted by a sponsorship deal with Red Bull) has paid off. My Passion have earned a young, ever growing and overwhelmingly female following who travel the length of the country to see them, sleeping four-to-a-room in Travelodges, a dedication the band always repay by giving them face-time after every gig, and generally looking after them (not in the grubby sense that most bands would "look after" such an audience, either: the majority of the band have long-term girlfriends).

The music industry may have been slow to spot the rise of a band that could easily be My Chemical Romance-sized if they didn't hail from the (in rock/metal terms) unfashionable UK, but My Passion's platoon of kohl minors eventually reached such a critical mass that Kerrang! couldn't ignore it, and whacked MP on the cover – still rare for an unsigned act – as well as nominating them for Best Newcomer at the magazine's annual awards. Nor did the publication fail to notice that the photogenic fivesome were ideal poster-fodder, which is why they're currently Blu-Tacked to the bedroom walls of teenage gothettes and emo kids across the nation.

My Passion's organically grown, hype-free pulling power is now such that they're able to lure their barmy army out to play – many of them in punked-up variations on that seasonal classic, the little red Santa dress – during the dead interregnum between Christmas and New Year, to a dark, dank, subterranean arch underneath the main London Bridge railway line with the impossibly perfect address of Crucifix Lane.

Introduced by a mysterious duo of top-hatted henchmen in beak-shaped masks and an old-time music hall barker, the quintet surge on stage looking like five mummified Kings of Orient in white balaclavas, fur-collared snow fatigues and crowns. An angular explosion of elbows and knees, riffs and screams is immediately mirrored by outbreaks of circular moshing, slam-dancing and shrieking down below. David Ryder-Prangley of Rachel Stamp, mutual friend and sometime My Passion producer, turns to me and says – approvingly and accurately – "They're exactly halfway between Slipknot and Bros."

On the cusp of 2011, My Passion are almost unrecognisable from the band I saw rise from the ashes of their earlier incarnation, Shard, to make their debut at my club night Stay Beautiful five years ago. In those days, their most obvious appeal was to the glam and glitter crowd, the Suede/Placebo demographic, and they were a far more fey, effeminate proposition, with frilly shirts the norm and bunches of gladioli wrapped around the microphone. Since then they've beefed up musically as well as physically, and it's more Manson-meets-Prodigy.

What remains is the star quality of Laurence René, the boy with the dragon tattoo, known for yelping such greetings as "Welcome to the corporate flesh party!" or "This is the fabulous blood disco!" among bouts of heavy breathing of the kind that could get you barred by BT (or at least fast-tracked for an asthma inhaler). There's none of that tonight, but he does brandish a Gandalf shillelagh and Yorick skull with a theatrical panache that the Bard, whose re-created Globe is but a couple of hundred yards north-by-northwest, would appreciate.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about My Passion live is their attention to detail. Every last moment is milked for maximum excitement: a calculated, vorsprung-durch-technik combination of chaos and choreography. At least, it is now. Before they nailed the split-second accuracy of their stage moves, broken teeth and noses were an occupational hazard from Simon Rowland's flying bass head or Laurence's mic stand.

Apart from a spooked-out, Hammer Horror rendition of "Plastic Flesh Garden", a song introduced with self-deprecating irony as "our hit", many – even most – My Passion tracks may appear indistinguishable to the uninitiated: almost prog-like structures, almost funk-like rhythmic undercurrents, obliterating metallic guitars, and a lot of screaming. It's a template which, on the single "Day of the Bees", culminates in a stage invasion from the frenzied faithful.

If you don't "get" it, it might be because you're too old. I know that's a cheap shot, and I can't prove it, but I'm just putting it out there. And if My Passion still isn't on your radar by the end of 2011, one thing is certain: it won't be for want of trying.

Next Week:

Simon Price faces up to singer/rapper/actor/whatever Drake, once he's finished playing bowls

News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy