The Dandy Warhols, Koko, London
Monday 23 August 2010
Real music lovers are supposed to treat greatest hits albums with disdain, but surely few will be as welcome as The Dandy Warhols' recent retrospective.
Released last month, it spans the 12 years and five albums the Portland band were signed to Capitol and serves as a great reminder that – once you strip away the filler, of which there has undoubtedly been rather a lot – frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor has written his fair share of cracking (if rather derivative) indie-pop songs.
It is clear, however, that the record's release has not cleansed the four-piece of their worst excesses. Never a band to play a chord progression once if they can repeat it a hundred times, tonight's gig shows that The Dandy Warhols remain unable to resist the urge to interminably stretch a song out, which on more than one occasion results in sections of the crowd chatting among themselves.
What makes this all the more frustrating is that when they do get it right, the results are hugely enjoyable. "Get Off", "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth" and (despite it being overplayed thanks to a certain phone network) "Bohemian Like You" are all minor classics, and are welcomed by the audience with glee. Even though Taylor-Taylor struggles with the high notes, "We Used to Be Friends" remains infectious while "You Were the Last High" manages to stay on the right side of the line between dreamy and soporific.
Not known for their musical experimentation, there is even a moment out of left field when Chris Constantinou from The Wolfmen joins them for a bit of rock flute on "Lou Weed", and they also manage to rope in The Specials' brass section for "Godless" and "All the Money or the Simple Life Honey".
Sadly, the flashes of brilliance are all too rare, and you feel that this is how The Dandy Warhols will always be. There are no signs that this greatest hits album signals the end of the band, but if they are still playing in 10 years time, then it is almost guaranteed they will remain as maddeningly exasperating as ever.
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