The Sonics/The Horrors, The Forum, London
Rock's demonic upstarts are given a lesson in the dark arts
Monday 24 March 2008
The Horrors have become NME favourites and cover stars by reviving the antics of Screaming Lord Sutch, the original British ghoul merchant, and doing the odd cover of "The Witch" by The Sonics. Seeing these latecomers to the alternative, underground ball on the same bill as headliners The Sonics – the original Sixties garage rockers all the way from Tacoma, a small town in the North-west US, on their first ever UK visit, certainly helps put things in perspective.
In the early Sixties, The Sonics followed The Wailers, also from Tacoma – rather than the reggae group – and The Kingsmen, from neighbouring Seattle, and developed a proto-punk sound which has resonated down the years via the Stooges, the MC5 and Nirvana. They split up 40 years ago but the three core members of the original quintet reunited at the end of last year.
The Horrors and The Sonics remain a mouth-watering – nay, a potentially psychosis-inducing proposition – a meeting of like minds across the generations. Sadly, The Horrors don't live up to expectation, even if they try hard to conjure up the spirit of the late Joe Meek, the British producer of "Telstar" fame. The fantastically coiffured and monikered Faris Rotter looks like the twitching corpse of Joey Ramone but his vocals are distorted in a fashion Fall frontman Mark E Smith would approve of. At one point the lanky singer seems to say "This is my real voice, I swear!" proving, if nothing else, that The Horrors may make a horrible, howling racket but they have a sense of humour. Over the pulsating throb of drummer Spider Webb and bassist Tomethy Furse, organ player Coffin Joe throws shapes as if auditioning for an Ed Wood movie but they remain a band in thrall to their rather narrow and predictable record collection.
The Sonics, on the other hand, redeem what could have been a damp squib finale to Le Beat Bespoke Volume 4 Weekender. Larry Parypa's guitar chords ring out and it's straight into the Satanic stomp of "He's Waiting". The dark material penned by frontman and keyboard player Gerry Roslie 40 years ago has endured. "Some folks like water, some folks like wine, I like the taste of straight strychnine" he hollers as they launch "Strychnine". Mind you, The Sonics also excel at taking other people's songs and making them their own, as on "Have Love, Will Travel", composed by Richard Berry, the writer best known for "Louie Louie". When Rob Lind plays his saxophone, the fans jumping up and down don't even mind the fact "Psycho", the original composition they end with, basically recycles the same primitive chord sequence. Their brutal version of "Louie Louie" wipes the floor with the hundreds of other versions. "The Witch", their first single, is, if that were possible, cruder, rougher, wilder still. On the way out, a fifty-something father and his son are both enthusing about the gig.
The Sonics' primal appeal is indeed timeless.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 Cara Delevigne addresses awkward interview on Good Day Sacramento
- 4 MH370: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
- 5 MH370 debris: Investigators 'confident' that Boeing 777 wing found - live updates
Frank Ocean, where's that new album at?
Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May officially heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk
Top Gear: Jenson Button reportedly joining Chris Evans as replacement host
Game of Thrones season 6: New toy line suggests Jon Snow is not among the dead
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains