Pop: A shambolic star is born

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The Independent Culture
IF YOU saw Paul Vickers, singer from Dawn of the Replicants, coming towards you on the street, you'd have every right to cross the road. If he came into your pub, you definitely wouldn't serve him, though you might be tempted to call an ambulance. Dressed in pyjamas and a smoking jacket, and brandishing a cigarette as if it were a cattle prod, Vickers looked like a strange hybrid of Farmer Barleymow and Noel Coward. Suffice to say, he isn't the most obvious candidate for pop superstardom.

"I'm not pissed, I'm... well-oiled," he croaked, wrestling with the mike stand and struggling to dislodge his chin from his chest. The rest of the band didn't look up to the job either, staring morosely into the middle distance with the kind of wearied expressions that suggested we could be in for a long evening. But the shambolic nature of Dawn of the Replicants' set was their winning card. From their sensuous melodies and uncalculated ecleticism, to Vickers' jocular between-songs banter, they were a most unlikely, yet brilliantly exhilarating rock band.

The Galashiels-based five-piece sing about witches, models, sea birds and Windy Miller - "I am Windy Miller and you are the wind" - with songs that are given a further twist with surreal, nonsense-verse humour. Think Edward Lear meets TS Eliot.

Their music, meanwhile, rides roughshod over folk-rock, psychedelia, indie-pop and electronica, unexpectedly morphing into something completely different, just as you are about to pin it down. Despite his inability to focus on anything further than his shoes, Vickers sang with earth-shattering conviction, upholding the theory that the Replicants' idiosyncrasies are not merely affectation.

Throughout the soaring "Candlefire", he was a seasoned crooner, dewy- eyed with his arms outstretched, while his child-like attempts to shower the stage in glitter seemed a sweet, if befuddled, gesture.

Later, he went into a long, convoluted explanation of why the band's album titles are so long-winded, concluding: "It's only because it takes up more room when you get press."

But then Dawn of the Replicants is not a name that is easily forgotten either, and such delightfully crafty tactics hint at a certain astuteness underneath the absurd exterior. The Replicants are the sound of five brilliant minds that have been taken to seemingly unimaginable heights. Indeed, if Roxy Music had met Jethro Tull at a Velvet Underground gig, this is surely the sound they would have made.