Pop: Boys and their toys

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The Independent Culture
REGULAR FRIES KING'S CROSS SCALA LONDON

MODEL AIRCRAFTS, table football, Scalextrix sets. Men have been known to go to great lengths to recapture their childhood glory days. Your next-door neighbour may be a force to be reckoned with on the stock market by day, but all the while he is probably fantasising about pitting his remote control car against the legs of the dining-room table.

Will Beaven, Paul Moody and Andy Starke have taken things a step further. They have relinquished respective careers in graphic design, film and music journalism in order to do what most guys have a stab at around the age of 14. They have started a band.

You've got to hand it to them. Jeopardising the mortgage for the sake of a teenage dream requires a certain amount of courage though detractors have been quick to cite the band's industry contacts to account for their success.

Mercifully, Regular Fries aren't taking their new-found careers too seriously and their live performance was as shambolic as you would expect from a bunch of inebriated blokes approaching middle-age.

Combat seemed to be the evening's theme, though their khaki attire and camouflage backdrop bore no reference to the current crisis in Kosovo. The Fries manifesto extols the virtues of rock'n'roll excess, and wages war on the drudgery of 9 to 5.

It appeared that they had invited their mates to join in the fun as there were people on stage whose sole purpose was to keep the beer topped up. A supine saxophonist lurked mysteriously in the shadows, to no audible effect, while the band appeared to be taking turns with vocal duties, handing over the mike when they had had enough, each delivering nonsense verse lyrics in a tuneless whisper.

At times, their psychedelic noodling became incoherent and the band seemed to be relying more on wacky affectation than music. Indeed, their relentless buffoonery made them more a comedy act than a band. A Bez-type character sported maracas that grew mysteriously throughout the show while a nebulous man-at-the-desks threw fake money into the audience in a vain attempt to start a mosh.

But their shuffling rhythms were enticing all the same, prompting more of a dignified sway than a beery swagger, and formed a hazy backdrop to their surreal lyrics. There were passing nods to Primal Scream, though the Fries are largely indebted to the Happy Mondays, both in their come- down grooves and the ramshackle nature of their set.

Regular Fries are a classic case of boys and their toys. The shine of the rock'n'roll lifestyle will inevitably wear off, but we can be happily swept along with their boyish enthusiasm in the meantime. After all, it's probably only a matter of time before they discover the delights of the potting shed.

Tonight, Newcastle Riverside; tomorrow, Glasgow G2

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