Pop: I'm Sure I Saw Them on A Poster... Bands You Wont See On Top Of The Pops

Annie Christian Brixton Academy London U Ben & Jason Kashmir Klub London U Cube King's Cross Water Rats, London
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The Independent Culture
ANNIE CHRISTIAN'S frontman, Larry Lean, wanted to be adored. He paced about, twitching like a dog in need of castration, silently beseeching the girls at the front to admire the curvature of his behind. As they looked on unmoved, he unbuttoned his shirt and began stroking his stomach in a manner better suited to boy-bands. Again, it was lost on the audience.

As the support act for Echo & The Bunnymen, this Edinburgh-based band had their work cut out just trying to make a musical impact, let alone steal McCulloch's groupies. Though they had a powerful collection of songs, fleshed out by sweeping instrumentals and furious vocals, their problem lay with Lean's lascivious attention-seeking. It was impossible to be seduced by a singer who was so intent on seducing us first.

There were no such difficulties surrounding London duo Ben & Jason. Their seductive tactics revolved around exquisite melodies that, mercifully, bore no relation to their recent work as co-writers with Martine McCutcheon. Backed by an acoustic guitar and subtle traces of cello, their bittersweet songs were simple yet soulful, with earth-shattering vocals that combined Jeff Buckley's visceral wail with the heartfelt murmurs of Thom Yorke. But unlike Yorke's worldly preoccupations, Ben Parker and Jason Hazeley were concerned with more personal matters - enduring friendships, absent lovers.

Despite their fragile sound, Ben & Jason were curiously impervious to the power of their own songs. But such detachment underlined their laudable lack of pretentiousness, and infused the show with a light-heartedness that made you feel as if you were among friends.

Cube had a considerably less genial outlook: their guitarist wore a T- shirt bearing the insignia "Nuke The Swiss". As their songs moved between indie and brattish punk, a wave of deja-vu washed over you. Recycled ideas shaped Cube, though they were in possession of enough pop-star quality to keep you entertained.

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