Pop: Live - White noise, white light, white heat

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The Independent Culture
SIX BY SEVEN'S singer, Chris Olley, once infamously stated he would leave his wife if she ever interfered with his music. It's begged the question ever since of what could be so special about this quietly vaunted Nottingham guitar band.

What did Olley think such a traditional outfit were capable of, what audience did he think they could stir, so late in rock'n'roll's day? Last year's debut album, The Things We Make, gave one clue, with its precisely assembled, nine minute psychedelic epics of disoriented emotion. But it's their current EP, "Two And A Half Days In Love With You", that suggests they might be worth a relationship's sacrifice: songs that sound like lullabies, with an accompanying video, a late Sixties suburban home movie, its ordinariness made exotic by time, that completes a sustained sense of reverie.

What defines them tonight, though, is instead a wish for shape-shifting change. They begin with a brace of new songs. In the first, the guitars escalate with vertiginous jolts, and when you think they've hit the top they leap again. Second new song, and acceleration's the thing, punk-guitar squalls snarling from the traps as Olley, mouth yanked wide, yells "Come on", like Richard Ashcroft fronting the MC5. Next up, "My Life As An Accident" presents an Olley ranting about ego and the ruin of others till his mouth moves silently at his microphone, more disquieting than any sound. By the time the known waters of "The Things We Make" are at last returned to, the noise is falling away and, on "Oh! Dear", a graceful, cautionary tale of romantic obsession, Olley's high, impassioned voice is temporarily exposed - till those guitars cut in, all sweeping Seventies glam-swagger now, and rake everything back up another notch.

On "Always Waiting For ..." his voice actually splits in two, answering himself in a gentle falsetto; truly schizoid.

Six by Seven's strength lies not in the grand sonic innovations some have claimed for them, but in the restlessness such variety implies - the tension between the wish to be peerless and to communicate, the borderline between the testing and familiar.

The anthemic quality of their songs, Olley's ragged charisma and the noisily satisfied crowd all point to a popular future. They could be horribly bombastic in two years time, another Radiohead, adrift in ambition. But for tonight at least, they have the strength of a band still straining, reaching for a success they can't yet touch. They leave to white noise, and white light, leaving us to guess what happens next.