Hercules and Love Affair, The Village Underground, London
Wednesday 16 March 2011
I'm not entirely sure who Hercules had an affair with, but after a cursory glance at the band as I entered Shoreditch's Village Underground, I'd guess Run-DMC, Grace Jones, M-People, Kraftwerk, Queen and Yazoo. An eclectic combination, you might think, and you'd be right. But inadvertently intruding on their eccentric one-night-stand, I found that I wasn't the only one mesmerised by what I saw.
The New York-based "project" rotates its performers and "cast" regularly, and this is the last time London will play host to Hercules with this particular medley of singers. The vocals were belted out by dreadlocked fan-turned-member Shaun Wright, hip-thrusting Venezuelan transvestite Aerea Negrot, and Kim Ann Foxman, a tiny girl engulfed in a gargantuan Michael Jackson jacket who is a Hawaiian lesbian jewellery designer. I'm delighted to hear that kind of thing is still going on. And why not. This Glee-Club-for-adults doesn't judge, it just dances. The group played the set seamlessly, flowing each epic synthesized ballad into the next, stopping only to interject with a somewhat unnecessary reminder that they were from New York, baby.
In full, strobe-adelic swing, the venue, if you haven't been, feels not dissimilar to how the Warehouse Project used to feel back in its Hacienda heyday, but with the added bonus that it isn't. Full to capacity on the night I was there, it is clear that Mark Pistel, producer of some of the finest electronic and hip-hop tracks of the late 1980s, has been lurking somewhere in the band's genesis.
"Painted Eyes", the first song from the new album, was their magnum opus on the night, transfixing the crowd with an infectious energy that wasn't overcompensating for lack of talent. Sure, I nearly got my eye taken out by a newly-thrown shape, but by that point I was too busy capturing little fish in cardboard boxes to really care.
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