Pop: Cramped house

The Cramps

Astoria, London

Come with me, Brad and Janet, through the swampy heat of the Astoria, up the stairs past snow-white faces whose brows are plucked like Elsa Lanchester's, whose lips are tinted a shade of lilac you only get on slabs, whose cheekbones are artfully shaded purple and, hey, that's just the guys. It's a return to the Batcave, or like having a bit part in The Hunger, but don't be intimidated by those cold stares: there's nothing to be scared of here. Erick Lee Purkhiser and Kristy Marlana Wallis - who wouldn't change those to Lux Interior and Poison Ivy? - may howl about skulls and S&M, but they're really a devoted couple who love their cats and could sweep the board on Mr And Mrs. Everyone knows that what you come for is the panto, the chance to get your Rocky Horror fishnets out, to be once more a pulse-free goth - and God, I know I'm one.

Of course, Lux and Ivy have made a pact with Satan. This is why, in their mid-50s (at their age Dean Martin was droning in lounges or tottering round the golf course) they look like 20-year-olds. Ivy is dressed down in dominatrix boots and leopard print leotard, Lux is a big girl's blouse in kitten boots and figure-hugging Lurex (and, possibly a hidden banana). Why, they're so slim, you say. Do they take drugs? Goodness me, are you a day-old chick?

By now the show is under way, the building throbbing to the juju sound of Link Wray psychobilly, Eddie Cochrane on speed as we shimmy into "I Was A Teenage Werewolf". The drummer - using elephant femurs, I think, but it's hard to see - is concentrating on bashing his way through to Tottenham Court Road tube station. Ice queen Ivy is expressionless, but she has a lovely way of shrugging a path stage front when hammering her guitar, a wired-up acoustic heavy enough to do double-duty as bass. Lux is a dynamo of Nijinski-esque acrobatics. Bellowing like a rutting bag, he is so orgasmically overcome when guitarist Slim Chance delivers a thrash feedback solo that he executes a couple of back flips Nadia Comaneci would be proud of. Five minutes later, he delivers gravel-voiced instructions on how to be hip before we go outside and disgrace ourselves. "You think all you need is sunglasses," he roars with avuncular concern. "Well, you're wrong. Because I'm such a nice guy, I'll tell you what you need. Culturrre!" Eh? "Yeah! Let's go down the British Museum! Now!" Well, Lux, but it won't be open.

Apart from falling-down drunk, what else did we get tonight? "Cramp Stomp", "Goo Goo Muck", "Hot Pearl Snatch", "Ultra Twist"... They all blurred into one as, to be honest, Cramps tracks sometimes do, though What's Inside A Girl, Surfin' Bird and Can Your Pussy Do The Dog can't be beaten. Even with a switch.

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