The Auteurs: Luke back in anger

The crowd cheered at the mention of the song "Meet Me at the Airport", and Luke Haines was amazed, then sarcastic. "It was a big hit," he mocked. Just three years ago, he might have said those words and meant them. His band, the Auteurs, were frontrunners of British pop, their debut album, New Wave (Hut), beaten to the Mercury Music Prize by a nose - Brett Anderson's nose, as it happened. But since then, the mighty accomplishments of Cast and Northern Uproar have overshadowed them to such an extent that when Haines broke up the band earlier this year, no one noticed. When he formed a new band, Baader Meinhof, no one noticed either. And when he reformed the Auteurs as a support act for Baader Meinhof at Camden's less than over-sized Dingwalls on Wednesday, Oasis's squabbles were in little danger of being knocked off the front page.

It's highly unfair, considering Haines's prodigious talent, but it's not inexplicable. For a start, he is the least attractive member of his band(s), lacking Brett Anderson's hair, chin or cheek-bones, and compensating with a frightening expanse of forehead and brow. But the outside of his head is considerably more attractive than the inside. "I'm going to do all the talking during this half," he smirked during the Auteurs' opening set, " 'cos the other stuff is all about killing people." True enough, Baader Meinhof, named after the German terrorists, are not likely to have their songs covered by Celine Dion. But nor are the Auteurs. The song immediately prior to Haines's announcement was "Tombstone", the two that followed it were "Unsolved Child Murder" and "Light Aircraft On Fire", all from the last Auteurs album, After Murder Park (Hut). This is not a man who dreams of appearing on Top of the Pops. What he does dream of, I dread to think.

If Haines's bilious, literate lyrics rely more on shock value than anything else, at least all the death is brought to life by his trembling gasps and mad, vicious snarls, and the scratchy guitar texture is softened by James Banbury's velvety cello. Haines knows how to put a set of chords together, too. He is a consistently fine composer, whose post- lapsarian (inspired by The Fall) music can be pretty as readily as it can be ugly. "Unsolved Child Murder" is indeed "a tender folk song", of sorts, even if Haines meant the introductory description to be ironic.

Baader Meinhof (the Auteurs with a different bassist, and a woman in black lipstick on the violin) turn Haines's cinematic and experimental instincts in the direction of pulsating funk and noirish spy chases, like dance remixes of Nick Cave's Murder Ballads. Of the two incarnations, I think I prefer the Auteurs, but no matter. Whatever he's doing, Haines is the master of Brit-unpop.

As reunions go, it's not exactly up there with the Sex Pistols or the Beatles. As supergroups go, it's not exactly up there with Cream. As music goes, it's not exactly up there with Chas & Dave. None the less, the Power Station are back, for those of you whose idea of the creme de la creme is Robert Palmer, the drummer from Chic and the guitarist from Duran Duran. Their last (and first) album came out in 1985, back in the days when the number of cymbals on every drum kit went into double figures. The Power Station's hoary, subtlety-free pub rock hasn't changed much since then, but, my goodness, the Power Station certainly have.

The raison d'etre of their mini-gig at the Hanover Grand on Tuesday was to film a video for their upcoming single, "She Can Rock It" (Chrysalis). Unless they're planning to license it exclusively to Oldie TV, I'd beg them to think again. Is this really how they want to present themselves? Didn't Andy Taylor - a shaggy, frog-faced Jimmy Page-lookalike with a cigarette hanging from his pout - use to be a teeny-bop lust object? Let this be a warning to you, Robbie Williams. Then there is Palmer, sadly sans suit, his grey, shoe-salesman slacks pulled up, grandad-style, over his bulging stomach. "You've got to realise," he panted and puffed, "that these songs are a hell of a lot of fun to play." Really? Then why was he so twitchy and distracted? Indeed, why is he embarrassing himself in this manner at all? For the money? I wouldn't bet on the kids queueing down the street for the pompous, Deep Purple riffs of "Living in Fear", the synthetic funk-lite of "Life Forces", or a horrifying Eighties-metal version of the Beatles' already ropey "Taxman".

After all, Seattle's Grammy- winning Soundgarden do the heavy-metal thing with five times the creativity, 10 times the speed and 20 times the volume. But heavy metal it remains. I positively identified at least two instances of headbanging at the Brixton Academy on Thursday, and one of somebody making devil's-horns hand gestures. I don't care if Chris Cornell does have spikey hair, I'd recognise his throat-lacerating howl anywhere: it's Bruce Dickinson as I live and breathe.

To think it was only half a decade ago that grunge seemed to be metal's cooler, smarter, less posturing little brother. Now Soundgarden simply purvey heavy metal's breast-beating bombast while omitting the studded codpieces and the avian decapitation. And it's so self-aggrandisingly gloomy. Whine, whine, pseudo-poetic whine. "I play, I'm sick and lame," goes "Rhinosaur", "Drawing the hordes / I wait, and show the lame / The meaning of harm / The skulls beneath my feet ..." Doesn't this juvenile morbidity make you want to tickle them, or at least give their goatee beards a good hard tug? And Chris, what's with the line "Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try"? Isn't that a bit sick, as well as being crassly untrue, bearing in mind that your fellow Seattle grunge star found that a shotgun did the trick quite effectively?

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

    £40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

    Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before