Live Review

Palma Violets, The Boston Arms, London

Ragged, romantic and tremendously exciting.

These must be strange days for Palma Violets. Anointed as saviours, feted as the future, the build-up they’ve received has left their gigs as rather demarcated affairs. The crowd loosely divided into two factions. Those at the front, who love with the passion that makes you learn all the words, forget your inhibitions and forgo the normal conventions associated with nudity in public places and behind, everyone else.

Perhaps it has always been this way. Perhaps when Shakespeare first staged Richard III there was the hardcore peasants going nuts in the pit, all in official ‘I Swapped My Kingdom For This’ t-shirts, whooping whenever anyone went near a soliloquy, surrounded by the standoffish. With their arms folded, their sneers ready, totally prepared to deride this as nowhere near as good as Richard I.

Besides, the fact that there’s any sort of decently-sized, hemicycle-shaped collection of souls desperate to get up-close and personal with the band suggests that maybe, just maybe, there is something going on here. Maybe Palma Violets are a bit special.

There are certainly times tonight when they seem it. For a three song blitz in the middle of their set everything just gels. The frenetic energy from the band is met by the pogoing response of their masses and the songs sound anthemic and vibrant. ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is good, a louche glint in its eye, the tumbling, carefree ‘Last Of The Summer Wine’ is better, but ‘Best Of Friends’ is best. Ragged, romantic and tremendously exciting.

You could, rightfully, claim that this it isn’t revolutionary. Although the splashes of 60s psychedelia that Pete Mayhew’s keyboards add do suggest a band with more to offer than just anodyne approximations of sweaty guitar anthems. But as crowd-surfing bodies fly past and as fists pump the air, it’s easy not to care. And hard not to grin.

Particularly during the encore where, after seemingly been on a fag break for the rest of the show, suddenly a set of worried security men return to eject interlopers from the stage. As Chili Jesson returns from one of many crowd surfs, he’s almost thrown out of his own gig by a bouncer who can no longer tell band from fans.

After a while they just give up. And by the time things are brought to a close with ‘Brand New Song’ the stage is once more littered with people who aren’t in Palma Violets but who just desperately want to hug them. Saviours? The future? Capable of uniting the warring factions under a banner of peace, love and pints of warm lager? On the evidence of tonight, maybe. Just maybe.

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