Live Review

S.C.U.M., Sala Razzmatazz, Barcelona

Short and sweet, but it was oh-so-worth the wait.

To hell with rogue scheduling I say. 3am is late in anyone’s book, but for a gig? That’s pushing it. Hanging round for this to start was a bit like waiting for the arrival of Thomas Coren & Co’s debut album; long overdue. Waiting for Thommo if you will. At least the time gave me cause to think. And as my brain slowly cranked into gear, I had sudden realisation: the bean counters have stumbled on a new scheme. Club night concerts. You’ve got a dancefloor that’s full at weekends, noise and curfews aren’t an issue, so why not get some bands in augmented by the house DJs? They get a full house, the promoter and venue make a killing, and the punters get good value and a great night out, so everyone’s a winner, right?

Um, yeah. I guess. A mix of post punk, hard house, and chart chaff gets a bit confusing once the drinks take hold – it is 3am – but before I can ponder further, they’re on, and launching into a full on sonic assault. “Faith Unfolds” is frenetic, next single “Amber Hands” has an extra groove not present on record, and the synths of “Days Untrue” are lent a Church-bell-like quality, a perfect union of the righteous and the unholy. Maybe they too were tired of waiting – Blue Balls as Michael Stipe once so memorably put it – as they seem to have a point to prove, and even the more reflective moments such as “Paris” don’t derail the build up to “Whitechapel”, which is suitably grandiose and theatrical. Ending amidst blinding white lights and a pall of smoke, it’s all over in a flash, and we’re returned to Indie Remix Hell.

S.C.U.M. are one of these bands that divide opinion. You want to dismiss them. You want to sneer, and preen, and say “Pah, it’s all so 2008, innit?” You read their back story and immediately form assumptions round “art rock”, “East London”, and being influenced by Dadaism. But then you figure without the swagger, the polish, and the raw power they bring. You ignore (the dapper) Cohen’s crooning – part Ian Curtis, part Nick Cave, and delivered with a debonair calm that conveys “We belong.” And you obviously fail to spot the impeccable timing, and the wall of reverb and distortion that sneaks up and washes you away on a tide of euphoria. It may have been short and sweet, but it was oh-so-worth the wait. S.C.U.M. are finally here, and resistance is futile.

Tags: S.C.U.M, Features

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