Camden, that boil on the neck of North London, was briefly brightened up last night by an Indelicates gig. They were the best I’ve seen them so far. Arrogant as fuck, opening with ‘The Last Significant Statement to be Made in Rock’n’Roll’ and in content and form embodying the line Anger is an energy.
The more I hear them live, the less satisfied I am with the demos and downloads I have. I like their clever-cleverness and their occasional prissiness of delivery – the concept behind a song like the girls-school madrigal version of ‘Our Daughters Will Never be Free’ makes it a practical requirement – but I can see why they attract criticism on grounds of being twee or self-satisfied or, apparently, too ‘drama-studenty’. (Sorry, she went to Goldsmiths; objectionable drama-student tendencies spread there with the virulence of memes or STDs).
But the demos lack the seeming desperation and spat-out contempt that drives the songs when live. On record, only ‘Fun is for the Feeble-Minded’ and maybe ‘Julia We Don’t Live in the Sixties’ come close to reflecting the urgency and vitriol of their onstage selves. ‘Sixteen’ is glorious live, skipping along giddy with laughing in the face of scenesterettes. ‘Heroin’ (which I was astonished to learn is not a Suede pisstake, but should be), is a perfectly sustained and poker-faced lament that pulls the carpet out from under the past decade’s eulogising of crap towns, pointless lives and pale thin girls with eyes forlorn. ‘We Hate the Kids’ is already one of our great lost singles, simplistic enough but delivered compulsively vicious with a beautifully executed swagger that renders it anthemic. Live, they mean it even more.
Lyrics like ‘Rebellion shores up the market / Rebellion keeps the nation healthy’ have been done, of course (’Turning rebellion into money’, ‘Rebellion it always sells at a profit’), but when they’re done it’s generally a sign of self-awareness rather than empty sloganeering. Being conscious of and informed by your own ultimate futility and counterproductiveness – the knowledge that your kicking against the whole corrupt edifice does nothing so much as tire you out and keep it standing – is preferable to trading on the idea that popular music currently has any great capacity for danger, subversion or originality, that the revolution is only a sponsored arena tour away. The scene has (once more) become sufficiently smug, bloated and prickable as to call into existence fierce quick creatures with sharp teeth. They are a necessary band. Best song titles since Doherty/Barat, too.
I’m quite aware that people dislike The Indelicates. Alright. It’s rare for me to find a band I’m happy to love. It’s rare that a band inspire me, and this band does. This band also make me want a badge that says ‘They don’t hate the kids as much as I do.’