When they pin me to the wall: The Indelicates, the Metro, 18.10.08

Last night’s Indelicates gig was a welcome confirmation of their place in my heart. I was closer to the front than I’ve been for a while – front row in front of Julia, where a baffling amount of space had been left, possibly by her sheer force of charisma or possibly due to fear of incurring her imperious wrath by getting too close while being clearly inferior. Essentially I fell in love with this band the first time I saw them, and they’ve never really deviated from the impression I was left with then. As a five-piece they were interacting far more emphatically and playfully than I’ve seen before. The playing’s more tight these days and as a function of their confidence, precision and bottomless rage, the songs sometimes feel deliberately deployed like gunshots.

Something it’s taken me some time to appreciate is the band’s impressiveness in aesthetic terms. Both female Indelicates have a unique sartorial elegance and poise; where Kate remains serenely unruffled throughout, cool and almost detached in her own bass-heroic world, Julia throws herself into her role, singing with eyes-screwed-shut concentration and finishing songs with icy precision collapsing into uncomprehending, self-effacing smiles, looking half-embarrassed by her degree of accomplishment and its reception. Simon, dressed brilliantly bizarrely (cf last night’s t-shirt featuring Cher as Che Guevara), just stares and sneers and seethes. And then there’s their rhythm guitarist, bless him. A shining example of the lengths one must go to for attention when your bandmates have the stage presence of Simon and Julia, his services to swivel-eyed, spittle-flecked stagecraft reminded me of nothing so much as Steerpike playing Sid Vicious.

One new song: ‘I Am Koresh’, murky and militaristic, which in sound and concept reminded me of ‘Personal Jesus’ and is apparently from their upcoming second LP, ‘a concept album about Waco’. (Hmm.) ‘America’ was brilliantly done, dedicated to John McCain and with a crowd-baiting namecheck for Sarah Palin in place of Bill O’Reilly. (Hmm, again. As Sinead said afterwards, there’s layers-of-irony and then there’s just losing your mind. I have steadfastly avoided comparing my favourite bands to my previous favourite band, but part of ‘America’s dodginess for me is the same unsettled well yes, but – that bothered me (and them, to be fair) about ’Archives of Pain’ – by all means be blazingly angry about your conception of the vagaries of bleeding-heart liberals, but don’t let the finished article read like the Daily Mail. Not that ‘America’ isn’t vastly more subtle and superior.) At least there was no ‘Better to Know’, ‘America’s drippy cardigan-wearing cousin.

As for ‘Our Daughters Will Never Be Free’, I wish everyone with a progressive, performative bone in their body could have crammed in to see it. Julia, abandoning the keyboard, sang the first verse a capella to crowd handclaps before the band slammed in and she took entire control of the stage, tiny and piercing and wound-up with churning uberfeminist rage, disgust and despair. She concluded, slumping back down with her hair all over her face, howling pro-choice invective and the final ad-lib ‘You can be that girl or you can be my kind of girl…’ I can’t imagine it done better.

Best band around.

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