Live Review: Clean Cut Kid – Liverpool

Clean Cut Kid

clean cut kidThe Shipping Forecast, Liverpool, 29th July 2015

Words: Gary Lambert

Live Photos: Gaz Jones

Support band Lying B’stards kept to their name by performing fifteen minutes later than their advertised start time. The wait was definitely worthwhile as they played a mixture of blues mixed with straight out rock music. Mixing the sounds of the Deep South with the heavy rock of 1970’s Birmingham with occasional hints of funk. Rather than sound messy and uncertain, the altering of styles showed that these guys are not a one trick pony of playing Led Zeppelin I and II to slightly different tunes, but very capable musicians who after only being together for a few months are still searching for a sound that is distinctly theirs. Whilst they’re searching for it, songs such as Head To Tokyo are definetly good enough to keep us interested.

 

Also in support and making his Liverpool debut was Declan McKenna, a young man with plenty of promise and confidence by the bucketload. Looking at the stage and seeing a young man looking like a 16 year old in 1996 who has spent too much time in his bedroom making music rather than getting drunk on Thunderbird and Hooch does not fill me with confidence. I was expecting a shy and uncomfortable performance, but I was treated to a one man band of short sweet pop songs such as Paracetamol with Declan playing keyboards, guitar and arranging his drum machine. He was secure enough on stage to not feel rushed when setting up his instruments between songs. Fair play too for performing considering he had a heavy cold which had a noticeable effect occasionally on his inexperienced vocals. Considering his age and the position he is in already, Declan definitely has a future, although next time I go to see him I would like a bit less of the bass in the sound. Set finisher Brazil showed off his skills in setting up a simple, but effective tune, so maybe the key is less is more for this youngster. (Declan if you’re reading this, I was the scary bearded Scouser who slapped you on the back as you were leaving.)

 

clean cut kidThen came Clean Cut Kid and Oh My God! After disappearing out of the dungeon which is The Hold at The Shipping Forecast for some fresh air and to send a few texts, I returned to find the room chokka. Absolutely rammed like I have never seen it before. I took my place at the back of the room because I couldn’t see anything of the stage. A cheer went up and then Clean Cut Kid started and were breathtaking. With no hyperbole whatsoever, this was the best sounding band I have heard this decade. And possibly longer to be honest. I cannot remember ever hearing a band sound so pure. It felt like the smallest stadium gig ever. Whenever a song finished it was received with applause and whooping, all of it loud.

 

I never like to write wholly complimentary reviews because I think it gives people a false impression of what live music should be. Live music shouldn’t be a performance as rehearsed as The Mousetrap. This is what makes it thrilling. Plus it always comes across as a bit too phoney if you’re backing a band too much.

So as I was watching I was trying to think of negatives. And it wasn’t easy! Maybe the songs all sounded similar, popped into my mind, but that was not the case once I really thought about it. The similarity within them was the quality and character in the vocal performances. Maybe the songs sounded a bit too designed, but then they pulled out Evelyne, a song about the difficulty of writing a song about someone you love. As we’ve all struggled once or twice to put “you are pretty” into a sentence or text message that didn’t sound like a token gesture, the thought of putting those words into a piece of poetry that could be set to music that people could dance to and enjoy seems more challenging than throwing a feather to the moon. My biggest complaint was that I didn’t know the words to the songs (or so I thought) as Clean Cut Kid’s songs are made for putting your arms over your friends’ shoulders to sing along with.

clean cut kidBy this stage I was borderline euphoric when Clean Cut Kid played their penultimate song, Vitamin C. I had already purchased the 7 inch of this earlier convinced by the literal description “orange scented vinyl” and I was looking forward to hearing it when I got home. Then it hit me, HARD, I knew this song already, I knew this song near word-for-word. Vitamin C has been played at so many gigs and club nights that I have been to that it had imprinted on me without me having a clue who it was. It is a brilliant piece of pop music with a great chorus building to the phrase of “I want to be your vitamin C”. It is beautiful! A simple, understandable phrase that sprinkles with star quality. I wasn’t the only one singing along either.

An acoustic number, Jean,I think it was called, but it was hard to make out over the cheering and hollering, finished the night off and showed that the songs don’t even sound similar… Then it was off out into the cool fresh air and to wait around for Gaz and Elena and bump into other people who all wanted to talk about how impressive the last hour had been. It was such a special night and I am going to bore people for years about this show as Clean Cut Kid rise and rise.

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