Camden Crawl 2009 - Saturday

From the theatrical arms flailing drama of 'Earthquake' to the shimmering Depeche Mode-echoing 'Symmetry' there is a joyous, unbridled enthusiasm.

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Posted 5th May 2009 in Features & Reviews, Little Boots | By Greg Inglis
Camden Crawl 2009 - Saturday

The blazing sunshine may be on temporary hiatus but this doesn't deter swarms of people turning out for day two of the Gaymers Camden Crawl. Aside from the multitude of participating bars, live music venues, clubs and pubs is the less conventional and ever so slightly cramped MySpace bus which hosts a number of mini concerts throughout the weekend. Frankmusik, however, is forced to cancel his planned DJ set after getting stuck on the way, much to the chagrin of some slightly stalker-like teenage girls who are generously compensated by getting the chance to meet their idol.

After a long wait we finally got to see some live music in the shape of Matt Abbott, aka Skint & Demoralised, despite having barely enough space to stand up and dance around, which the Wakefield lad explains is a normal element of his live experience. Although he'd originally planned on doing an acoustic gig there is a last minute change of plan as he raps and sings over recorded beats, interspersing his songs with spoken-word poetry based on anecdotes about everything from racism to being compared to Scouting For Girls by one scathing reviewer. The guy in question clearly didn't know what he was talking about as he is more akin to a Northern Mike Skinner, a gifted storyteller who pulls no punches with his language and lyrical content as tales of getting beaten up in Wakefield cosy up to tributes to girls who wear red lipstick, eat fish and chips and drink orange juice.

Having witnessed what amounted to a glorified Led Zeppelin tribute band in the form of The Dirty Film, it is up to the loveable Little Boots to redress the balance. Looking every inch the disco diva in a stunning backless dress she delivers a faultless set of tracks from her forthcoming debut album that enchants a packed Roundhouse, where The Virgins had tried and dismally failed to do so the previous night. From the theatrical arms flailing drama of 'Earthquake' to the shimmering Depeche Mode-echoing 'Symmetry' and the infectious 'Remedy' there is a joyous, unbridled enthusiasm which wins over the crowd. Using her beloved Tenori-on to create a whole string of weird noises and bleeps is like witnessing a child opening their presents on Christmas Day, but the dimunitive Blackpool lass also finds time to play tambourine and the odd burst of synths as her assembled mini band took an anonymous back seat. "I think this is the biggest crowd I've ever played to" she exclaims at one point and the closing 'Stuck On Repeat' has them clapping like some kind of robotic army whilst attempting to sing the lyrics back with varying degrees of success. There are many scenes of wild jubilation with people coming together to jump, sway and shake it down, and what better way to shake the recession blues.

After a quick break to clear the stage The Maccabees were handed over the baton and given the chance to shine. Orlando Weeks and co. tear through a number of tracks from their first album including 'Precious Time' and 'Toothpaste Kisses' with confident bluster. Maybe there is something in the air but beautiful down-tempo closer 'ILove You Better' is the perfect slow dance soundtrack after some seriously frenetic pogoing. Letting the songs do the talking with minimal interaction was a clever move, and shout they did.

After such energy-sapping shenanigans it is time to take a step back by taking in the now pirate free Peggy Sue at a crowded Camden Monarch. Having played the same venue last year with a nearly identical set-list they expressed to feeling a strange sense of deja-vu, though this was far from a passionless going through the motions. The charming 'The Sea The Sea' was just one of the many musical vignettes that touch you with their sheer simplicity but killer sense of melody. They even manage to impressively reinvent Missy Elliott's 'All In My Grill' by stripping it down to gentle acoustic guitar and harmonies with some xylophone thrown in for good measure. They truly are a delight to behold and proof that you don't need a six figure stage show to get inside the heads and hearts of your listeners.

Golden Silvers have been hotly tipped as one of the bands to watch but their set at the Black Cap fails to convince. Amidst the weird surroundings of TV screens playing random music videos and giant mirrors it is only 'True Romance' which has enough bite to reel in an underwhelmed audience with a steady trickle leaving throughout. After two solid days of live music there was time for one more band to step up to the mark, and a legendary post-punk motley crew at that.

After the ghostly figure of Elvis singing 'Unchained Melody' is projected onto the video screen and the vocals gradually distorted beyond recognition, The Fall minus Mark E Smith take the stage before the singer emerges minutes later to considerable applause. You never quite know what to expect from a Fall set and this is no exception. The talismanic singer in his trademark high-waisted trousers spends the majority of the 45 minute set either sat down or completely offstage which makes for a unique if somewhat disconcerting listener experience. This is powerful, heavy and downright awkward music that had layers of feedback but yet the packed Electric Ballroom crowd are still shuffling their feet appreciatively. It may not be everybody's cup of tea but it is a real privilege to witness one of the most important and defiant bands in the history of British music at their intimidating best.