Jesus Jones Pop Will Eat Itself And The Wonder Stuff 19th Dec 2012 Shepherds Bush Empire
We’ve been asked a few times why we feature indie music on this site. Although it’s mainly about house hardcore and techno oldskool you’ll see we have a specific indie tab on the main navigation as well. The reason is simple – there was a pretty big cross over in music tastes as well as styles, especially in 1991 and 1992. We know plenty of indie kids who also went to raves, plus everyone had a copy of cross over albums such as Screamadelica and Chill Out. We also know plenty of people who were indie kids in 91 and 92 and were to be found at The Ministry, Basics and others a few years later. We were very lucky to have had two such strong genres emerge into the mainstay at practically the same time. So although we love Carl Cox, Sasha, Loftgroover and N-Joi, we were also stage diving to PWEI. If you look through any copy of Melody Maker (RIP) or NME from the early 90’s, as well as their dance music sections you’ll also see album and live reviews of dance groups, and even some of the big raves. Groups such as EMF, PWEI and Jesus Jones all used dance music as staples in their own music so we cover them here.
And on that point last night Jesus Jones opened the Sleigh the UK tour at the Shepherds Bush Empire. We’d never seen them before although we like their first two albums Doubt and Liquidizer. Both the Wonder Stuff and Jesus Jones were outnumbered in the t-shirt wars by PWEI but by the end of their 40 minute set they had got quite a few people dancing. Not classic indie gig moshing, but definitely moving. Despite all being 40 plus their energy and enthusiasm was obvious, real stagecraft. Many other bands who look bored should take note (including later the guitarist from the Wonder Stuff). Good rapport with the crowd, and throwing instruments around (especially the keyboard) – just as it should be. Real Real Real, International Bright Young Thing, Info Freako and more were all given an airing. They even played Zeroes and Ones, although sadly not the legendary Prodigy Remix . We’d definitely be up for seeing Jesus Jones again. In many ways they were badly marketed, in a similar way to EMF, with the fun and energy overshadowing the decent tunes. When the initial euphoria did away they became deeply unfashionable, which in hindsight was unfair. Their cartoony image, with the glove hats, shorts and primary colours were all very 1990 but on this evidence they had plenty more to give.
Pop Will Eat Itself were always our favourite indie band. After splitting up in 1996, and a couple of Reformation gigs in 2005, they resurfaced in 2011 with only 1 original member – Graham Crabb. We didn’t go to the first of their new tours, so were a little nervous about tonight. Their new material is a slow burn despite being very punky – give it a whirl here . However the PWEI faithful were out in force. This shouldn’t be a surprise with active forums such as PWEInation still around. For some of the PWEI back story read ex member Adam Moles amusing anecdotes as he tries to sell off his memorabilia to fund a new camper van. Personally we were very impressed with seeing both several of the legendary PWEI Club Mondiale t shirts, one of which recently sold for £350 on eBay, and a Very Metal Noise Pollution T shirt from the 1989 tour.
They opened with Search and Destroy from the new album then it was straight into 3 classics and the mosh pit was in full force. Perhaps it was the fact that there was a little more room than normal, or the 2 blokes in particular who were hammered, but we can’t remember seeing such violent mosh pit back in the day. Two lads almost came to blows, there was a lot of pushing and grabbing but it just about settled peacefully, and there was even an old skool twirling round dance we haven’t seen in years. The music psyched the crowd up, it was full on aggressive poging. It was brilliant. The new MC alongside Graham may look like a PE teacher but he knew both the words and how to hype the crowd. The other new band members looked like PWEI veterans and overall it was very tight. Highlight? Probably Their Law, from PWEI Mark 1 originally with the Prodigy, Graham even crowd surfed, no mean feat for a man of his years ;-).
Some of the more genteel Wonder Stuff fans looked horrified by both the crowd and the music, which is just as it should be. We are looking forward to more from PWEI both on the road and in the studio.
The Wonder Stuff were supposedly headliners, but PWEI had won both the t shirt war and the biggest crowd approval, so they were always on the back foot. Starting with the latest single is always a risk. As already mentioned the guitarist looked bored, and although PWEI have proved that new members can be a success, we weren’t convinced by the new violinist. In fact it reminded us why we always preferred listening to the Wonder Stuff at home in short bursts rather than live, although we do have a vague collection of seeing them 3 nights in a row back in 1991. The crowd sang along, although the mosh pit was much safer. We left when Size of a Cow came on.
Sleigh the UK continues at various venues around the UK this week, and is already taking bookings for next year. We will see you there.