Not that you'd know (unless you were there). But this was one of the gigs of the year. If only for the clichéd notion of 'triumph over adversity'.

After an unfortunate cancellation of the band's originally scheduled performance for May, Deltasonic's rabid The Zutons finally met The Basement Club in August, yet without ease. Upon a successful sound-check, the shattering news is delivered: London's tube-network is f**ked - that is to say, a touch of rain on the rails, and all trains in the UK-capital are affirmatively useless.

Dogs Die In Hot CarsSo, bollocks. It's 9:45pm, the doors have been open an hour, and all that are indoors are forty people. You would utter, 'Shame,' if it weren't for the fact that we can't help this pathetic fact.

Yet, the miracle occurs. A surge of fanatical industry and music-revellers flood in, and we're sold out by the time of the onstage entrance of Scotland's meticulously-hyped Dogs Die In Hot Cars. Their buzz is for good reason - from the opening jangle-shout of 'Apples & Oranges' and 'Lounger' through to the pleasing, ska-tinged debut-45, 'I Love You Cause I Have To', it's frantically pop-savvy, Talking Heads meets Dexy's, incorporating joyful punk-funk, four-part harmonies and a five-piece set-up of melodic-grit that'd have you weep. A conclusion via the sex-doused 'Chinese Girl' and grin-evoking 'Paul Newman's Eyes', and we're swooning.

The ZutonsAnd come The Zutons' eventual arrival, the reactions are near fever-pitch: deafening enthusiasm from those that know best, and newcomers to their orbit alike. It opens extravagantly - broad Scouse emblems of parping sax, shuffling bass and dizzying guitars, plus drums from Sean Payne and vocals courtesy of Dave McCabe to compel and defy.

Ed HarcourtMcCabe's the one seemingly here to prove something, too - jumping off the stage to wriggle amongst his audience, and angle the guitar like a shotgun during a furious, chilling 'Zuton Fever', prior to which we grab a sumptuous, sleeking 'Creepin' An' A Crawlin' and 'Havana Gang Brawl': compelling, zealous and vividly intense stuff. The hybrid of Liverpudlian classicism of ageless songwriting, perky Spanish-y rhythms and haunting melodies nabs their dynamic, topped off solely via a wondrous instrumental, 'Zuton Khaarmuun' (lacking melodica this evening, somehow), and an unprepared encore - following a floor and wall-stomping demand for more - which features their innocent pop-ode, 'Remember Me'.

Mean Machine & Mairead 'Q of N' NashThe response is near-deafening and immediately deemed one of the band's finest ever appearances. Certainly, the celebs are approving - inclusive of regular Basement Club headliner Ed Harcourt, and rockfeedback-pals Jet, who turn up to the show at midnight (pictured with rockfeedback egotist, Toby L) and celebrate for a full couple of hours the excitement of their Pentonville Prison show the same night. Coupled with spun tunes from the Mean Machine (as groped by Queens Of Noize hench-lady, Mairead Nash) and members of London garage-punkers The Beatings, we're kicked out of the club at 2:15am with smiles inscribed on faces and songs in hearts.

Jet & Toby 'Tosser' LWith The Zutons having completed their debut-LP, and treating this evening as a one-off special to celebrate the fact, reintroducing themselves to the live-arena, only the pretensions of the unintelligent will hold them back. And, seeing as talent this blatant is getting showcased in all the right contexts, there seems little left to repress the global-grip that this Scally-quintet could invoke on the British and worldwide scene. You think we're shitting you? Just you wait 'til you see what we're endeavouring in earnest to reflect - for then you'll understand.

Perilously Perky, Quirky Pop

28 Aug 2003



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