RFB ROAD TRIP: Part Two - JD Roots The Horrors at Chinnery’s, Southend- 9/05/2012

04 Jul 2012

Our writer Michael Nebraska leaves Glasgow and travels down to the other end of the UK to catch The Horrors play a very special homecoming show and Southend landmark venue Chinnery's as part of the JD Roots tour for the second part of the RFB Road Trip.


Pushing against the slanted rain along the jammed, roadwork-heavy A13 on the path from London to Southend you might get to wondering how much the journey in the opposite direction meant to The Horrors when they managed to escape the seaside town of their inception in the early 2000s – a town that had spat on them in the street, mocked their cartoonish goth style and largely ignored their nascent band.

Today’s homecoming is a very different proposition to last week’s sunny, upbeat, Glasgow jaunt with the beloved Twin Atlantic – for a start the glistening sunshine is replaced with damp grey cold, the bustling city exchanged for an out of season resort and, most importantly, the poppy anthems of TA switched for the driving, doomed krautrock of The Horrors.

The elongated journey drags and culminates in the sight of windswept strip joints and terrifying looking mainstream clubs with names like Storm and Zinc lining the back of the seafront as we pull into the mostly empty car park. The arcades are beautiful ‘round front though and to be entirely honest Adventure Island looks like it would be tremendous fun in slightly more arid circumstances.

First up at Chinnery’s tonight are Clout!  Southend band that rage intelligently against normalcy, pushing against the prevailing cold winds with a flurry of ragged, driven, experimental electronica. They’ve an askew style and an unsure stance that keeps you guessing throughout their awkward and tuneful set.

The Black Belles, part of each of these homecoming bills initially by virtue of sharing Jack Daniel’s home state of Tennessee, but more legitimately because they have a rare trick of making raucous swamp blues actually sound interesting, defiant even, are semi-drunk and a whole lot of angry tonight. The sound glitches and tech difficulties along with a confusingly placid crowd rile this harsh, storming trio up into a great, savage performance. They tear through slivers of garage like ‘The Tease’ and ripe riffola like ‘Wrong Door’ with a bad attitude and one eye on glory – a legitimately interesting rock n roll proposition.

Tonight The Horrors face a packed room but a strangely ambivalent one. As they take their stadium sized sound to the small stage of Chinnery’s with blistering roars of droning psych like ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and the mighty ‘Endless Blue’ the industry suits gab away at the back, which is of course pretty near the front in this situation. Faris leads the troops through a storming take on ‘Mirror’s Image’ local metal fans and hipsters may look on but certainly offer nothing in the way of genuine encouragement.

Luckily The Horrors don’t give a fuck about any of this. They’re playing a uniformly stunning show and they’re still on the roll they’ve been following since the release of ‘Primary Colours’ in 2009. With two classic albums released in the last three years it’ll take more than a somewhat careless crowd to throw them off their form.

As ever their sound is genre-crossing, vast and all-encompassing. The almost endless drone pop of ‘Who Can Say’ rubs up against the glory of ‘Scarlet Fields’ and it’s entirely entrancing experience. They come on and play for their lives anyway, dropping a fantastically elongated ‘Moving Further Away’ as a final and long-lasting kick in the head to their audience

Riding home and imagining how the Horrors themselves may have felt on departing this town? A heady combination of relief, confusion and pride in their strength of performance regardless of tonight’s odd circumstances.   

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