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Camden Underworld, London 30 November 2009
never really pushed my prog-preferring buttons. Too posey, too shallow,
too up its own to merit my attention; even during the pre-grunge gory days
of bands of rimmelled-up lite metal pretty boys.
Crue and GnR had decent songs, attitude and stage craft that marked them
out from the pack, but I regarded the majority as a steaming cesspool of
So I don't
know what possessed me to venture out on the coldest night of the year so
far to the frozen cultural tundra of Camden Township to witness 90s
coulda-shoulda-made-it band, Vain?
Was it the
addled GnR connection? The allure of a mystical second album only released
in Japan? Or just morbid curiosity whether a so-blatantly named vocalist
would live up to his label ?
As the band
took the stage, all guyliner and goatees, bandanas and bare-chests, my
negative preconceptions were further reinforced and I prepared myself for
an hour of aural toil.
How I was
wrong! Davy is a down-to-earth and engaging front man with a strong
voice that has survived the ravages of sleazy living for over 20 years.
with tales of life on the road, I loved the one about the band being so
broke that gravy mix became their stock meal; as well as the story about
romantic yearnings for 'momma hugs' on the tour bus.
won over even the ambulance chasers in the audience. But to be sure, this
was no car crash, this was 90 minutes of great hooky songs in the best
tradition, performed with relish by a band of Santa Rosa brothers that
have reunited to show all the wannabes that you can be glam and sleazy as
hell but have musical integrity.
It's a shame
that the fickle hand of fate didn't grant them a longer stay in the
Californian sun. Unlike many good-time party bands, there's no weak link
in the classic line-up, and the whole band performs as a finely tuned and
that my first exposure to their music was 2 days before the gig, yet the
songs sounded familiar and fresh live, is testament to why Vain have
outlasted and stand-out from most of their peers.
some great light and shade to their set-list, with the slow groove of
'Smoke and shadows' being a particular standout among the fanboy faves
'Bite the bullet' and of course 'No respect'
Even if you
probably think these songs are about you, don't call Mr Radar or Mr Wrong,
just call Mr Vain.
(and source album): Secret (NR) / Love drug (ATS) / Push me over (IFOON) /
Down for the third time (NR) / Dee Dee (Glad she's gone) (F) / Who's
watching you (NR) / Smoke and shadows (NR) / So free now (OTL) / Cover me
(just one more time) (OTL)/ 1000 degrees (NR) / No respect (NR) / Beat the
bullet (NR) ENCORE: Breakdown (MOI) / Ready (NR)
OTL = ON THE
LINE (2005) IFOON = IN FROM OUT OF NOWHERE (2000) F = FADE (1995) MOI =
MOVE ON IT (1994) ATS = ALL THOSE STRANGERS (1992) NR = NO RESPECT (1989)
photos by Andy Rawll
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