Monkey Steals The Drum, SuperElectric, Rio 6:
Circuit Tour

Promoted by the excellent Circuit magazine and Manchester's Charabanc team, tonight is the first leg of a musical take on the triangular tournament so beloved of the Test Cricketing nations these days. Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool all offer up one of their finest, taking it to all three cities in turn, with the hometown heroes headlining in each city.

But first, an acoustic interlude. Baxta, in fact. With one voice, one guitar acts, its all down to the torso — guts, lungs, and broken hearts. Baxta passes on all counts. With a voice Eagle Eye Cherry would kill for, and reminiscent of The The after half an anger management course, he ably demonstrated that the new Lomax is a far kinder environment for acoustic acts than the Cumberland Street ever was.

Keyboards, guitars, shag-me vocalist and dj in unfortunate hat. Leeds’ SuperElectric. A modern classic. The singer is their secret weapon — the shape throwing of Jarvis, the eyes of Tim Burgess, and the voice midway between Marilyn Manson meets Morrisey, like sliding down a rockface smeared in honey.

These are songs written — and delivered — with assuarance; the sexy bastard will know exactly what bits the 2002 Glastonbury crowd will sing back at him. Meanwhile, his control is underwired by tunes that trap the children of pop in a newrock prison. Leeds take an early advantage.

‘This isn't up to our usual standard' apologises Rio 6's frontman, 'it's this guitar.' Unfair to judge a band too harshly if they're caught on a bum steer, but a lingering suspiscion remains that, even without technical difficulties, there's not a great deal here to work with. From Manchester, the band quickly lose a promisingly scary vocoder intro and turn into the sort of band you imagine Simon Mayo would front - powerful, crisp, but with the taint of untaintedness. The set feels like it consists entirely of opening verses from Beautiful South songs.

Finally, the home team. Monkey Steals The Drum are all Black Francis having a crack at the Space songbook. While not especially novel - Norwich's Jacobs Mouse were ploughing a similar furrow back when Thatcher was still Prime Minister - at least MSTD have chosen to cultivate a different patch from most of their peers, and are producing some fine results doing so. The noise never overwhelms the music, and the humour never overwhelms the feeling. They might be monkeys, but they're sure not turkeys.

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Lomax 14/06/00