Header image by Chris Strong / Words by Natalie Philip

I would be lying vehemently if I said that I had been geared up for going to this gig, I really wasn’t, at all. This is because in the few days previously to it, I was starting to feel nothing but guilt about my feelings for headlining band, Joan of Arc. I had spent time prepping for the gig, assaulting my ears with songs from their web-based music platforms. Most of their songs, on the Life Like album and song, ‘Love Life’ in particular seemed to sound like a pale imitation of early work from The Pixies. Vocalist Tim Kinsella’s, Frank Black crossed with sleep deprived sounding warblings were a testament to this. I could only hope that seeing the band live would help me warm towards them. I was however, absolutely beside myself with excitement for support band, Hot Club De Paris, lovely local Liverpudlian lads, but this made me feel even more guilty. It was an awkward twist on reality but I sent myself to the absolutely gorgeous venue in Liverpool’s backstreets, The Kazimier with the mantra, ‘Don’t judge until you’ve seen them live.’ And I have to say I left the gig a lot less arsey then when I went in, in fact I'd go so far as to say I’d happily see them again.

Going into the wonderfully scruffy venue that was home to the night’s gig, a spritely young passer-by informed me that we had just missed most of first support band, Chrik, who were the best live performance Liverpool had seen in months. That was a tall order for the listening privileges for the rest of the city’s music scene, never mind the rest of the evening! But, catching the end of the twosome’s last instrumental based tune, I had to agree that a nice high standard had been set and I was ready to roll into Hot Club De Paris’ first number.

What a breath of fresh air these boys are, if there was ever a class on how to perform a gig half-cut and perform it really well then look no further than Hot Club. It’s not just the fun-filled energy of songs like, ‘My Little Haunting’ that make this band such a good live performance, it is so much more. It’s the snappy flicks of bass guitar and tighter than tight drumming which make up the instrumental jazz fillers between songs to funk your face off. And, it’s the off the wall, slightly strange banter which takes the place of the usual crowd-pleasing crap that bands do, that makes you sit up and take notice of what they’re doing.

If juxtaposition were a tangible entity then it would be personified by these two bands, honestly everything shifted when Joan of Arc came on stage.Their set started off with the vibe that the band is trying very hard to be odd in every way and it felt, a bit contrived. Their first song had a lengthy instrumental intro, I guess the best way to describe it would be if white noise weren’t totally unpleasant it would sound like that intro. I was just beginning to make sense of the song’s tangled nature when Kinsella’s vocals kicked in and the band lost me again. This became the theme of their rather long set. Their purely instrumental songs were actually a dream to listen to live, particularly when you notice that this band has an extremely effusive fan base. The appreciation of what were clearly long-term followers of their music was beyond endearing, and it was this that made me stop a minute and work harder on what this band are all about. There is clearly more going on to their music than just sounds, these tunes are the musical equivalency of onions and unfortunately I was too quick to call what is probably musical genius, noise. After this, I noticed a real change in the music, maybe I got used to them or maybe they liked saving their best songs for last but I was finally starting to be won over. Punchy drums and screechy guitar riffs with a gently humming bass undertone, this band create a clash of sounds, get used to it.

I listened to plenty of their songs before this gig but I rekon this is a band to go see live and then buy a CD so you can better appreciate them. This is because, live I became endeared by them, their fans and the fact that they all clearly love what they’re doing. One way or another, you will not be on the fence about this band and that’s no bad thing.

Joan of Arc, I don’t totally understand you but I’m being won over. Hot Club De Paris, call me.