Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Ariel Pink Live

Scala, Kings Cross - 15/06/10

Anyone who has followed the music press coverage and myth making surrounding Ariel Pink would be forgiven for imagining him living in a bedroom haze, surrounded by redundant, dust gathering games consoles, worn out VHS tapes and a shit load of vintage equipment. I picture him only surfacing to open his bedroom door and snatch the toasted cheese sandwiches his mother dutifully leaves out for him.

But tonight’s Ariel Pink is a fully formed performer, brimming with an alternative-universe-stage-school confidence that betrays his reputation as a lone traveller through music’s forgotten cosmos. At times he conjures the ‘drunk grandma in her best heels’ vibe of vintage David Johansson, the hair lashing intensity of eighties Ozzy Ozbourne and strangest of all, the troll like physical comedy of Bill Bailey.

He is funny, intoxicating (and obviously intoxicated) and whilst he is clearly daft as a brush, it’s easy to be swept along by the energy he and the band expend on behalf of having a good time. Throughout tonight’s set, the group mine just about every left of centre genre you can imagine, creating a disorientating, schizo feeling in the room, as if someone keeps turning the dial on the radio (or flicking the channel, considering AP’s clear love for forgotten TV show themes) streaming thirty second blasts of wild rock n roll, 80’s funk, sugary 60’s sunshine pop and pompous 70’s glam into the room, and that’s just the first song.

The man’s voice is pretty special too, when you listen to the record and hear all the strange vocal snippets that sound like samples, they’re actually all sang live by Ariel and the group, who bust harmonies like some kind of ‘Galaxy High’ version of Fleet Foxes. One minute he’s scaling the heights of his range on the prom night smooth Fright Night (Nevermore), the next conjuring Iggy with equal abandon on Little Wig, all the while never dissolving the music in parody or his persona into pastiche.

Two encores later the crowd have been treated to some choice cuts from new record Before Today (alas no Can’t Hear My Eyes or Beverly Kills) and plenty of fleshed out early recordings, the highlight of which, Kate I Wait, with its awkward time signatures tackled nobly by the group, proves the perfectly odd end to a memorable evening.

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