It’s that time of the year again, when the wallet loses weight, the shops try to flog you anything they can, Fenwick windows has its traditional displays up and your tree is blocking part of the TV. If you haven’t guessed already, in the words of Slade ‘IT’S CHRISTMAS’. Detroit’s six piece Electric Six clearly revel in the festive season as they tour the UK every December it seems, perhaps for two reasons: to sell us CD’s and to kick off our Christmas, because in their words ‘it wouldn’t be a Christmas without an Electric Six gig in Newcastle.’
So, would this Electric Six gig represent the ushering in of the ‘cheery’ holiday season? No, not if the support act were anything to go by. The name was Andy D, and it is hard to refer to him as him and not it. This phenomenon was the worst act I have ever seen in all my gigging years and I’ve seen Jason Donovan in South Shields, singing (used hesitantly) ‘Especially For You’. Andy treated us to some dancing, rapping, parading topless, aggressive rapping, and questionable vocals that were only merely an improvement in comparison to his backing singer (his wife) whose harmonies can only be described as cat-like, that is if the feline in question had been trodden on. This would have been ok if you’d stumbled upon it on YouTube or at a circus but not ok occupying a much prized high profile support slot at a big venue. I say this because it is clear the act doesn’t take music seriously; at one point this was evident by him advising the fans to ‘look at me, when you see me, I want you to see a guy that doesn’t give a fuck’. Andy D isn’t wrong. He quite clearly doesn’t give a ‘fuck’. He raps about his wife’s sexual body parts and he refers to the way he likes his women, objectifying them in the process. For fans of music, let’s be thankful the set was short, and for the crowd that enjoyed it and that did let go of all serious thoughts as they danced with Andy D whilst he was amongst the crowd, maybe I need to take a leaf out of your book and loosen up a bit, certainly as the pressures of Christmas shopping fast approach.
As the headline set approached I became concerned that Electric Six would amount to little more than Andy D with instruments. Thankfully they were not nearly so bad. The guitarists (one being named White Wolf) effortlessly strung a period of mosh worthy riffs; matched by hard hitting drums. Each member offered (musically) years’ worth of experience and a mastered art. Frontman Dick Valentine has a comedic stage presence and unlike Andy D, he is equipped with wit and a hint of professionalism.
The songs didn’t have names this evening they were introduced as song one, then song two and then, yes you guessed it, song three all the way to song nineteen (including a two song encore). Though I did recognise the very excellent ‘Danger: High Voltage’ in there somewhere.
As the night wore on I had to ask myself: is this music, or vaudeville theatre? As Valentine declared that he was sat in town ‘looking at all the beautiful girls’ whilst checking his pocket for ‘loose change’ I thought that stuff like that should be left in the 80’s with Guns N Roses; it went far beyond the conventional way a frontman should work a crowd. I did say a ‘hint’ of professionalism.
Electric Six aren’t a bad band, they knock out some decent rock that’s infused with electronica. When they mix up these sounds is when they work best, which is why I guess it what they’re known for. Although they’ve long since lost their cool label, probably due to the fact their audience have grown up they’ve become a sort of acceptable ‘dad band’ though probably more acceptable to those less serious about their music or those who’ve had a drink or two, or nineteen.
Reviewer: Tyler Marriott
Photographer: Graeme Baty