Astute readers of this site may remember that back
in 2002 i went to see The Chameleons on their reunion tour. I thought that they played a decent set, but i maintain firm in my ambivalence towards the band. They are not bad, they have just never rocked my world.
Well, fellow Minion Brett Spaceman is a big fan, and he encouraged me to go to this show. And so, despite the presence of Tiger! Tiger! on the bill, i headed out to The EARL to catch Bird, featuring Mark Burgess of The Chameleons.
I am not fond of Tiger! Tiger! I find that they make generic rock with a vaguely garage-y vibe: a sound that seems all too common these days. And yet, they seem popular. If you watch the crowd at their shows, you will gather that a significant portion of this popularity has to do more with sex appeal than musical talent. You see, lead vocalist and guitarist Buffi makes a point of wearing short skirts and showing off her legs. Whatever -- stop strutting and ROCK dammit!
Apparently, this is the most relevant part of Tiger! Tiger!
So i actually left my Marietta home a full 35 minutes after doors opened, thinking that the delay plus my commute time would allow me to bypass the Tiger! Tiger! experience altogether. My computation assumed that The EARL would be running on time. Silly me.
When i got to The EARL, i was informed that Tiger! Tiger! had played only 3 songs, so i grabbed a pint of Sweetwater and sat back to watch, well, the legs, since that seems to be the most important part of the band... I was, again, unimpressed with the music. However, the song that they ended with featured the lead guitarist switching over to saxophone, and this slight changeup was, at least, interesting. Oh well.
Hey look -- Tiger! Tiger! from the waist up.
After Tiger! Tiger!'s legs left the stage, a group of dark clad young men began setting up a lot of pedals. That's promising, i thought.
Rescue Mission's impressive pedal array --
and this was just the lead guitarist!
They walked on stage and played some catchy, moody pop a la Interpol,
et al. The band turned out to be Rescue Mission, from Austin, TX, who were
on tour with Bird. In fact, this happened to be the last night of the tour,
and Rescue Mission decided to play a Chameleons cover. I guess they are real
fans, and opening for Mark Burgess's new band must have been a dream come true
for them. They did seem to be having a good time. Well, as you can imagine,
Mr. Burgess climbed on stage to sing a duet with the Rescue Mission vocalist
on the cover tune. I did not recognize the tune at all, which simply means
it was not originally on the one Chameleons record i own. Still, it was a pleasant
ballad sort of song, with a strong distorted breakdown in the middle.
Mark Burgess singing a duet ...
... and bemusedly watching Rescue Mission cover one of his old songs.
After that excitement, Rescue Mission ended by covering The Sound, another obscure 80's post-punk act. This tune sounded great, and i can hear a good bit of The Sound in, well, the sound of Rescue Mission. They really were rather enjoyable. If Interpol are the Joy Division of the modern post-punk revival, then Rescue Mission are The Fixx of that same revival. And before you say that's an insult -- i really liked The Fixx. They had a lot of good tunes.
Rescue Mission -- is he himself, and do we really know?
They broke down, and then at midnight sharp, Bird took the stage. Burgess's current band is a three-piece, featuring him on bass, vocals, tiny spectacles, and leather pants, with Yves Altana on guitar and synths (more on this later), and one Achim Färber on drums. I have never heard of the other two before, but they were actually very talented.
In particular, i was impressed with Herr Färber's drumming. He is a short guy who is kind of enveloped by his kit, and yet he beats the crap out of it, creating a tremendous sound. He had an interesting drumming style: loud, yet not too loud, and with many unexpected patterns. He was a pleasure to watch.
Achim Färber on drums.
M. Altana played his guitar well and chimey in a way that seems appropriate for the band featuring the former vocalist of The Chameleons. He also played synths, which he had set up with a series of pedals! It was kind of neat to watch him play guitar, stomp effects pedals and step on various synth bits to add extra sounds.
Finally, there was Mr. Burgess. In leather pants and tiny spectacles, thumping away at his bass. He's a good bassist, and his voice is naturally king of mopey in that refined British sort of way.
Mark Burgess, ex-Chameleon.
Overall, Bird played Britpop in the post New Wave vein. Pretty much what i expected of them, but i still enjoyed it. Nothing earth shattering, but not bad at all.
One funny moment i want to mention. At one point some Chameleon's fan in the crowd yelled out a request while the band was tuning. Mr. Burgess looked up over his spectacles at the guy and said, "With all due respect sir: we're not a fucking jukebox." The crowd laughed, and the situation seemed well handled.
So, once again, i find that Mr. Burgess puts on an enjoyable, if not earth-shattering, performance. I tend to have a good time when i go see him perform, so you should probably look for me the next time he plays Atlanta. I'll be the one who doesn't cheer when he does old songs, unless they happen to be from that one Chameleons record i own....