Posted in music on October 18, 2009

by Martin Longley
Friday's gig's sold out, although in the new Knitting Factory this still means that we're not feeling claustrophobic. Still room to move. It's like a mini-history of London punk, with former Slits singer/guitarist Viv Albertine playing a completely solo opening set that feels like it's half monologue as she recalls the days of platonically sharing a bed with Sid Vicious and getting her one-time heroin fix from Johnny Thunders. Mother sits you on her knee, to tell you tales of the old days, but few bedtime stories tend to inhabit such a nihilistic world. The rules of punk are explained, and Albertine's anecdotes come across as a mixture of naîve wonderment and epic sleaze: there's something very strange about this legend-making material becoming a thing of thirty-plus year-old history. Sadly, Albertine's tinny-guitared songs are quite basic and uninspiring, but the massive Slits legacy is indeed a difficult songbook to match.

Albertine fares much better later, guesting with The Raincoats to play "Adventures Close To Home", which was originally a Slits ditty. This is the climax of a short US tour, coinciding with the reissue of the band's ultra-classic 1979 debut album. Predictably, it's these songs that provide the highlights, played in an authentically raw fashion, as if they were scrawled out only a few days previously. The face-painted Raincoats emanate sheer inclusive bonhomie, ebulliently bouncing and bounding. Gina Birch and Ana Da Silva swap vocals and guitars, whilst Anne Wood jumps around gleefully as she bows with a fierce attack to her sawtooth violin riffing.

Vice Cooler's drumming is almost too professionally session-istic, but we can't really argue with the added thunder-power he provides. There's "No One's Little Girl", with its eeeek-ing violin/vocal harmonies, and the minor fluff of "Babydog" from their fleeting 1996 revival. The true classics, though, are "No Side To Fall In", "Fairytale In The Supermarket", "No Looking" and "Lola", all delivered as a multi-vocalled rabble. The Raincoats remain completely committed, still in touch with their original ramshackle energy-forces.

Check out a video from Viv's set, below...



Comments (7)


Viv Albertine

I Don't Believe / In Love
Never Come
The False Heart
Hookup Girl
Confessions of a MILF

The Raincoats

No Side to Fall In
No Looking
You're a Million
Shouting Out Loud
Don't Be Mean
I Keep Walking
Baby Dog
Only Loved At Night
No One's Little Girl
The Void
Adventures Close To Home
In Love
Fairytale in the Supermaket

Posted by Joly | October 19, 2009 1:19 AM

I *really* enjoyed this show.

Posted by Half Chemical | October 19, 2009 10:18 AM

The show was awesome! A really special night!!!!

Posted by kristin | October 19, 2009 11:00 AM

Just reading this review I felt compelled to write something. I just wanted to say, "Isn't it funny that when you know something about a subject, and then read what a journalist has to say, you realise that what is written is most often only partially factually correct. History is made up of mistruths and misremembered events".
For example Palmolive wrote Adventures Close to Home at the time she was thrown out of the Slits but Tessa Politt still in the Slits really wanted to sing it although Palmolive had brought it to the Raincoats. No-one Little Girl was the first song I ever wrote in 1978, although it was recorded in the early 80s.
As for the partial fluff of Babydog, I hope that if the journalist and his partner ever try and fail to conceive a child they realise that the subject is highly serious, emotional and terrifying.
Vice Cooler's drumming is so not sessionistic either. Are you mad or did you just keep your earplugs in?!
Try harder next time Martin or maybe just stay in and do your homework!

Posted by gina birch | October 19, 2009 1:42 PM

Wonderful comment Gina! Friday night was amazing. Viv was a revelation for me and The Raincoats and Soft Power were glorious.

Posted by Kati | October 20, 2009 8:32 PM

Wow, are you way off the mark about Viv's songs. I enjoyed them during the set and liked the EP versions even more. She offers a perspective that's rarely if ever expressed in popular music, and in such an articulate, gut-wrenching way. I can't wait to hear more of her solo work.

And your comments about the Raincoats reflect your ignorance, but Gina beautifully responded to those remarks.

Posted by Deanna | October 21, 2009 6:02 PM

asobi seksu's singer looks hot.

Posted by دليل | March 26, 2010 12:38 PM

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