Little Hell seem to be doing something wrong. It seems they've misunderstood their role tonight. The indifferent crowd of, it seems, record company types and accountants, are waiting either for Sunna to come out, or to be blown away by this bunch of young Turks. Instead, frontwoman Lucie Johnston stands dead centre and glares at the audience with a look of such terrifying contempt that you feel either insulted or just afraid to meet her eyes. "I don't need this shit" she seems to be saying. She may have a point. While the rest of the band leap about as much as the tiny Monarch stage allows, their choice of "Music Masochists" as a breezy opener points to their real feelings about this show. When the gloom lifts, as it does briefly on "Don't Touch The Monkeys" and the blinding "Love Makes You Come Hard," and Johnston's mood improves, we get a glimpse of Little Hell on a good day. The sauciness of Moloko meets the sound of N.Y Loose and, for all Johnston's sins on stage, the site of her helping strike the drumkit with a fag hanging out of her mouth is enough to earn her absolution.
A truly, truly wonderful album in the bag, and a room full of Industry low-lives to please means expectations are high for Sunna's performance tonight. They take to the stage, there's a hail of feedback and "I'm Not Trading" bursts gloriously from the noise. Sunna, it seems, have high expectations for their performance tonight too...
While "One Minute Science" (in stores now, kiddies,) floated in a sea of samples and loops, Harris has wisely decided to go for a more meat and two veg approach for the live shows. The band sound pleasingly more like a "metal band" than was ever apparent on the record; Ian MacLaren's and Harris' guitars are very much to the front of the mix, behind, that is, Richie "Monster" Mills' collosal drum sound - broken sticks within 4 bars. Nice!
Marring an otherwise flawless "I Miss" was a minority of the audience obviously more interested in chatting than listening to the music. The band seemed not to notice and, gratifyingly, the chatter became more and more subdued as the quality of the band became clear, in fact, the simultaneous lighting of at least thirty cigarettes as the first few bars of "7%" wafted out across the audeince seemed to suggest that most of us were on an altogether more "intimate" level.
For all the introspection and angst of Harris' lyrics, the frontman has an easy, self deprecating charm in front of an audience. "That was for any agents or managers here tonight." he quips with a wry smile after a break-neck run through current single "Power Struggle." Its also reassuring to note that despite the record company's best efforts to dress them up and give them things like "Hairstyles," the band remain a resolutely scruffy bunch of tinkers who are plainly in it more for giggles than dollars.
Its always a treat to see a band who're going to be as big as Sunna ripping up a venue as small as the Monarch with relish and charm. Their moment, trust me, is going to be very soon. Next time, bring along your hip hop friends. I guarantee they'll be buying Deftones albums before the end of the week. Oh yes.