Sunday 25th January 2009
Gravity is Dead
But There is Plenty to Hold On To
It is said that gravity is much weaker than it should be. They say that this is because it has the ‘other’ eleven-or-so dimensions to deal with. They say this will all be revealed once we start to get results from the Large Hadron Collider. So, to quote Laura Veirs, it does look like “Gravity is Dead”.
When the Surrey band of the same name came to the stage at The Hobgoblin, Staines last Sunday I said to myself, “Go on surprise me…make me go whoop”. And this they did.
‘Gravity is Dead’ is a local garage punk band who can achieve moments of blinding and uplifting brilliance and also plunge the wells of the purest yet darkest thoughtfulness. The heavy-ish choppy guitar sounds are insistent and tight- reaching melodic highlights at times and reminding me of vintage Lightning Seeds.
Their combined musical ability is all-too-real and the slow-burning ‘You Don’t Understand’ starts with Led Zep ‘Stairway’ type unplugged sounding chords before tapping out much more complex rhythms and building up to an intense and satisfying conclusion.
To the question, put to the audience by lead singer James, “What’s Your Name?” the answer was a feeble ‘Nigel’ hollered from the back of the room, near to the gents bogs. Then the band replied by playing an upbeat and harmonic tune with plenty of colourful melodic phrases ( more ‘Vines’ than ‘Hellacopters’ but in the same tradition as both.) Slowest song of all in the band’s scrapbook was the genteel swayer “Put Up A Fight” packed with plenty of feel-good colours and tones. A jamboree bag of the most comforting vibes.
When I slipped off to the gents, the pub’s resident-in-chief Mersey-born piss-head said to me, in his drunken state, “Tunes…they are all just tunes…and I suppose if you like tunes then you’ll like this lot.” And, even if he was not trying to be complementary, he was right.
Clean-cut Joe Williams’ lead guitarwork is insistent and threatening – think of the Swedish ‘Hives’ guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem to get the idea- but each nuance and squeak is optimized and tweaked by this ‘city-trader’ looking control-freak to get the most out of the frets. Joey Godzikowski (drums) rattles out a good solid blaze-of-glory beat without unnecessary flourishes or flamboyance. Long haired (starve a hippy) bass-player Ben Sinfield is as reliable as an Army Hummer on a dusty desert track in the Kandahar province; Muttering firmly onwards, he is not looking too hard for any trouble.
Most of the focus of the crowd is on the red-fringed centre-forward named James Tate (vocals and guitar) whose controlled aggression reminded me of a Spanish matador… gradually wearing down the prizebull (in this case the crowd) with his patient toying and exciting, yet casual, flirtations with peril. Tinkering with tragedy- he keeps the crowd t-t-tense with anticipation. And then finally, when we cannot take the intensity any more, he rises for the kill.
And so the songs continued, always played with a ribald punky edge, towards the coup de grâce conclusion of the self-titled
song ‘Gravity is Dead’ that yearns to be a major hit and is built as solidly and as proudly as the hurricane bow of an aircraft carrier. Powerful, commanding and secretly deadly.
But then, when the final stage of the performance was all but over and the faena was complete, the braying crowd started to plead for mercy and just one more, final, song. So ‘Space’, the band’s most famous track, was dusted down and presented by James as a tasty treat. It was provided as an after thought. A bit like the host of a posh dinner party forgetting the after-eight mints at the end of the meal and so offering them to the guests as they bundled, blinking, out of the front door. This song starts like the Muse song ‘Take A Bow’ and also kinda reminds me a lot of the Wolverhampton art-rockers Zoo Babylon track ‘Spaceman’ both in lyrical content and in ambition. It was a great final course but would’ve been better if served with coffee…
So, before you get too worried about losing your grip on this- or any other world, (at least for the moment) – I think you can assume that ‘gravity can hold you down… ‘