Monday 28 May 2007

Modest Mouse, Rock City

Modest Mouse are a new band to me, although they've been around for quite a few years.

They have a sound that I reckon is a cross between Talking Heads and the Pixies but with a host of other influences thrown in as well. Apparently their name is derived from a passage in a Virginia Woolf story "...and very frequent even in the minds of modest mouse-coloured people..." modest mouse-coloured people? What does that mean?

The bands main claim to fame of late has been the addition of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and some people are obviously there just to see Marr because many appear to drift away when the music turns out to be light years away from what they were expecting. It's their loss because tonight Marr is good, his head nodding along to the beat, which belted out by the band’s two drummers.

The band also uses several bass guitars, including a double bass, as well throwing trumpets and accordions into the mix as well. At one stage with everyone else occupied on an instrument a roadie picks up the bass for one song. On another the bass player disappears all together.

There's an awful lot going on onstage but nothing though can upstage lead vocalist Isaac Brock. You can tell he really wants to be Black Francis by his mannerisms and the way he barks half his lines. In truth he is more Black Francis than the real McCoy is these days. There's an awful lot of banter from Brock between songs that I can't hear much of it despite the fact that L has reserved us a really good spot.

The polished finish of much of the stuff on the new album is stripped off tonight and songs such as the single Dashboard sound better for it. The biggest cheer is for the bands 'hit' of a few years ago Float On, which proves that the audience are not there just because of Marr's presence. Towards the end a fan (male) storms the stage to kiss Marr on the cheek; nobody dare attempt to kiss Brock.

It's a good gig, although I can't help feeling that if they laid off on the drum and bass a bit the songs might have shone though a bit more.

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