Review: Animal Noise + Felix Hagan & The Family - The Finsbury 28/6/13

Time was when the Glastonbury Festival was at the heart of the British counterculture, and time was when The Rolling Stones at least pretended to be. So on a weekend when the two came together for a televised event that was about as insurrectionary as the Jubilee flotilla, it was good to find that rock’n’roll can still be at its edgiest and most electrifying at the roots. animal

Particularly when the sounds are emanating from a group as lithe as Animal Noise, an Essex trio whose explosive rifforama powered a breathless opening segment of a Finsbury set built on furious chops and brutal beats somewhat comparable to Queens of the Stone Age - and this bunch (blond, basin-haired singer-guitarist; stoner-rock rhythm section) had the musical nous to pull it off. As the set progressed, so did Animal Noise’s flexibility, their influences diversifying as the giant of a bassist strummed, slapped and flicked at his fretboard, while the guitarist switched from chorused finger-picking to uptempo off-beat skank, linking with the tattoo-torsoed sticksman for the kind of intuitive musical interplay that sometimes only stripped-down three-pieces seem able to convey. But among all the stomping grooves and pulsing head-shakers, do the band have the hooks, the pop sensibility to pull out truly enduring tunes? The euphoric ‘Bag Of Bones’ certainly suggested they do. Crafted on to a rhythm so fresh it was verging on hardcore highlife, it was a jaw-dropping finale.

So how do you follow a band like that? Well, how about a tongue-in-cheek, theatrical Rocky Horror-tinged show from a two-tiered septet whose near-anonymous instrumentalists supply the slick foundation for a self-deprecating, classically voiced bandleader to croon operatic innuendo-laden vignettes while assisted by a pair of glamorous gothic sirens who perform melodramatic choreography and instigate audience participation that culminates in jumping into the crowd to initiate a wild, climactic dance-off? Phew. That was how Felix Hagan & The Family chose to do it, anyway. And if their performance art-cum-music-hall-revue-cum-Eric-Idleish-surrealism seemed a little incongruous on the Finsbury stage at times, it was no less entertaining for it. Just the sort of thing you could imagine going down a storm in a marquee at an innovative festival, perhaps. Eat that, Glasto.

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