The Daintees




live review


London Mean Fiddler

THE DAINTEES can draw your attention on stage in away the fail to do on record. In person they're not only a pleasantly idiosyncratic and humorous affair – tonight boasting about their 45-year-old drummer as head Daintee Martin Stephenson deflates the common conception of the pop group as a vehicle for individual/corporate egos by his brisk repartee and general self-mocking manner – but also beneath the surface clowning, they offer something more substantial.

Never having actively witnessed the combo previously, these unsuspected qualities came as a surprise. The songs opened up and flowered, let their otherwise submerged ironies become accessible and the entire set arranged itself into a catalogue of simple but perceptive observations.

Stephenson announcing virtually each piece with a description of the circumstances surrounding it composition, something also be found on the sleeve to their new LP, which compounds the theory that the Daintees material all forms a kind of chronicle, a handful of pages plucked from a personal journal.

Be it concerning lesbianism, alcoholism, foetal miscarriages (and other subjects not too commonly found draped around a nicely-formed tune) they achieve a singular but always humane and convincing viewpoint. Elsewhere they may simply let profound frustration ooze out in obvious style by wailing about floating on a "boat to Bolivia" – Bolivia being a land-locked country.

None of this had ever been apparent to me on cursory hearings of their records. Maybe this is why most of their audience seems to be imported acquaintances from the Northeast. Stephenson enthusiastically introduces almost every other song as a "classic". And perhaps they are. But it's a shame so few are ever likely to know.


mick sinclair

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