The Go-Betweens




live review



London Savoy Ballroom

RAYMONDE ARE a Mancunian noise with a ridiculous similarity to the Smiths. The vocalist has Morrisey’s range and timbre although the double-breasted suit and tier-pine are his own. The guitarist has a Marr-jangle and snap, set-off with a mop-top and surf shirt. Their songs are bedevilled by campness but enjoy a Smithsonian emotional flexing within a ‘pop song’ framework.

Jolts in texture and temp bring a variety to the overall structure, yet somehow something doesn’t quite seem right ... just when I’m thinking that perhaps a tincture of plasticity is what's required to make music sound as though it belongs in the mid-1980s, a punter yells “Jeffrey Archer” at them and I can no longer keep a straight face.

A lot of people think that The Go-Betweens write about love. They do. But their best songs provide a metaphor into a wider milieu. They've now evolved this writing into something, in the usual pop context, daringly literate. The lyrics have the evocativeness of a short story, the exactness of a screenplay, and conjure skilful images of time, place and characters in rage.

It was a joy to hear these songs per se but the pleasure was heightened by the vigour that the band brought to the playing of them. The range and dynamics of the instruments being exploited in proportion to the dexterity of the language.

A further testimony to the quality of the (mostly new) material tonight was that one never felt a yearning for older familiar things. ‘Cattle And Cane’ sounded strangely wistful and anachronistic. Which is probably what much of their back catalogue will be like when they do release the new LP – "in February or March, to be proclaimed album of the year" said Robert Forster without sounding particularly arrogant.

The Go-Betweens have attained glamour. Glamour as a magical enchantment founded on craftfulness rather than aloofness. Glamour with an egalitarian spirit. After an hour of making brilliance look easy they said goodnight with an extended working of 'Draining The Pool For You' and left with smiles both sheepish and bold.

I went to the doorman to ask for my breath back.


mick sinclair

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