The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, Monday 4 April 2011
The Brudenell's packed out tonight and you can spot many people who look like this will be one of only a few gigs they attend this year. There's little doubt that word has got round about just how great a live presence Dum Dum Girls are. Before the girls take the stage, however, we get Mazes, a London-based band who mix 70s West Coast vibes with 90s alt-rock fuzz. They're picking up a bit of buzz themselves, although it's hard to work out why. Songs such as 'Bowie Knives' and 'Cenetaph' (sic) are crushingly trad and banal and, stripped of the artfully lo-fi sound of their recordings, they just sound like an AOR rock band noddling away on snooze. The most arresting thing about Mazes is the bassist's look, which appears to combine the styles of Wayne's World's Wayne and Garth in equal measure. It's strangely compelling to behold, and he is to be applauded for his dedication to the 90s metal-slacker look. Did I say applauded? I meant sectioned.
Dum Dum Girls, as always, look fantastic as they take the stage and launch straight into ace recent single 'He Gets Me High'. It's a great track to kick off with but somehow it seems to lack the necessary wallop tonight. Never mind, because the group still have plenty of great songs up their (black, diaphanous) sleeves, including 'Bhang, Bhang, I'm a Burn Out', 'Jail La La', 'Everybody's Out' and 'I Will Be', each one an explosion of instant hooks, buzz-saw guitar and great stage moves. New material is deployed sparingly so it's hard to say what the band's second album may sound like, but it's safe to say there's been no major reinvention of sound here.
Despite turning out a sparkling performance, the reaction from the crowd isn't overwhelming. Most people seem content to watch from the back slurping beer. That changes when the band return for the encore and blast out a cover of The Smiths' 'There is a Light That Never Goes Out'. The band's interpretation is bracingly raw and hungry, Dee Dee snarling out the lyrics with a stalkerish intensity which makes the intimations of double suicide in the chorus sound less like wishful thinking and more like a promise. The crowd rightly goes wild as the four ladies swagger off stage, queens of the night, undisputed queens of rock 'n' roll cool.