!!! - The Cockpit, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

!!! - The Cockpit, Leeds

by Rich Morris Rating: Release Date:

Following the sudden and tragic death of drummer Jerry Fuchs in November 2009, !!! pulled it together and released Strange Weather, Isn't it?, one of their strongest efforts to date. So it's great to see that they're such a tight, intuitive unit on stage tonight. However, frontman Nic Offer's truly abysmal dancing is still an impediment to enjoying their punk-funk sound live. As he prances around the stage, wiggling his bum and pouting like he thinks he's Jim Morrison, he's genuinely difficult to look at, and Soundblab can't help but notice that our appreciation of !!!'s music improves dramatically when we avert our eyes from his preening, clod-footed lizard king act. It does a band which deals primarily in funky grooves no favours that their frontman can't dance to save his life. Thankfully, backup singer Shannon Funchess has enough stage presence for two, moving like a dynamo and looking fantastic in beret and sleeveless t-shirt. Also, Offer spends plenty of time in the crowd, leaving to band to play solidly and intensely in his absence.

The band plough expertly through new tracks such as 'Wannagain Wannagain' and 'Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass' early on but things don't really come alive until they hit classic track 'Heart of Hearts', which gets a blistering live treatment. When they return for the encore, a shirtless and astonishingly sweaty Offer shows off his Obama pants and tells us about a random meeting with his idol Holly Johnson's brother in a Liverpool cab which led to getting an email from the former Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman. The band then treats us to scorching, perfectly rendered cover of 'Relax', made all the more impressive by the fact they only put it together in the last 24 hours. They should release it as a single. As members switch nimbly between synths, brass and percussion, there's no doubting the musical dexterity of this band. Nor - despite his woeful moves - can you fail to be won over by the sheer enthusiasm of Offer. An Offer you can't refuse? No, forget Soundblab attempted that pun.

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