Tiny Pop Presents... Satellite of Pop - Leeds, Fox & Newt - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Tiny Pop Presents... Satellite of Pop - Leeds, Fox & Newt

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2011-12-08

The night begins with an impressive solo set from Das Pain frontman, Ian McArdle. The band has garnered a reputation for intense performances; propelled by high-drama, mystery and whiskey. While tonight’s performance is certainly a shift away from the bands fuller, more confrontational sound it’s certainly no less captivating.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, an echo-machine, and an iPad loaded with loops, the sound is dark and dreamlike from the start. The chatter of the Fox & Newt audience seems to fall utterly silent as McArdle broods in the dim-spotlight of the venues stage, each darkly intriguing confessional slowly unfurling.  

Stripped of the band's murderous sonic thunder, McArdle’s songs become even more mysterious. He plays songs he’s written recently (one being penned only a few days before) and even unveils a recent Das Pain composition, ‘The Great Warden of All Good’. It’s a dark, poetic piece of songwriting, and it’s hard not to fall under a spell as McArdle sings a cryptic plea: “Let there be magic and light”.  

We get another dose of magic and light with tonight’s pop-up band, Satellite of Pop. For those still to discover the wonder that is Tiny Pop Presents, let me explain. Rachael Rix-Moore plans to form and perform with 13 different bands over the course of the year, each band representing a band from her prolific past in pop. Satellite of Pop represents a short-lived band called Satellite that Rix-Moore formed in Belfast back in 2004.

The band opens with a cover of the much-loved Twin Peaks theme, the ever-ethereal ‘Falling’. Rix-Moore becomes the drumming Julee Cruise as she sings the songs haunting central refrain, “Don’t let yourself be hurt this time”, as keyboardist Faith Radford-Lloyd recreates the songs iconic musical motif. Bassist and glockenspiel player Alice Rix-Moore is dressed in the instantly recognisable black-and-white stripes of The Red Room. Mr Lynch and Mr Badalamenti would be proud.

Tonight’s cover versions all seem like particularly bold choices, with an impressive rendition of Pulp’s ‘This is Hardcore’ standing as the dark-jewel in the Tiny Pop crown. The band turn the song into a duet and it makes thrilling sense.

The original songs are strong too, especially the woozy, brooding waltz of ‘The Museum of Lies’ (penned by guitarist Owen Radford-Lloyd). The band end with a sweet, faithful, and appropriate cover of Lou Reed classic ‘Satellite of Love’, and it’s impossible not to feel the good vibes in the room.

There’s a significant change of pace with the arrival of garage-rock four-piece The See No Evils. The band wear their influences proudly, carrying off the energetic proto-punk of The Seeds and The Sonics with aplomb. Singer Ian Burton has the kind of voice that fits the bill perfectly, delivering confident, impassioned howls that wouldn’t sound out of place on the iconic Nuggets compilation. Yet for all the band's retro-stylings and nostalgic flair, it’s their unrestrained energy that makes the show so enthralling.

Paul Jackson’s furious chord-progressions give the band their manic, barely contained edge, while the nimble rhythm section lends every two-minute blast a solid yet frantic backing. The band's set-list looks at least twice as long as the first two acts, and they hardly pause for breath between each feverishly delivered tune.

‘People of the Night’ comes on like a punkified The Doors, while new single ‘Hanging Around’ has a naggingly familiar hook that can’t help but get stuck in your head. It’s a sound we’ve heard before but when it’s delivered with this amount of passion and commitment it’s worth the revival.

The night hits its peak with the arrival of Leeds legends and all-round heroes, The Scaramanga Six. Active since the mid-90s, the band has managed to cultivate a devoted underground following while ploughing their own distinctly inventive furrow.

Tonight, the band's performance is brilliantly explosive; brother’s Paul and Steven Morricone look like their having the time of their lives as they throw themselves into each song. Steven’s unrestrained, wide-eyed hollers adding further energy to the band's impressively full-on assault.

Each song jerks into life with a wired, irrepressible energy. There’s a celebratory feel in the room and so there should be; not only is this a damn fine performance it also seems to highlight just what a success these Tiny Pop Presents gigs have become.

Despite their years on the scene (a scene of their own, of course), I’m reasonably unfamiliar with most of the band's back-catalogue (scandalous, I know). Yet, as with any great live performance, this hardly seems to matter. Some post-gig research reveals the names of a handful of highlights: the menacing rock of ‘Walk through Houses’; the surreal, Futureheads shout-along of ‘I Wear My Heart on My Sleeve’; and the perfectly defiant punk of ‘You Should Have Killed Me When You Had the Chance’ (if ever there was a song title Morrissey could steal). Pockets of sporadic dancing break out across the Fox & Newt - people really love this band.

It’s a fantastic night of bands and fun-loving, ale-slurping debauchery. I wake up on the sofa with a monumental hangover, a burnt pizza in the oven and a hand-made Nick Cave puppet inexplicably in my possession. The memories of last night’s stellar line-up are still defiantly bouncing around my aching, but grateful, cranium.  

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