June 18, 2024

The Loveless – Live in Leeds – “the venue explodes with happiness”

Live at The Old Woollen, Farsley      16th December 2023

I thought most of the crowd were there to see British true original, Marc Almond until The Loveless played ‘Love Missile F1-11’ and the cameras were held high. Looks like ‘Sigue Sigue Sputnik’ inspire a lot of love and Neal X, guitarist of the band must be chuffed. This is his joint project with Marc and with Iggy Pop’s touring rhythm section – a crunchy garage band playing unsophisticated, energetic and fun covers. Is it a covers band? Is it a vanity project? Is it art? I don’t think they care; it’s fun.

Marc has trodden his own path from Soft Cell’s sleazy synth-pop into chanson, cabaret, symphonic pop, Russian choral melodies and elsewhere. Yet, here he is fronting a garage band playing a mix of covers and originals. He does the emoting and vocals but strong, choppy guitar chops from Neal X lead the sound just as much. Song’s like The 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘You’re Going To Miss Me’ rely on the Who-ish (‘Can’t Explain’) punchy guitar riff.

Delightfully, even the originals sound like covers of lost sixties angst pop. Of ‘Sticks and Stones’ he says; “Some call it plagiarism, we call it tribute”. He takes a while to warm up but by ‘The Dream In My Mind’, he’s having fun, complaining of a dry sound to his vocals: “Wet that vocal”, he tells the sound desk. “If I could love, I’d love you all” he offers after an original; ‘Nothing At All’.

Covers start off with the brilliantly obscure. The Shadows Of Knight were little known outside Chicago in the Sixties and ‘Dark Side’ is a b-side, we get a Kinks b-side, and ‘Hot, Hard and Ready’ could almost be a spoof, except it’s a super-obscure gay seventies song by Smokey (not the Bradford popsters), about a hot, hard and heavy motorbike and a dark alley. He’s got a ton of steel between his legs, greased up and ready. He smiles, savouring the innuendo. Things are groovy by now and we swing into a triptych of Alice Cooper songs where excitement leads to a drop into ‘Suffragette City’s chorus – cue Marc gently poking fun at himself at the ad lib.

This begins a journey into the Seventies with Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’, a heavy version of ‘20th Century Boy’ and the gloriously silly ‘Ballroom Blitz’, with both front men belting the vocals with energy and fun. Finally the band are about to leave, and it’s not on the set list, but Almond says seeing as it us….. and the band go into the unmistakable intro to ‘Sex Dwarf’. That’s what everyone wanted to hear and the venue explodes with happiness. When the lights come up for the goodbyes Marc looks like he’s dropped twenty years – smiling and ebullient; he has clearly had a good time.


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