Strolling around Newcastle before the gig, perma-dapper frontman Dick Valentine heard that word on the street is “people say Electric Six aren’t cool anymore”.
Over ten years on from their breakout success with debut album “Fire” – featuring on-arrival-classics “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” – anyone would be forgiven for letting the band slip off their radar.
So with an underdog mindset, eleven full length albums, and an even greater number of lineup changes under their belt, Valentine and the latest incarnation of Electric Six landed at the Academy for a raucous set in front of a crowd of effervescent Geordies.
the famously genre-bending bunch nailed the gig with all of the spiky energy of a new band with something to prove
All slicked-back hair and murderous intent, Valentine sailed between deadpan stage presence and warm raconteur, announcing the exact set number of every song and its availability on “the albums” like some peculiarly vampiric administrator, effortlessly slamming some persistently vibrant hecklers, and inviting all of the women in the crowd to leave the city tonight and start a new life with the band, starting in Birmingham the next day. That’s a hell of an offer.
Kicked off in stellar form with blisteringly synthy opening support from Georgia funkhounds Yip Deceiver, Electric Six blasted through a near victory-lap across their whole discography, throwing down “It’s Horse Shit”, “Roulette”, “She’s White” and “Dime, Dime, Penny, Dime”, cannily tossing off their mainstream crowdpleasers halfway through the show, and returning to close the night with the archly-anthemic “I Buy the Drugs”.
Valentine remains a gratifyingly mesmerising frontman
The famously genre-bending bunch nailed the gig with all of the spiky energy of a new band with something to prove. Valentine remains a gratifyingly mesmerising frontman, his iconic and unmistakable faux-prim shredded vocals if anything improving over time with just a hint more gravel in there, and the latest lineup of the band (now with only keyboardist Tait Nucleus? and Valentine himself remaining from the Detroit-spawned original crew) tearing up tunes old and new, whipping the room into a sustained punky reverie.
Batting back an early offbeat heckle about the recent terrorist attack in the middle of a gig at the Paris Bataclan Theatre, Valentine proudly announced that “There’s no terror here. This is Newcastle, those things don’t happen here” to rapturous applause, accidentally bringing the packed room together in a spirit of sustained musical solidarity that made the rest of the night fly.
So long may they continue. Because cool they definitely remain, whatever the word on the street.
Leigh Venus at O2 Academy, 1 December 2015
Originally published at Narc Magazine Online