Review of Electric Six, supported by Swound! and Toby Michaels on the 23rd of November 2011 at the Ironworks.
Toby Michaels gets around a bit having played everywhere from car parks to festivals via coffee shops and colleges (still cant believe that we brought The Toby Michaels to play the corridors of Inverness College). Tonight was the first time he had played the main stage since his Stolen Order days, and he took advantage of the opportunity.
Playing, what we reckon was his best ever set, to a partisan crowd , even though they may not have heard him before, they were more than familiar with his influences and his covers.
The Metallikazoo (one of these words that we get off with spelling badly) got a good airing, despite an early mishap. Playing a Metallikazoo medley that journeyed from ‘The Final Countdown’ to the Benny Hill theme tune almost flawlessly. Electric Six Fan, John Davies, commented “that’s surreal”, no I answered, “that’s Toby Michaels”.
The final words on his set has to go the man himself whose adrenaline ridden twitter read
“I am honestly in tears, i am so buzzed and so proud of the inverness crowd tonight INVERNESS DESERVE ALL THE CREDIT FOR MY SET”
How could you possibly top Toby Michaels, arguably you can’t but it didn’t stop Notingham pop rock band of brothers Swound!, giving it their best shot. We heard similarities with The Wombats and even Weezer, whose tune ‘Buddy Holly’ came to mind on a few occasions.
Bookended by two alternative rock acts, certainly challenged the band although their antics on stage were as eccentric as we have seen. The guitarist went for a wander during the last song, resulting in him playing on the balcony and even on the main floor.
By now the crowd was more than reasonable in size, Electric Six awaited.
The intro to the band was a surprisingly intense ‘Diner’ from the Mulholland Drive soundtrack, which contrasted, obviously, with opening track ‘French Bacon’. The song was one of a clutch of new tracks from ‘Heartbeats and Brainwaves’ including ‘Gridlock’, which Valentine helpfully informed us was about being in a gridlock.
Valentine has a history for the eccentric so taking to the stage with a a turquoise cape should not have surprised us, nor should the general tongue in cheek approach for the evening.
The evening saw the band admitting to belonging to Portmahomack (we doubt this a little) and as being “Highland as Fuck” ( surely someone is printing a T-shirt with that on as we type). So much so that, the already interestingly named, Percussion World was actually Sonny Gibson and you cant get any more Scottish than Mel Gibson.The crowd of enthusiastic fans were eating out of the palms of Valentine’s hands.
There was an obvious enthusiasm for the particularly well known songs. ‘High Voltage’ saw Valentine initially letting the audience and the rest of the band enjoy the moment. It took a a few checks to reassure us that Abe Lincoln was in the building (great costume by the way) so when ‘Gaybar’ was introduced by White Wolf playing “those” chords, bouncing erupted. The final song of the set was ’Dance Commander’ commented on by some, as lacking the ‘ooomph’ of the original recording, this was a very minor blip on an energy driven night.
For us, it was ‘It Ain’t Punk Rock’, from ‘Zodiac’ that sealed the deal for us, a classic deserving of repeated radio plays but robbed of them due to the nature of “popular’” music.
A night like this clearly identifies the difference between a show and a gig,this was clearly a show, where the music and the showmanship proved a heady combination.
It will not be the first time time, this week that an American band has wowed an Inverness audience with a charismatic frontman, but you would be hard pushed to find another frontman quite as eccentric. Dick Valentine and co., take a bow.
Written by Chris Lemon
Photos by Thomas Bisset Photography
Thanks to the various invernessGiGgers whose titbits were invaluable.