Cold War Kids
I have been waiting for the Cold War Kids concert since July when I rushed to buy the ticket before they sold out. It was my emotional response to a catchy song played live on BBC.
In the meantime I got the album, Robbers and Cowards, on sale for a fiver at HMV which I think is a fair price for a debut. Since then though, my enthusiasm declined.
Cold War Kids LP opens with 2 terrific tracks: We used to vacations and Hang me up to dry, then weakens. Two additional good tracks materialize midway through: Saint John and Hospital beds, after that nothing until the agonizing lament in a “I wish I was Jeff Buckley” attempt, hidden in the last track.
(For the very same reasons that my friends at thelineofthebestfit.com pointed out, I am ready to start or sign a petition for the banning of hidden tracks).
You may argue four good tunes on a debut is not that bad.
Partially true, probably is the big quality gap between those songs and the rest of the album that annoys me. We live in the mp3 “download a single” era. Albums are too often a pair of singles decorated with a dozen of quite useless fillers.
To make their life even more complicate, Cold War Kids let open their Shepherds Bush gig to a surprising wonderful Patrick Watson set, bookmark this site I’ll review him in few days.
9.45 PM, a promising string trio steps on stage sitting on the backside, a bit isolated, then Cold War Kids enter, quite cold more than cool; something I would expect from a Midlands act not from a Long Beach band. My excuse is because, albeit Californians, they met at a Christian Evangelical church!
The 2 violins and cello fail to highlight the first two songs, not their fault, the concert brightens up only on the third, when Nathan Willet sits on a piano and set alight the venue up to the third level with the thrilling We used to vacation. First good song, but it’s just a burst.
A long, pale section follows before Hospital beds is played midway through the set in complete darkness with the band lighting the audience with some torches. Nice atmosphere and second nice tune. Two more to go, but we have to pass yet again through another pretty uninspired part.
Finally Hang me up to dry arrives causing a upsurge of mass hysteria. It is quite visibly the audience’s favourite download. That was also the catchy tune with which they impressed me on the TV show. For obscure reasons its pulsing rhythm reminds me of the Gossip guitar riff in Standing in the way of control moved to a bass line.
Crowd is hot enough, the concert closes with a brand new song, a brave move. I didn’t catch the title (if you did, please let me know) but it was actually not bad.
Three so far. Anyone who can count, knows that there is one missing.
Joined by guitarist and drummer from Patrick Watson band to help causing a controlled chaos on stage, Saint John closes the event in style. Nathan Willet relentlessly begging is mercy:
“…all us boys on death row,
we’re just waiting for a pardon…”
on a mayhem of percussion, piano and cacophonous distortion is the best moment of the night.
If there was an empty space in the indie dictionary it’s because was waiting for the right track. Time to use it now, Saint John is the first example of “indie-gospel”, such a “godly, divine” song.
I must confess in that moment I missed Patti Smith’s sins, but this is personal, not a judgement. Try to live 30 years 3 miles from the Vatican walls then come back to me and let’s discuss about forgiveness.
It must have been distressing to the Cold War Kids that the White Stripes cancelled the leg of the tour they were due to support. It would have been an influential learning experience. Willet singing is a mix of Jack White high pitch with Jeff Buckley howling vibrato, his dissonant “swordfishtrombone like” piano excursions are quite effective and, considering Tom Waits doesn’t tour a lot, would be useful to meet Jack White creativity. As well as any other guitarist this century, Johnny Russel would benefit from Jack too. In fact the hollow drumming of Matt Aveiro made a positive impact throughout the set hence he, on the other hand, would be helpful to Meg!
I finish with a simple, private question for the bass player: why were you wearing a Birthday Party T-Shirt? Oh no, don’t tell me, please no…isn’t it because the Devil is breaking through the souls of these evangelical rockers? Oh my Lord!