Friday, March 20, 2009

Joe Gideon and the Shark, Ice Black Birds - Freebutt, Brighton

Isn't it nice to see a brother and sister getting along? It's especially touching to witness a creative collaboration between siblings that doesn't descend into the realms of the gimmicky or twee. The hotly-tipped brother-sister act Joe Gideon and the Shark played an electric set at Brighton's Freebutt last Wednesday night (apparently their first ever headline gig), proving that it is possible for a band to be talented, hip and related. A definite familial chemistry crackled off the pair as they rocked out the intimate dive venue with their haunting anecdotal country-tinged post-rock epics. 

Blessed with the sonorous vocal chords of Johnny Cash and the wistful delivery of Leonard Cohen, Joe's half-sung, half-uttered renditions are toe-curlingly cool. Younger sister Viva, aka "The Shark" (pictured) excels on both percussion and keys (sometimes both at the same time), whilst also twiddling various looping/fx trickery knobs and providing backing vocals. Plying their talents with equal parts precision and abandon, the dramatic duo held the small but appreciative Brighton audience in thrall throughout the set.

A youthfully enthusiastic support band, Ice Black Birds, had got us going with some Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-inspired high-energy blues-rock. Good value photographically, their exuberant stage moves reminded me of that other (excellent) arseless boyish ensemble, Foals. Natural successors to the Brel/Beefheart/Cave tradition of brooding cabaret art-rock, Joe Gideon and the Shark's darker, subtler offering proved the perfect contrast, though no less energetic in its own way. Comparisons with The White Stripes are inevitable, and not entirely unfounded; both bands exude a certain kindred cliqueyness that shines through in their music, both use lo-fi techniques to make big brash rock 'n roll noises. The stand-out track of the night for me was Kathy Ray, the (allegedly) true story of an ageing backing singer, dripping with the sultry deep-South sentiments of Tony Joe White's High Sheriff Of Calhoun Parrishor Bobbie Gentry's Fancy, but with an unexpected psychedelic twist. Spangly, stirring, inspirational stuff.

Joe Gideon and The Shark's Debut Album, Harum Scarumis just released. They'll be back in Brighton for the Great Escape Festival in May - don't miss it!


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