The Crimea @
It is apparent just by looking at the charts that there is no justice in the music world. While James Blunt tops the charts on both sides of the Atlantic with his cynical, mawkish ballads, bands like The Crimea toil on the pub circuit.
However, tonight the "intimate" Charlotte is rammed with punters who have come to hear some of the finest, dreamy pop-rock Britain can boast. Formed from the remnants of indie nearly men The Crocketts, The Crimea have crafted songs that veer from child-like infectious singalongs, ("Lottery Winners On Acid"), to apocalyptic meltdowns which crescendo with singer Davey McManus' piercing screams ("Someone's Crying").
Live, these songs become bigger, so big that they threaten to lift the roof off the tiny venue. Davey McManus, all angles and weird dance moves comes off like a younger Michael Stipe, and the R.E.M. influence can be heard on the should-be stadium filler "White Russian Galaxy". As kinetic as he is during the songs, his between song banter consists of ramblings about McDonalds and he shifts from foot to foot and stares wildly into the mid-distance. You're not going to see this kind of spectacle at your local Enormo-Dome when Team Blunt comes to town.
But despite his Michael-Stipe-on-speed/ eight year old boy on Christmas Day demeanour, McManus' lyrics are imbued with a sense of world-weariness and hopelessness. This is best illustrated on the catchy-as-hell Bad Vibrations, which gets an uproarious reception from the diehards tonight. A cartoonish riff by guitarist Andy Norton is offset by McManus' croaky delivery of lines like,
All this talk about love and peace/ Doesn't make much sense to this old soldier
Although McManus' American accent grates at times, it is easy to forgive when it is framed by a perfectly skewed pop song like this, and over the course of the night, The Crimea deliver many more examples of perfect skewed pop, each one clinging to your subconscious long after your ears have stopped ringing.
McManus ends the set in the middle of the crowd, crooning darkly into the mic while around the stage bubbles shoot from the tops of the amps, a pretty aesthetic to a darker undercurrent, this is what The Crimea are all about.Tonight's show started with the sounds of a newborn baby crying, and ended with a disembodied voice ruminating about death. While The Crimea don't cover every facet of life in their songs like this may suggest, yours will certainly be better after seeing them live, and their joyous ditties might yet give you hope that there is life after Blunt.