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Serafin Live Review, Camden Barfly 30/07/03

Emotional finish to last night of Xfm residency from new British band, with New Disease and Future Kings of Spain as support

New Disease, the first band on, described themselves as anthemic rock when I spoke to them beforehand, and it was epic of a kind. Unfortunately, their sound just didn't fit the tiny, cramped area that is the Camden Barfly. That might be why they weren't too impressive, coming across as rather like the mediocre bastard child of AC/DC and Queens of the Stone Age. Still, they struck a few right notes obviously because some parts of the crowd responded appreciatively. The singer kept saying thanks to

the crowd for coming to see them and you got the distinct feeling that they felt very, very lucky to be there. This might also explain why the singer didn't look too comfortable of stage.

Serafin, being a not-so-well-known band, two support acts were a surprise but the Future Kings of Spain were vastly better all round. They sort of snuck up on you if you weren't paying attention as they launched into a tune with no introductions. The singer looked and sounded like he should've been in the Hives (apart from the clothes) but instead the three-piece played brash, melodic rock reminiscent of a mish-mash of bands.

All styles seemed to suit them equally but it was a shame it was so varied because it didn't give them a concrete identity. They also fit in with the venue which made the songs even better. One really odd moment was when the singer coughed and followed that will a comment of 'I think I've got tuberculosis' which had no apparent effect. But, they were very good.

However, it was obvious that people had come to see Serafin play. We waited a good 45 minutes for them to come on as they kept drifting through the crowd setting things up but it was worth the wait though. They rocked out, sounding harsher and brasher than before (supporting Feeder, that is) but this was no bad thing. Singer, Ben Fox Smith had a whine to some extent like Billy Corgan formerly of Smashing Pumpkins (not a bad thing) but the sound is much closer to 'Without You I'm Nothing' or Sleeping With Ghosts-era Placebo.

They did take a while to get warmed up sounding a bit quiet; either that or my ears have packed up. Despite that there was a heavy amount of moshing to a lot of tunes some of which were fast paced but, it was quite a varied set. Ben F.S. seemed to know half the crowd and chatted at various point with random people giving it an intimate feel of a really good gig. They were on top form.

Unsurprisingly, the audience went wild for their next single, Day by Day an immediate sort of song, which is quickly becoming a personal favourite of mine. It's a song that I can't place any comparisons on but any song that has the words 'there's something obscene in a dream' is fine by me. As I said before though, a lot of songs really did draw comparisons to slower Placebo songs like English Summer Rain and My Sweet Prince. Ace.

The bassist, Ben Ellis, seemed to be keen on standing on the bass drum for some of the songs and whilst Ben F.S. was content not to move around too much for most of the set, he and guitarist Darryn Harkness jumped around enough to make up for the whole band. Crowd interaction was high as Ben F.S. got members of the audience to pretty much hit the strings of his guitar to add to the complete chaos and confusion of feedback. It was a brilliant thing to watch and to hear.

The most memorable moment of the night was when somebody suggested the toilet as a place to meet up afterwards with the band causing a mixed reaction. The final memory of the actual gig was drummer, Ronny Growler acrobatically swinging of the lighting rig after destroying the drum kit. All in all, a really enjoyable night with plenty to remember. Superb.

Natasha Perry