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I toddled along to the Thekla in Bristol on the cold rainy Wednesday evening of the 21st November; on the promise of riches in terms of an ecclectic new band that were going to shake up the music scene in the year to come, Clock Opera. Thekla itself is quite the majestic sea vessel and it wasn’t the first time I got my sea legs – as they do shit loads of gigs there and a buy one get one free night on a Thursday called Pressure that guarantees you will make bad life choices – and mistakes a many with girls who you think are 18 – but that’s story for another time.
Doors were at 7:30 so we got there at 8 hoping to miss the majority of the support act, however, they had only just started but we thought that they might be all right as the place was all ready packed out for them. The band were called Bright Light, Bright Light and at first glance they were a relatively normal three piece band consisting of a camp lead singer, dumpy young synth player and an over-chavvy looking drummer. As soon as they jumped into their first song the energy and the feel of the gig totally blew me away. Suddenly we were in a time warp and I was back into the age where disco was in – as I watched the indie queen lead do a hazardous impression of Jack from Will and Grace as he gayed his way up and down the stage. To say that he looked, acted and sounded like the bloke out of Scissor Scissors does not even begin to describe exactly what he was doing. From his showtune hand gestures and spirit fingers I didn’t know whether to laugh or go out to the smoking area and plunge myself into the dock. The dumpy girl on synth didn’t help with her boot cut jeans and desire to copy the trendy Chopin in the XX – don’t even get me started on the drummer – simply redundant. The only props I can give him is he looked a bit like the bloke in Skins that was banging Tulisa – but even that’s not a compliment as we’ve all seen that video of her and she’s dog at blowjobs.
They played their latest song Feel It – and I suppose I did for at least a second. It was shit.
I went to the bar and was pretty much accosted by a bloke who read the shit I was writing about it on my phone and started a conversation with me by saying, “disco is coming back mate.” I felt this was more of a mission statement/threat, rather than his opinion, so I forcibly agreed and got myself a beer in.
I suppose the bottom line is that there is only so much that a monsoon of camp energy can do for a band – heads up – it’s not that much.
I’m pretty sure their last song was called Moves and the beginning of it sounded like someone was booting up a PC with Windows 98 so I went outside for a cigarette. If they are stopping in at G.A.Y in LDN on their next tour they will undoubtedly be a big hit but otherwise I can see them dying a slow but vibrant and semi colourful death.
I went outside and had a fag and some genius had worked out that if you take the “l” out of Clock Opera you get Cock Opera. If that wasn’t enough they even replaced cock with a picture of an ejaculating penis – edgy. That was the most intellectually stimulating moment of my evening to be honest.
When I came back into the hull of the boat the main feature were making their way out to the stage and the place was packed out with a heavy mixture of trendy people and old bikers – which is always a good sign at any gig. They started without an introduction but instead went straight into a song with all the hallmarks of a haunting fairground, Once And For All. My worries started here as my mate told me that this was their big song. It was mediocre. The crowd were buzzing and greeted the band with a wall of noise as they went into their second track after taking a quick break to introduce themselves.
They played Lost Buoys next, fitting as we were all floating away on a boat (undoubtedly toward the Bermuda Triangle where I would be lost in eternity listening to this song on repeat) and they went on to decribe it as the song of their tour. I thought at the time that this was a lot of pressure to put on an average song but realised when I got home that it was actually the name of the tour itself – so I felt like a bit of a prick. I felt like it could’ve swept me into a rapturous spiritial awakening if I was that way inclined but if i’m honest the choral tones ended and a slight applause was the most I could muster.
Tracks faded into each other for the next 20 minutes with the synth player taking on the contorted torso and unsatiable energy of Chris Martin fresh from a malaised hit on the crack pipe without the subliminal messages covering his hands. The cruel inanimate bass of a much greater musician dwarved the otherwise average bassist helped only toward his demise by the stalemate drummer. I would like to say that Clock Opera seemed to give a flawed offering from an out of sort band finishing off a tiresome tour – however – it wasn’t even that good.
It was at this point that the lead decided to announce (as all singers tend to do when they think they are losing the crowd) that he himself stems from Bristol and tonight is almost like coming home for him. Apparently he comes from Noel West or Nailsey – just to sum that up for you…have you ever seen Scum with Ray Winstone? Yeah, basically he reckons he’s from that kind of backdrop. Unlikely. I don’t think they had a surplus of art schools in that area.
They then hit the crowd with another unaccustomed big number — three songs from the end – as if they’d forgotten about the 150,000 views it had acclaimed on YouTube.
Coronation bells and constant showmanship from the front man whose attitude, posture and general looks were torn between Nick Grimshaw and a drugged-up messiah led the crowd into spasm for Man Made but I was not even moved into moving.
Ended only by rapturous drums and the lead picking up the guitar to caress the crowd with another untold hit. As the final strumming ended on the song the perfect gig girl walks by with the perfect perfume and BO combination and I knew I must be at a good gig. Mustn’t I? I’m drunk. This is fun isn’t it? It wasn’t.
They ended on Lesson Number 7 which left the female contingent of the crowd with the suitable amount of clit boners to share out between themselves. Last word of the night was had by the lead singer who announced that they had:
“Eaten a lot of cheese sandwiches and we’ve got a bit older — faces a bit redder. Looking forward to coming back and playing new music for you guys.”
Degenerate drums. Deperate bass. Staggered guitar. And a vocal that some would term conquering where it in fact fell short of memorable. If you like your music then you might want to just save your money and buy a keyboard and you’ll probably be spewing out this kind of shit by the weekend. Good luck.
Follow AMJ @amjeezie