Larrikin Love
With Support from The Rumble Strips
The Social, Nottingham.
Thursday 22nd June.
Live Review

Larrikin Love

Having been on a seemingly never ending road trip since the beginning of the year, Larrikin Love are probably becoming just as familiar with the country's A road and motorway networks as an AA service engineer. 'Tis just as well then that each subsequent visit to Nottingham – this is their third in little over three months – is greeted with an even greater sense of anticipation than the last one, as their popularity grows by the day.

A similar feeling can be levelled at tonight's openers The Rumble Strips, another band whose number of gigs for the year should be well into three figures by the time Big Ben calls time on 2006. More importantly, the fact they've been allowed to develop in the public arena means their musical prowess and on-stage charisma has grown in stature to a level whereby each individual member of the band could have his own fan club, and judging by the shouts of "Charlie", "Tom" and "Henry" at regular intervals, probably already has.

Not bad then for a band who've only released two very limited edition singles to date, particularly as the likes of 'No Soul', 'Motorcycle' and 'Alarm Clock' bring about the kind of call and response behaviour from band to audience and back that's normally reserved for television game shows and Catholic masses. Maybe it's the fact they sound like a more fluent Dexys or even a less incongruous Guillemots minus the too-wacky-to-be-true veneer that does it. Whatever, my advice to anyone reading this would be to go and see The Rumble Strips now while they're still playing small clubs, as their already rapid progress would suggest that this time next year they'll be headlining much bigger auditoriums than this.

As THE singles band of the last twelve months – find me anyone who doesn't already cherish the masterful quartet of 'Six Queens', 'Happy As Annie', 'Edwould' and 'Downing St. Kindling' and I'll gladly bludgeon them to a pulp using the flesh of their own ears – Larrikin Love probably feel they have a lot to live up to. And I suppose to some extent they do, because not since The Smiths back in 1982 has anyone arrived on the scene armed with such a prodigious array of potential hit records in their armoury.

What's even better is that unlike most of their current crop of contemporaries, you can actually look beyond the "hits" and find there are even more (and better) incessantly catchy tunes where they came from. In abundance, too. 'On Sussex Downs' goes from being an almost self-reflective ballad into a 2 Tone bleached ska classic at the turn of a hat, while 'Calypso' crosses more genres in three minutes than the Guinness Book Of Hit Singles does in an entire volume. Likewise the monstrous epic that is 'Silver', with its Verve-like dreamy verse and mad-as-a-hatter moshpit frenzy of a chorus. And what's more, such is the power of MySpace and it's ilk, most of the crowd already know all the songs with an alarming familiarity.

As with the support band, what really makes Larrikin Love stand out like a freshly picked daisy in the middle of a mud-ridden playing field is their undiluted charisma that sees them more than transcend their recorded performance to that of a live setting. Singer Edward Larrikin is Pro-Plus marketer's dream, all hops, skips, jumps and of course, words flow through without stopping for breath. Similarly, the rest of the band's musical virtuosity should not be undermined either, as the frantic time and chord changes occurring at regularly random intervals would need nothing less than a group of players at the very top of their game.

In fact, it's this mixture of passion, energy and vigour that makes Larrikin Love possibly the most exciting live band in UK at the moment. Still not convinced what all the fuss is about? As John Lydon once said, "Get up off your arse…"

Dom Gourlay

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