The Tommys / The DethKats/  Hooker - Manchester Night & Day Café 28.12.2006

The Garish musical adventure is matched only by the dress sense of the extravagant, attitudinal psychobilly/garage rock and underpinning of punk quintet The DethKats. Technical gremlins are having their Christmas party, but the quintet uses thrust and quirkiness to avoid them. This is until a broken guitar string prevents the roving and authoritative vocalist, Death Moe from influencing proceedings with her surety and provocative leanings. Well, for a little while anyway until a borrowed guitar allows her to return to the fray.

Cocksure chemistry betwixt Baba and Death Moe spews out, reaching a climax in ‘Homewrecker’. This lyrically resentful and musically errant number gives the front pair the opportunity to produce some Katie Jane Garside and Crispin Gray (Queen Adreena), styled stage interaction. The cosmopolitan rock-out of ‘Dragula’ encapsulates the eclectic spirit of the outfit and stuns onlookers into a state intrigue, with some surreptitious feet shuffling going on to get a closer look, but still retaining a hint of wariness. A feature to the set of potential is the thrusting and free ranging percussive pull of colourful, pink haired vixen Emily Echo. Who hides behind the dramatic leanings of the front pair, working her bass drum like a shire horse to produce some power and drive in the Fred Hell and Chad Smith vein. A technical glitch free set would be quite a proposition.

Power trio, Hooker use the lofty femme vocals of Zoe and her abrasive guitar hooks to implode into a set of outsider highlighting, punk and raw rock. The mixture of sub 90 second punk/rock bullets and power ballad therapy sessions give integrity and diversity to Hooker. The downtrodden Polly Harvey with a feistier vocal shriek concealed in the grinding bass-line kicked ‘Dirty Mess’, contrasts with Zoe’s downbeat, part of the crowd persona. This makes Hooker all the more worthwhile because of this.

They say that touring changes bands and in the case of The Tommys, just before another night of inhibition releasing mayhem at the Sugar Mill in Stoke, it reduced them to a three piece as singer Jess Bell unceremoniously left the band. There was never really a question as to what was going to happen after that. In guitarist Stevie Shepperson they have someone who can easily match the spunky gnarl and stunning presence of Bell. When Shepperson takes control for ram-raiding rock opener ‘You’re Not The One’, driven with persistence and pulsation by drummer Fran Robinson, it is performed with such drive and release that it is a though Bell is stood in front of her. More importantly, the track that stands out on recent demo has lost none of its gnarl and projection.

Stirring the crowd out of its slumber at every opportunity shows that the impromptu front lass, is not going to easily surrender the role that she is already adeptly comfortable with. A Johnny Rotten strut is required for ‘Set It Off’ and it is given even more oomph, tonight. The ripping nature of Roxy Saint (whatever happened to her?) is encapsulated in ‘Gagged and Bound’ and the lighter Debbie Harry touch of ‘Freakshow’, starts to wake a crowd caught in the post Christmas slumber. The downtrodden ‘Wait In Line’, gives one of the best indications as to why these three Crewe lasses will prosper. Such is the sheer energy and impact produced buy the bulleting bass of Anna Naberrie, the floor and the bodies stood upon it shudder like jelly on the Trans-Siberian Express. Proceedings close with the oldest song in their explosive artillery ‘Fight’, setting a reflective tone and pushes out the laid back, more orthodox tones of Shepperson. It is this aspect that if built upon, could see the band not only not lose momentum because of recent events, but continue to climb in range and impact. Rock on The Tommys!

David Adair

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