vendredi, novembre 19, 2004

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Brixton Academy, London

By Steve Hands

19 November 2004

In the final analysis, there may be little new about the latest New Wave, but the authentic New York rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs play like they couldn't care less. What's more, most of the audience looks too young to tell their Television from their Sonic Youth.

The trio of Karen O, Brian Chase and Nick Zinner could be the bold experiment of a punk Dr Frankenstein, determined to distil the arty abrasion, diverted lust and intuitive energy of that oft-referenced era into three archetypes. The guitarist Zinner is rock'n'roll skinny, while Chase's disconcerting, suspicious spectacles belie his bedrock backbeat. With drumsticks the length of shotguns, the relentless Chase even provides fills for the interludes.

Still, hovering somewhere between an absurdist Iggy and camp Ziggy, O is the star of the show. Whether revelling in the staccato blast of "Y Control", the energy of "Date with the Night", or the come-down of "Modern Romance", O is the kind of female lead singer that was rare before punk attempted to redress gender roles.

Taking the stage in unlikely schoolmistress chic, O disrobes for a strutting "Black Tongue". What stands revealed is a comic-book concoction of skeletal prints and frantic tassels, of which the singer takes full advantage with a series of Joker-like gurning and demented spinning. In full flow, O resembles how Shelley Duvall may have looked if her character had been cast as the psychotic in The Shining.

The versatile Zinner is as comfortable with Bo Diddley-shuffling as metallic riffing. Most Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs have the manners not to overstay their welcome, but the slow build of "Cheated Heart" skirts mightily close to self-indulgence when even the moshing faithful begin to look longingly at the bar.

Just when it looks as if the momentum had been lost, the band bravely tackles the slow-burning "Maps". Obtusely affectionate, "Maps" is to the repertoire of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs what "Gigantic" was to the Pixies - a glorious submission to the romantic.

A searing "Date with the Night" restores full visceral order, a hardcore, yet somehow goofy party anthem. Karen O's bubblegum lyrics are as artful as Zinner's circular melodies. Many of her one-line catchphrases scan like perverse advertising straplines. Lines such as "I gotta man that makes me wanna kill" ("Man"), and "Boy, you're just a stupid bitch/ Girl, you're just a no-good dick" ("Black Tongue") stick in the memory as easily as Bazooka Joe to crazy paving.

When not in slogan-slinging mode, Karen O punctuates Chase's frantic stomp with a series of yelps, murmurs and squeals that communicate as much pose and attitude as the gonzo put-downs. Of course, it's not be taken seriously. The sheer, invitational delight on Karen's face as Zinner unleashes the irresistible blare of "Y Control" is confirmation that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are an old-fashioned, good-time rock'n'roll band. Albeit one created in laboratory conditions.

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd