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Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gig Review: Letlive - Portland Arms, Cambridge 9/9/11

The always alternative, yet surprisingly miniscule Portland venue in the mild-mannered UK city of Cambridge is rammed, front-to-back, side-to-side, with baying punters desperate to get a glimpse of the scream-machine. The extremely effective, femme fatale foursome of (3.5 out of 5) do a damned fine job of warming those check-shirted chaps and chicks up with a smouldering pop-punk play memorable for its scowls and smiles (vocalist Georgie Morrill) and blur of thundering sticks and hair (drummer Juliette Jones).

Forthwith, LA’s (4 out of 5) emerge to yelps of joy and proceed to squeeze themselves into the various nooks and crannies of the stage, leaving the front free for lantern-jawed vocalist Jason Aalon Butler to prowl back and forth like a trapped tiger. The crowd ignore the danger signs and simply launch themselves towards the band, heaving and moshing with arms raised in triumph. A few go ass-over-tit but are soon yanked back to their feet and the small floor space quickly becomes this heaving, boiling mass of bodies. Energy is expended from both band and fans, the temperature rises and clothes are quickly shed.

The noise levels are through the roof as Ryan Jay Johnson’s cacophonic bass thrum collides with Jean Nascimento’s scaling guitars and Anthony Rivera’s imploding drum beats, and still you can hear the masses yelling every word like it’s their last. Above all that it’s very much a case of Butler trying to make himself heard and through all his intense pacing and yelling he very quickly begins to wilt. During “Muther” his knees buckle, he ceases to resist any longer and simply hands the mic over to the baying masses before him. Here, the whole force of the sound becomes a little loose and parts go missing but it’s forgivable when you consider the restricted confines of the venue.

Having whisked up the setlist to add variety to the tour, the constantly billowing mop of hair that is Ryan Jay whips out his bottle-shaker mid-set to accompany the rolling snare for “Le Prologue”. It’s like one long, sucking inhalation, building and building like a pressure-cooker until, finally, the drums crack, the top blows and the crowd becomes another furious blur of swinging arms and shoving bodies. Cue “The Sick, Sick 6.8 Billion” and we have our emotional peak. Nascimento tweaks knobs at his feet to transmogrify the sound, Rivera aggressively rides his heaving crescendo and Jeff Sayhoun tries to eat the backing mic (at least until Butler evicts him from it as the crowd absorb his own). The stage invasion begins and a few of the more confident plant kisses.

The efforts leave Butler, looking pretty out of it by now, introducing “Casino Columbus” almost apologetically as he finds his happy place at the side of the stage, catching his breath. His tattooed chest heaves up and down making the pictures warp as he croons gently into the mic before he suddenly explodes back onto stage, rips down the curtains and rail and begins pawing at the steamy windows in what appears to be one last fruitless bid for freedom. Whipping round he points first at the crowd then himself, making it clear in one simple gesture how much tonight has meant to him and his band.

Also online @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/show-reviews/letlive-cambridge-uk

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