Monday, January 14

REViEW// Neils Children &c.; DICE CLUB

13th January 2008;; Despite the several new club nights that crop up every month to play the more interesting side of music, The Dice Club remains one of London's best for a wide range of music from the last fifty years, and also for its live lineups. This time it was Neils Children, playing their first major London show since October, who topped the bill with support from Silhouette (alias Helena Gee of Zoo Music), and up-and-coming four-piece I Am The Arm.

Silhouette opened, a solitary figure who took the stage forty minutes late. This was her first show with electric instead of acoustic guitar, but her folky singer-songwriter stylings were still a strange choice of support considering the other two acts. Her contemplative music doesn't lend itself that well to the live environment, especially when that environment is still less than half-full two hours after doors, and her lack of a backing band (something she's in the process of recruiting) didn't help as far as creating atmosphere went. But these stacked odds (appropriate for the Dice Club?) didn't impede too much with a set which peaked with a very nice cover of The Gun Club's 'Sexbeat'.

The next act on were Silhouette's polar opposites in everything except dress sense. I Am The Arm are fascinating to watch. Half of the band - vocalist/synth-masher Cyan and a one-man drumstorm called Twitchy the Ratbag - are all shrieks, Ian Curtis gyrations, and flailing; the remainder (bassist Kane and backing vox/synthesizer Aimee) are calm and collected. This tension, increased during a Barrett's-Floyd-in-1966 beginning, created a set which was electric in both senses, and got a fair bit of shoulder-banging going on down at the front. In fact my only minor gripe was the complete lack of any communication to the audience outside of the songs, but otherwise the Arm were brilliant - we predict a bright future.

Still, we can't imagine that many people were at Dice specifically to see either of the support acts. Neils Children's performance was an unusual - almost informal - one by their standards. For a start, they were out of their usual uniform, playing in civvies. Then there was the fact that the eternally-silent Keith Seymour was singing backing vox, and the backing tracks that have accompanied songs including 'Window Shopping' for recent performances weren't used.

All of these things were slightly surprising, but one thing that we were expecting (or rather hoping for) was new material, and we weren't disappointed. A new song (whose name we didn't catch) was first on the setlist, and another - announced as future single 'Exposure' - came towards the end. We're happy to say that these new songs were more than good enough to justify the expulsion of 'Communique' and 'The Night Is Over' from the setlist. Although the N/C performance was a short one, it was more energetic and tighter than their civvies let on, and must have got most of the crowd counting down the days to Pop:Aural.

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