overhaul / undertow

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Ok, so I ripped this from the LA Weekly 'cos I don't have the time to write my own review. But this pretty much sums up what has been the best show I've seen in this town since Shellac about two years ago. And the more I consider it, I'd actually rate it higher than Shellac.

at Spaceland, July 25

We are proud to go out on our own terms. The market-driven advertopolis that is the music industry has not bowed nor bloodied us. Nonetheless, we mourn the watered-down, formulaic, media-centered mediocrity that music has become. Music needs new blood and new passion; fresh ideas and fresh commitments to resist the charms of money, fame and comfort.

--statement on the Fire Show's Web site, announcing their final album release
(Saint the Fire Show, Perishable) and tour

And then they were gone, in a final blast of pompous, petulant self-immolation. The Fire Show are/were good enough to deserve to be missed, although given the attendance for their final (and only ever) performance in Los Angeles, they won't be missed by many. A real shame, because tonight F.S. demonstrate all the attributes of their two and a half albums: the ambition and the brilliance, the poetry and the deeply, almost desperately felt politics, the fireworks and the bomb-dropping. Reduced to a duo 'cause no drummer could stand them (my inference), the Fire Show double themselves: For almost every song, they start on drums and bass and sometimes vocal; with the rhythm established, recorded and triggered, they switch to guitars and vocals. Olias Nil and M. Resplendent literally play with and against themselves.

F.S. have often cited the year 1979 as a direct influence or precedent, and the reason why is apparent tonight: This is Gang of Four and Margaret Thatcher, Public Image and the dawn of Reagan, the Sandinistas and the impending birth of the Minutemen and the Cure. Stark, dubbish funk with punk penknife and splatter; left-wing epics constructed from right angles, made by (sm)art school punks interested in the feet and the brain, the ground and the lofty heavens. With F.S. determinedly grave-bound in a final gesture of refusal, that means an awful lot of important territory -- from the ankles to the shoulders, from 1980 to tomorrow -- will be left unexplored. Premature euthanasia? A beautiful suicide? Maybe a bit of each. (Jay Babcock)


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