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Ahhh nearly the weekend, which means the week’s already on its downward slope to Friday and things can sometimes get a bit sleepy. Fortunately I have the perfect antidote – Fight Like Apes at the Barfly, with a set of supporting bands who were, to say the very least, a little bit good.

Opening band Suddenly, Phantoms! are LOUD. I don’t mean a bit loud in an ‘I’m over 30 now and need a nice lie down’ loud – I mean they’re ‘Christ on a bike my eardrums are vibrating!’ loud. It is, quite frankly, bloody amazing. I have since been and listened to their recorded tracks and so on on their MySpace and you know…they just don’t prepare you for it. This is a band whose live energy is going to be very, very hard to capture on any kind of recording, which means only one thing: you need to go and see them. I’m not saying their recordings aren’t any good by the way – far from it – but good lord.

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There is a faint hint of the early Iron Maiden -in a GOOD way, look, just trust me – about some of the guitar playing which, combined with the epileptic thrashing about that accompanies it, is pretty impressive. In fact there is so much bouncing about that three songs from the end, the guitar strap gave up and guitarist Rob was forced to play the rest of the gig sitting on the floor. (It didn’t detract from things.) Anyway look. They are really very good. Go and see them if you can…but if you’re at all delicate, take earplugs. I still had concert hum on SATURDAY, so I am not complaining! They’re also on Steve Lamacq’s show on R1 on Monday night, if you get chance to listen.

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Tonight’s second band, Wolverhampton’s Your Biggest Fanclub, are another happy discovery. There’s only three of them and I love – LOVE – the dual vocal delivery they have going on. Guitarist Tom and bassist Ed sing over and around each other with clarity and harmony and it’s genuinely a pleasure to listen to. They are also blisteringly loud and precise and if there’s one thing I like it’s watching a drummer play like he’s actually trying to fight his drumkit off. YBF are definitely a sharp blast of fresh air, combining playing that sounds sharp and energetic whilst being incredibly proficient with a refreshingly raw energy. Like Suddenly, Phantoms! before them, I’d argue that this is a band you really need to go and see play live, because unless you’ve experienced them standing ten feet away making all that glorious noise you really haven’t got it yet. They have a MySpace and a Facebook page, so there’s really no excuse.

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After a small sojourn outside to recover from the terrifying volume and to make hand signals at each other along the lines of “weren’t they GOOD?!”, we headed back inside to catch tonight’s third band, Underground Railroad. Another three-piece, they have a very different feel to the other bands playing tonight, combining lush guitar and bass melodies with vocals that are by turn sweet and sinister. The energy is completely different, and yet equally raw and compelling; where Suddenly, Phantoms! and Your Biggest Fanclub marched out and assaulted the listener with their sharp edges and sheer force (not a bad thing!), Underground Railroad are a bit like being surrounded and gently squeezed. My only grumble would be that to begin with I could barely hear guitarist Marian’s vocals, which was a pity as her voice lends a dreamlike quality to the music. Combined with the rhythmic, melodic guitar and bass parts, it has a hypnotic effect. Their newest album, Sticks and Stones, was released late last year, and the band have both a MySpace and a Facebook page.

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Headliners Fight Like Apes finally take to the stage sometime after 10pm – there was a sense that they were a bit late going on, and there seemed to be some sound problems which thankfully ironed out once things got going. The sense of urgency though carried forward into the music – not that FLA were ever a band to leave anyone asleep at the back. They come out swinging and don’t stop – even the slower numbers don’t leave any room for a breather, as they’re delivered with quirky energy and intensity. There is happy bouncing and crowd participation galore, with MayKay hanging off the monitors and coaxing the crowd to clap along, and then they play Jake Summers and everything goes a little bit crazy and it’s ace.

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FLA are a formidable force, a bit like simultaneously being forced onto a crowded dancefloor by being pinched and having a really good laugh; they’re clever and fun and upbeat. Other high points, apart from – of course – the newest EP (Tie Me Up With Jackets), and previous single Lend Me Your Face, included the quite insane cover of Mclusky’s Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues, with Maykay delivering the vocal line like she means to kill you with it. Or at least cause you some damage.

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Closing track Battlestations ended the night on an exuberant note and was a great finish to proceedings. If you have not heard Fight Like Apes I don’t know where you’ve been but I don’t think anyone’s going to have a choice if they keep going like they have been – and it’s really not a bad thing at all. New album Fight Like Apes and the Mystery of the Golden Medallion is out now and available through iTunes.

Despite still being partially deaf this was the most fun I’ve had watching live music in ages – seek out any and all of tonight’s lineup if you want to cause yourself some damage and have a really good time.

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Review – Gill Duckett
Photos – Ian Dunn

One Response to “Fight Like Apes + Underground Railroad + Your Biggest Fanclub + Suddenly, Phantoms! @ Birmingham Barfly – 26th February 2009”

  1. Fight Like Apes Live at The Barfly Birmingham - Rock3 Rock News & Music Reviews Says:

    […] a better review Birmingham Live! Blog Archive Fight Like Apes + Underground Railroad + Your Biggest Fanclub + Sudden… it seems like this person actually likes […]

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