The Rosemount Hotel
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Pop Will Eat Itself invented the Grebo movement in the ‘80s and became the leaders of the Birmingham music scene. They evolved into a chart-denting band that were one of the best of the new breed, melding their industrial pop sound with electronica. It has been 20 years since they have been to Australia but this night showed they are far from forgotten.
Like Junk have been kicking around for a while, appearing to be intent on creating music that challenges the audience. The trio of guitar, drums and keyboards take a slightly different slant to their punk-inspired tunes that are relatively minimalist in their execution and somewhat shambolic as well. Like Junk bring a theatrical bent to their music that would have been right at home in a New York basement in a previous era, but at The Rosemount on a Sunday night is a bit meh!
Changing the pace altogether was LYTS, which is essentially Laith Tierney and Yaegar Strauks in electronic duo mode. The two musicians make tunes that have a dark and brooding feel to them that would be akin to the sound of Depeche Mode with a mouth full of downers. LYTS gave the punters enough to look at instead of contemplating the floor during their weighty and sinister-sounding set.
Pop Will Eat Itself originally called it quits in 1996 before a brief reunion about a decade later. While their original frontman, the strapping and charismatic Clint Mansell, is continuing to concentrate on soundtrack work, his right hand man in the Poppies, Graham Crabb, resurrected the group with a new line up. This incarnation announced their intent on stage with the brief, sample-led Back To Business being the first glimpse of new material.
The band promised to deliver the hits on this tour and that is certainly what they did, with Wise Up Sucker airing early. Crabb was bouncing around the stage in shorts and a t-shirt with a megaphone never too far out of reach. Mary Byker took the role of front man in his stride with few missing Clint Mansell in the slightest. Pop Will Eat Itself were never about strong vocal performances, with crunchy, distorted guitars often drowning out the clarity of the strong rapping but not overpowering the melody.
Crabb showed off his biting Brummie wit as he silenced hecklers in a roar of laughter. Byker squared the ledger pointing out that within 48 hours of arriving in Australia, Crabb had already been evicted from a nightclub and lost his cell phone. The social satire that the band had been known for reared its head in Ich Bin Ein Auslander, but for the most part the set was a celebration of danceable tunes and energetic delivery.
If they hadn’t delivered enough of their biggest numbers throughout, the 5 piece pulled out the irrepressible Def Con One to great applause during the encore before donning some Guy Fawkes masks for a pumped up take on Prodigy’s Their Law. Any fears that Pop Will Eat Itself would be a revisionist outfit going through the motions were quashed during a high octane show that deserved a better billing than a Sunday night, and left no one disappointed.
Pop Will Eat Itself – Photo by Rachael Barrett