Posted by: Richard Frost | 2 Apr 2020

Electric Six gig review

Logo for Durham University's student newspaper PalatinateOriginal publication date: November 2003
Outlet: Palatinate

Danger! Danger! High Voltage! The band with the best videos around light up Newcastle University with a suitably electric performance (sorry for all the puns, it’s just too tempting)

I’ll admit I was slightly worried that Electric Six’s comic-genius videos for Danger! High Voltage, new single Dance Commander and of course Gay Bar (Gay Bar! Gay Bar!) would fall flat live. Could they really cope without the flashing pelvic lights and the gay gymnasts? Would the mysterious summer walk-out of half the band ruin their euphoric dirty disco vibes? And why has some drunken 14-year-old just poured my mate’s pint down my (deliberately!) camp clothes?

But we start with the support acts. First up were Surferosa – if you’re named after a Pixies album in my world, you must be good. And they were, despite sounding nothing like The Pixies. A girl-fronted punk band that couldn’t help but remind audience members of The Distillers, though not quite as bad (attitude) and not quite as good (songs). Enough to suggest they can headline and become a cult hit though.

Next up, Kid Symphony. Am I the only one who thinks you can spot a good band from their name alone? This lot were completely anonymous, apart from the aforementioned drunk kid who followed the pint spilling by asking if this MOR rock was in fact the disco-stomping Electric Six.

It’s said that a good crowd makes a good gig and, if true, this was a sensational show. A full 20 minutes before the band arrived onstage, the crowd were swaying and surging so much that I somehow ended up on the third row without even trying. Crowd surfing (aka getting repeatedly kicked in the head) was also a constant throughout, whilst I even saw a few mosh pits springing from the Geordie hordes.

Original artwork for Electric Six's debut LP Fire

A personal favourite came at the start of the performance, with the 1,200-strong capacity crowd chanting in unison ‘We want Dick!’ Mr Dick Valentine duly appeared and promptly sank from view again as the charged crowd surged (no more, I promise).

The good news for fans is that Dick is as funny live as he is in the videos and on the storming debut album Fire. Tongue-in-cheek songs Nuclear War (on the Dancefloor) and Naked Pictures (of your Mother) were a huge success, with their gift for a catchy chorus obliging everyone to sing along. Sadly, Danger! High Voltage was sung without the aid of the Jack White sound-a-like (allegedly an Ohio car mechanic), but Improper Dancing with the line ‘Stop!…Continue!’ proved a brilliant way to lead into the encore.

What’s more, the crowd hit fever pitch when our ‘Gay Bar’ chant was answered with the song’s opening guitar hook for the finale (though Dick never donned the Abraham Lincoln beard, sadly). My aching, sweaty and frankly unattractive body somehow managed to jump with the masses for three more minutes in an ecstatic finale that even seemed to surprise the band. Dick genuinely seemed to enjoy himself and this was confirmed afterwards when he repeatedly returned to the stage to humbly thank the audience – a far cry from his cocksure stage persona.

So a fantastic performance whose only downside is that it’s hard to see how Electric Six might be able to improve on all this in future. Can they possibly follow up Fire with another song as catchy or a video as funny as Danger! High Voltage or Gay Bar? Maybe not, but for tonight at least Electric Six’s star shined brightly (sorry).


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