Like DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake, some things will always be great.
Art Brut are probably one of the most underrated bands in the country. Their songs sound great, their lyrics are both clever and witty and they don't sound like anything else around. So when they played a live show at 229 near London's Great Portland Street it was fantastic.
The set list comprised mostly of offerings from their debut album, 'Bang, Bang Rock and Roll' and their third - most recent offering - 'Art Brut vs Satan' (Pictured above) Fans were also treated to a select few tunes from 'It's A Bit Complicated'
After a brief introduction, the band went straight into 'Formed A Band' and even in this first song, front man Eddie Argos was already chopping and changing lyrics. (We're going to be the band that writes the song, that makes America and Scotland get along) Incidentally, he was sporting a rather fetching spiky new hair cut - rather different to his usual fringe. But this isn't a fashion show, it's all about the music and after the energy filled opening number it was obviously going to be a good set.
Almost every song came with it's own story or improvised lyrics. For example, Eddie Argos announced the next song was about "Really bad sex" before the band went into 'Rusted Guns of Milan' complete with an additional story about...well just that in a tent at the 1997 Glastonbury Festival. The stories fitted nicely with the music provided by the rest of the band because Argos doesn't do much actual singing anyway, it's more - as he said himself during the show - "shouting into the microphone" but it works. Really, really well.
This slightly depressing tale was immediately remedied when Art Brut launched into 'Good Weekend' Like much of what the band played the song had a raw feel to it with guitarists Jasper Future and Ian Catskilkin providing excellent riffs on guitar. The band actually froze like statues when there was a pause in this song - it was actually quite impressive as to how very still they all became before jumping straight back into action.
Another pause came during 'Alcoholics Unanimous' this time however, Argos didn't pause explaining it was there because the song - about drinking - makes him thirsty. And so he drank before normal service resumed and 'My Little Brother' followed. The charismatic front man changed the lyrics yet again adding a mini cover of The Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop' into the middle of it
More anecdotes came with 'Emily Kane' and 'The Passenger' Argos made a point of saying that the love of transport in the latter isn't about the London Underground while the song also nipped briefly into Iggy Pop's iconic track of the same name before heading straight into 'DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshake' (Those unfamiliar with Art Brut will understand this reviews abstract now!) This, their latest single sounded absolutely brilliant. The track is excellent anyway but it sounded much spikier and even better for it - one of the best parts of a fantastic show.
The band finished with Direct Hit from their second album providing the crowd with what are probably some of their wittiest lyrics. (He can't talk to members of the opposite sex, he starts to talk, they start to look perplexed) It seemed like it was the end, but of course with a couple of fan favourites still yet to be played there was bound to be an encore, and an encore there was.
A brilliant rendition of 'Bang Bang Rock And Roll' was followed by an equally impressive one of 'Summer Job' - Always the show off Eddie Argos started skipping with his own microphone lead during this second encore song - and he didn't even trip over it! The finale came with an almost ten minute long rendition of 'Modern Art' a song that on Art Brut's debut album only lasts two and a half minutes. This much loved favourite involved Argos apologising for his earlier remarks about Transport for London before suggesting everyone meet up at the Tate Modern. It was a fitting end to an excellent gig.
Art Brut are unique, and it's amazing they don't have higher profile. Even if you're unfamiliar with their work they are well worth seeing because not only does the band put on a great live show, they just ooze charisma and they just keep getting better and better. They're one of the best live acts around; you must try and see them - especially if it's in a smaller venue.
(Originally written for and published at Gobshout)