Monday, November 27, 2006

Serena Maneesh, Water Rats, London, 24.11.06

Life can't be easy when your sister is about seven feet tall and looks like a beautiful cross between Edie Sedgwick and Legolas the elf. I expect no one pays you much attention. Especially if she plays bass in your band. Perhaps that's how Emil Nikolaisen, the frontman of Serena Maneesh, learnt to rock out.

Never has the term 'shoegaze' seemed so wildly inappropriate. Both Emil and Hilma kept throwing shapes for their whole set, even when there was nothing to dance to but tides of feedback – which was quite often, since these Norwegians do love their My Bloody Valentine. These days, if you want to see someone waving their guitar at the amp for five minutes while audience members hold back tears of pain, you have to see a post-rock band like Mogwai, so I couldn't be happier with a night of shoegaze revival.

Serena Maneesh, complete with violinist, played most of their excellent 2005 self-titled debut album, and, live, it all sounded much the same, but that didn't really matter. Really, with music like this, as with dubstep, the medium is the message – you want to be deafened and caressed at the same time, and you don't really give a shit about where each song ends and the next one begins. On Friday, the avalanche of distortion never quite crushed the hazy, Velvet Underground-style eroticism beneath, which is just how it needed to be. Sadly, the Water Rats is not a big venue, so it couldn't be that loud – I'd like to see them somewhere with a speaker stack as tall as Hilma.

Incidentally, I hadn't realised that most of Serena Maneesh have side projects, so I'll be spending the rest of today listening to the likes of Silver, The Unmist, and Mourning Leaves. Plus Emil's played with Sufjan Stevens! One more potential buyer for my upcoming run of 'GAY FOR SUFJAN' T-shirts?

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