The Dandy Warhols / Swervedriver / Juniore

The Dandy Warhols

Thanks to the awesome Jon Read (Project Blackbird/Exile FM) being their trumpeter for the 2019 tour, I had the privilege of a guest ticket to see The Dandy Warhols at the O2 in Brixton. They were supported by Indie-Dream-Pop legends Swervedriver and a young French Alt Pop trio called Juniore.

Juniore are a trio consisting of two young women (Keyboards & Vocals and Drums & Backing Vocals) and one young man on guitar who, for the duration of their set, sported a Daft Punk-style face mask. Their sound is intriguing. Power-driven drums sit against single string surf-spy movie guitar that frequently brings Spaghetti Westerns to mind while singer-writer Anna Jean plays sumptuous keyboard chords that reinforce the Ennio Morricone reference. She sings in French in a clear and engaging tone harmonised by the drummer.

Their early start (not long after 7PM) meant Juniore started off playing to a small gathering in front of the stage but, as more people walked in and began to pick up on the buzz around this intriguing band, the atmosphere quickly changed. The good-natured banter added to the positivity as Anna politely proposed that people might like to dance. The music website AllMusic describes Juniore’s music as indie with strong influences from 60s and French Pop and places them somewhere between Cat Power and Françoise Hardy which is not a bad shout. They certainly won some new fans tonight and news that they will be returning to the UK in the Spring was greeted warmly.

Swervedriver make an impressive noise mixing a cocktail of guitar and bass interplay and driving drums with psychedelic-influenced vocals and a ton of reverb and other sonic elaborations. Unfortunately they received few favours from the sound engineers and at times the layers of inventive instrumental parts were lost amid muddy and bass heavy sound which was frustrating.

That did not prevent them delivering a spine-tingling rendition of Future Ruins with its iconic guitar figure and killer chorus. Spiked Flower was another highlight. It was great to finally see them play their heady mix of Alternative Rock energy and resonant Dream Pop in a live setting. If I get another opportunity to see them, they will hopefully get a bit more help from the sound desk!

The Dandy Warhols are clearly enjoying being on the road and celebrating twenty-five years together. The stage was adorned with a giant 25 and at one point a sea of white balloons was released from above the band. It has to be mentioned that the light show was, at times, dazzling. Also pretty amazing was the fact that they played for no less than an hour and forty minutes (or one hundred minutes if you prefer), thus enabling them to showcase some tracks from the new album Why You So Crazy without taking away from the need to provide a loving audience with a really good selection of tracks from across the years.

They were joined by several guests including The Damned’s Rat Scabies on Percussion who lapped up the adoration from the crowd and showed he has lost little of his trademark manic energy. The horns (including the aforementioned Jon Read) were bright, powerful and uplifting on the tracks they appeared for which, as expected, included scintillating versions of Godless and All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey with its Stax references.

There were electrifying performances of Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth, We Used To Be Friends, Get Off and the new single Motor City Steel which has been receiving support from BBC 6 Music. They also avoided accusations of being predictable by not making Bohemian Like You the final track although unsurprisingly it brought the house down when they did play it. The Dandies also like to infuse their upbeat melodic Psych-Punk-Pop with sound storms of electronic ambience and slow-building atmospheric Alt Rock adding further strings to their bow.

Courtney Taylor-Taylor cuts a chilled, contented figure these days and was in fine voice and good humour. Keyboardist Zia McCabe was a bundle of energy and followed a slightly bizarre ending (where only she remained on stage as she went through a series of loud electro-synth note patterns) with an outpouring of love for the fans. Peter Holmströmm and Brent DeBoer also oozed energy throughout.

So all in all a great gig. I cannot sign off without mentioning how good it was to meet up with Jon Read and Ming Nagel of recent Fresh Faves Project Blackbird who I have written about recently in relation both to their fine album and to their fantastic new music-supporting radio show The Monday Night Ride-Out on Exile FM. And it was a nice surprise also to run into long-time friend Simon Whitestar (aka Mitchell) of The Belles and Whitestar. A night to remember for all the right reasons.

Neil March

Neil March is a Composer & Artist with a PhD and Masters in music composition from Goldsmiths University, who has pursued careers in the contemporary classical and pop worlds, and has been supported by BBC Introducing, for whom he performed with his live ensemble The Music of Sound at Latitude in 2017. Read more.

2 Comments

  1. The trick of a great review is to make you regret not having been there and I regret not making it to this show. Great to hear that Juniore got a good reception; I’ve been listening to them over the last couple of months and really enjoying the album ‘OUH LÀ LÀ’ which I would recommend checking out

  2. Thanks Paul. Those are very kind comments. Glad you like Juniore. They are an interesting band.

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