Liverpool Sound City: Panama Kings, John & Jehn: Bumper, Liverpool

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Comedy facial fuzz, dodgy dancing and orange feather boa’s, Getintothis’ Orla Foster enjoys an unexpected treat down at Bumper.


Panama Kings bring with them a gallon of zeal and a lightly comic moustache, courtesy of frontman Niall Kennedy.
But Groucho Marx he ain’t. He’s the singer of one of Northern Ireland’s more prominent acts, a three-piece peddling a repertoire of roaring, disco-infused melodies.
The band are a big name in Belfast and appear keen to infect the audience with the frantic, spirited energy with songs such as Children and Skeleton Key.
Niall descends to the dancefloor, where he makes a valiant attempt at the splits. Sweat flies from his forehead as he screeches, twitches and rebukes the people skulking in corners.
He’s a bit of a madman, but it works; his voice falling somewhere between the squelch of a balloon and the impassioned yelp heard on early Ash B-sides.
They finish with the irrepressibly catchy One We Are Many, and at last the dancers come out of the woodwork.
While fingers are wagged at one girl who has brought her own chair, the band’s enthusiasm is contagious and brings the night to a majestic close.
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Looking at their black jagged haircuts and austere dress-code, you can right away bet your bottom dollar that John and Jehn will inhabit the dreamy, compelling soundscape of 1980s indie.
With plaintive vocals reminiscent of Siouxsie-Sioux and the Banshees, this London-based duo create a delicate, understated mood, playing songs you might imagine lead characters falling in love to in a wistful, shoegazey film.
The ambience is disrupted, however, when out of nowhere a one-woman-party bursts through Bumper‘s doors, swathed in an orange feather boa and brandishing a light that looks as though it has been ripped off an ambulance.
As she and her entourage prey on audience members to drink noxious liquid from test-tubes, it is all we can do to keep our eyes fixed on John and Jehn as they prowl softly across a dimly-lit stage, offering an escape from the vulgarities of the harsh real world.
The pair turn unexpectedly rock’n’roll for the close of their set, with John handling his guitar as though he wants to raze a tree with it, and Jehn teetering delicately atop the drumkit.
Yet somehow, even when they’re wrecking it up, they can’t help but seem as graceful and poised as their songs.

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