Clean Cut Kid played at a sold-out Arts Club and Getintothis’ Rick Leach was there to witness a triumphant homecoming.
There’s something to be said for the power of a strong melody, a good tune, hooks that pull you in and a great song, all wrapped up and perfectly formed within the space of four minutes or so. Clean Cut Kid have got all of these nailed down to a tee. It’s a template for perfect pop that’s stood the test of time for the past half-century.
This is what we love about pop music.
You can’t underestimate the strength of great songs and Clean Cut Kid have them by the bucketload.
That would be good enough by itself-melodies, tunes, hooks etc- but when you combine it with the ability to translate that to a live performance with a stage presence that connects and communicates so strongly with an audience, then you’ve pretty much got the full set.
Clean Cut Kid ended their tour at a packed Arts Club. It seems strange in some ways to say this but they’re now veterans of live performance having seemingly been playing up and down the land for the past couple of years and wowing audiences right across the UK. This current tour took in dates as far afield as Glasgow and London, Bristol and Leeds, Nottingham and Birmingham and from all accounts, each date was a blinder.
But now they were back home at the Arts Club and to say there was a buzz in the air beforehand is an understatement.
It felt like they were our band and back where they belonged. A home fixture if you will. We would be an easy crowd to win over.
And we were. A pushover.
They’ve just recorded their new (and second) album and from the handful of tunes that they threw in the set, they seem to be a shade deeper than their earlier ones. There’s hints of darkness and sadness, quiet storms happening beneath Mike Halls carefully crafted songs, with a sort of anthemic folk overlaid by Evelyn Halls vocals and keyboards coming more to the fore. A good thing indeed and still within that four minute or so mark. Small but perfectly formed, these new tunes went down well with a very receptive crowd.
But it wasn’t all new stuff.
Clean Cut Kid know enough by now to construct a set that will please a crowd and second song in, We Used To Be In Love resulted in mass singing and jumping around. New bassist Gareth Bullock was introduced to the crowd with Brother of Mine; always a lovely tune yet what’s easy to forget is how good a guitarist Mike Halls is.
He underplays his technique somewhat but when it does break out, as it did in the solo of this song, your writer almost dropped his pen in disbelief. It was if the presence of Prince had been summoned to the stage of the Arts Club. If we’d looked carefully we would not have been surprised to see the Purple Imp himself, reincarnated and doing a turn, but no, it was Mike Halls giving it loads, true Minneapolis style. And it went down a treat.
They ended their set with Pick Me Up– a classic pop song if there ever was one- and on a rainy and stormy winter night that’s what we all needed. A pick up.
Clean Cut Kid connect so well with an audience and with a brief encore of the even more classic Vitamin C, Jean and Evelyn they left us with joy in our hearts and tunes spinning round our heads and wanting to hear more as we stepped out onto rain-sodden streets. Don’t leave it so long before the next time.
Peach Fuzz opened proceedings on the night with a light and swirly psych-inflected set. On the way in someone told us that “they were the shittiest new Liverpool band.” After hearing their 30-minute set we figured that they were tempering their critique with deep irony.
Peach Fuzz are intriguing and interesting. They certainly piqued the curiosity of not only ourselves, but from what we heard, a fair few of the captive audience waiting for Clean Cut Kid as well. With a new single hot off the press, Peach Fuzz are a band to look out for.
Images by Getintothis’ Lauren Cowdall