Jade Hairpins, electronic spinoff from Fucked Up, kicked off their UK tour in Kazimier Stockroom – Getintothis’ Rogerio Simoes was there to dance to the grooves.
We should never generalise, but Canadians seem to have the habit of surprising us.
Since Neil Young became a huge solo artist when many thought he could not sing and should stick to guitar solos, there’s always something coming from Canada that takes us by surprise.
Caribou showed up in the mid-noughties making electronic music that didn’t feel electronic. The New Pornographers came up with a brainy version of indie rock that puzzles us to this day.
So who could imagine that Canadian hardcore punk-pop group Fucked Up would generate a new electronic act? That’s what happened when it was recently announced that electronic dance artist Jade Hairpins, whose tracks Mother Man and Gracefully were released in 2018, were in fact Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk from Fucked Up.
Two years later, Jade Hairpins are in Liverpool, at Kazimier Stockroom, for their first ever gig! Yes, that’s big. Liverpool is to kick off the seven-date tour in the UK that announces to the world this Fucked Up spin-off, so we couldn’t miss it.
As a sort of welcoming gesture, a couple of Liverpool artists are responsible to warm things up for the Canadians. David Hughes’ Charity Shop Pop opens the evening, so we’re served with his lovely 1980s inspired tunes.
Hughes is on his own, with pre-recorded support and some wicked videos behind him. He starts with Always You, which he dedicates to Valentines’ Day – we have not mentioned the date earlier because we simply don’t believe in it, and if you think that’s because we’re single, bitter and miserable, you’re absolutely right.
We quickly realise there’s some early Stone Roses inspiration on Charity Shop Pop‘s sound, particularly the way Hughes treats his guitar, and that’s quite pleasant. On Vintage Baby – he’s the vintage one, not his babe – the pre-recorded drums takes us even further back into the 1980s.
Hughes eventually lets himself go on a guitar solo (!!!) which he says, apologetically, is not a common thing. We’re left with his sound in our heads, though, hoping that wherever he takes his music forward his inspiring guitar playing will be at the heart of it.
Time for Claire Welles, whose impressive underground journey has generated more than 20 albums, although the feeling is that her best is still to come. She makes music clearly inspired in the electronic sound of the early 1980s, but with a very modern style of song-writing.
Welles pushes boundaries in her sounds, her lyrics and her stage presence – it’s just her and pre-recorded music, but she comes close to the audience, gives us deep looks and controls the space around her pretty effortlessly, in front of a screen showing football matches from a few decades ago.
“In a way I am so vile, it’s my style, it’s my style” Welles sings on Viral Infection, with the attitude of someone saying “this is who I am”, as confident as anyone could be. Energy brings memories of the sounds Cocteau Twins were famous for, while the brilliant Man Ray enters our brains with no intention to ever leave.
Welles makes us wonder how powerful her set would be with at least a couple of musicians supporting her, if not a full band. She’s releasing a new album soon, and we look forward to it.
We take a break, go to the Garden for a bit, and when we come back to the Stockroom there’s another surprise: Jade Hairpins are not here as an electronic duo, but as a full, four member rock band. Falco is on guitar and vocals, Haliechuk is on bass, now augmented with Tamsin M Leach on the drums and Jack Goldstein on guitar. Nice.
— Lewis (@lewisrids3) February 15, 2020
They take off, and we start to digest and enjoy this new sound, being played live for the very first time. It’s rock, a bit punk, a bit pop, reminds us a bit of The New Pornographers, and Falco, Fucked Up’s drummer, looks a natural in his new position as a front man.
Fucked Up have always been a sort of surprise band too. Damian Abraham’s furious vocals have never left any doubt that their sound is hardcore punk, but there’s something different in it, some kind of a soul. There’s melody to comfort us, with Haliechuck’s guitar solos allowing our minds to travel while the basis of their music hammers our bones.
That is best exemplified on 2018’s Raise Your Voice Joyce, one of their best tunes – the song’s video should be used as an advert for the return of the typewriter, a cause we would support passionately.
We are thinking all those things while Falco, Haliechuck and their new mates play their new tunes. Jade Hairpins have kept Fucked Up’s energy but left the hammer in Toronto, replacing it with an injection of groove.
Around the third song of the set – we didn’t know the songs and still don’t, it’s all brand new –,we realised that some feet are moving in the audience. On the fourth, we could definitely see some hips shaking, and by the fifth we’ve got it: they’re really here to make us dance.
So the whole thing finally comes full circle: what started two years ago as two electronic, funky songs by a mysterious band which was then revealed to be part of Fucked Up are a new rock-dance act, making us spin like the Happy Mondays do.
Falco confirms this is a short set, about half a dozen songs, and announce the last tune as “the only song you might know”. They play Mother Man, in a much heavier version than the one released in 2018 alongside another track, Gracefully.
The live Mother Man maintains some of the electronic beat, but there’s plenty of guitar now, with Haliechuck’s recognisable bassline keeping everything together. It’s rock to dance to, and we like it.
This is how Fucked Up’s new side project has introduced itself to the world. We could have had much more, and hopefully that will happen soon. As long as Falco and Haliechuck keep taking new grooves out of their hats, we’ll listen. Our dancing shoes will be ready.
Images by Getintothis’ Billy Vitch