Words by Ed King / Pics by Martin O’Callaghan
Sunday, a day so hard to sell even God has to pass the hat. But Setting Son are unperturbed, as the local record label and promotions company present the London based pop/punksters, Average Sex, after having to reschedule the gig from a previously booked date back in January. And gaw’d bless them for it.
Average Sex were last in the city for The Hungry Ghosts’ ‘Amerika/Lazaro’ single launch party at Centrala – a cracking night, swirling in a maelstrom of DIY, inappropriate nakedness, steel blues, garage rock, endless cider, and a middle finger to the EHO smoke machine. Lots of fun.
But tonight Average Sex are headlining the bill, replete with their new bassist and The Hungry Ghosts and Miles Cocker in support. As far as I can see there’s no smoke machine, and I’m not taking any layers of clothing off, but with such a promising line up I reckon there’s still some fun to be had. And cider. There’s always cider.
Nestled into the ‘second room’ at the Hare & Hounds (which I curiously prefer to the main stage) a comfortable crowd and sense of camaraderie huddle together, braving the tail end of their collective hangovers and an absurd cold snap that just won’t quit.
First up is Miles Cocker, the dark fringe lyricist and ex-Horror Show front man/Youth Man bassist, who is on stage for the “first time I’ve played an acoustic guitar in public”. But like the bastard child of Kelly Jones and Kristin Hersh (now there’s a hangover), Cocker oozes snakeskin confidence – proffering an onslaught of melody and more sentences to make this writer a bit green round the gills. “Exercise me, circumcise me, drill three holes and crucify me,” awesome stuff.
A cat call to “all our brothers and sisters” announces The Hungry Ghosts are on stage next, as the man so good they named him twice waves a mic in the air and rests his other hand on the keyboard which is now front and centre to their set.
Opening with ‘Amerika’, the jangly opiate journey across an imagined West Coast, The Ghosts are on top form tonight – tight and slick, especially for a Sunday, and sounding ‘more Donington’ than I have heard them in a while, according to my notes. ‘Death Rattle Blues’ swaggers off stage second, before one of my favourite from the famished phantoms, ‘Super King King’, struts its predatory blues across the room.
(Note to self: loud public exclamations about a song with your surname in the title might appear a touch narcissistic, and I am too perfect for narcissism. But here’s some proof that it’s not just a tenuous link I’m applauding. And that I repeat myself.)
And now it’s time for the big show… as the slightly tweaked Average Sex take their places on stage, with Laetitia Bocquet’s broad smile and self-expressions filling the rest of the room. Dragging yourself to The Midlands on a Sunday could threaten the pilot light of many an out of town band, but not tonight.
Opening with ‘Hey Boy’, there seems to be no stumbling or blocks in the new path of Average Sex – with a confident punk pop sound bouncing off stage. Immediate and together, you can see the professional sheen on a band who have been taken under the OGenesis wings and recently toured with The Charlatans. ‘Sociopath’ is next, which could have been written about the man standing to my left, before The Las-esque sound (and dubious set list spelling) of ‘Come Over’ are thrown off stage in short succession.
Far from embedding a new member, and having to say goodbye to an old one, Average Sex appear as close as a rock band should be without drawing tabloid attention. Chat and banter roll around the stage and into the crowd, with a couple of publicly endearing moments between Bocquet and her band mates. Average Sex feel like they have spent many van rides and hotel rooms together, with most of them surviving to tell the tale. But its infectious, and by the time the heavy riffs and distorted love laden lyrics of ‘Ice Cream’ are rattling around the room most of the bodies within it are following suit.
Rounding off with two more relatively recently released tracks, the darkly declarative ‘Ugly Strangers’ and perfectly tilted set closer ‘We’re Done’, the polished sharp edge of this well-rehearsed anarchy is off stage without an encore. Mind you, the downstairs bar has closed (so no more cider) and all that’s left are the tight stares of bar staff who want to call it a week.
Always good to see such a commanding line up, whatever day you can squeeze it into your schedule, and I leave the Hare & Hounds both a little Sunday blissed and full satiated. Not bad for the end of a weekend.
But it would be good to see more from Setting Son, if they have the inclination, as every time they promote a gig I end up with more in my earphones than I had before going in. And as much as I love the creative corner of Centrala, if you can keep them walking (stumbling) distance to my house then I won’t be arguing. Now all we need is a well penned joke about it being cold but still wanting to by ‘Ice Cream’. A man walks into a gelateria with his earphones in…
Average Sex @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.18 / Martin O’Callaghan – Birmingham Review
For more on Average Sex, visit www.facebook.com/averagesex
The Hungry Ghosts – supporting Average Sex @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.18 / Martin O’Callaghan – Birmingham Review
For more on The Hungry Ghosts, visit www.thehungryghosts.co.uk
Miles Cocker – supporting Average Sex @ Hare & Hounds 25.01.18 / Martin O’Callaghan – Birmingham Review
For more on Miles Cocker, visit www.soundcloud.com/miles-cocker
For more from the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk
For more on Setting Son Records, visit www.facebook.com/settingsonrecords