The great thing about the set (apart from the Paddyraggaman's flawless and passionate flows) was how well the live band thing actually works. This is no gimmick for Shameless… his band are tight and well-integrated, whether performing tunes from his new album "Smokers Die Younger" or further re-interpreting his bootlegged versions of tunes by Justin Timberlake and the Arctic Monkeys. Shameless has no fear of flipping pop tunes rather than just classic dusty breaks and has a rare talent for carrying off some fairly cheeky swipes without coming across as cheesy.
I think in a lot of ways this comes down to the fact that he engages with mainstream popular culture in a way that is witty and challenging rather than just vacuously referential. When he mentioned Pete Doherty in an accapella verse, it was not as one might expect to use the Babyshambler as a metaphorical measure of his own hedonism but rather to point out the hypocritical double-standard whereby Doherty's bourgois self-indulgence is almost celebrated by the media, while "urban" acts that stray into similar territory are more often labelled as dangerous and disruptive.
Unfortunately the two other acts put on last night weren't as good. Alex Blood was decent but far less compelling – his stage presence fell a little short, the band were that little bit less tight and it was sometimes hard to hear his vocals. Current single "Say Hello" epitomised for me the main problem with his set… the replaying of the Stranglers' "Peaches" seemed both forced and obvious, representing a how-not-to… of crossover sampling in contrast to Shameless' way with the hooks. I suspect from hearing his harder, more political underground material (such as "Tell The Queen" on the HHBRadio Volume 2 mix CD) that he was compromising his style for the unpredictable cross-over crowd so all I can say really is that I'd like to see him playing to a hardcore home-turf venue and hence maybe get a better idea of his true talents.
Finally (or rather firstly as I'm doing this in reverse order) Stefan And The Art-School were an okay indie band trying to do rap and grime. Ah, Nu-Rave… who the fuck thought that was a good idea?
And… I should shout out host Lady A.I. from Afro Physics for her set and for allowing Filthy Rich, Magic and Devalish onstage for a freestyle sesh plus Tony Green for handling the decks and running promotion for the night.
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