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PEDDLING MIND PORN TO THE
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      [6.6.06] [3:AM]
    ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

    Larrikin Love (pictured) with Air Hammer, Kid Harpoon and Kissing Cousins
    Peterborough Met Lounge 02/06/06
    Indie-folk-calypso oddballs make Peterborough happy as Annie.

    Kissing Cousins claim to sound like 'cousins kissing'. Which, while matter-of-factly amusing, doesn't give much of a clue to their musical leanings. Tonight they do a grand job of warming up the crowd with a solid set, full of danceable indie tunes that most of us would be singing along to if only we knew the words. With his tight white drainpipes and Telecaster, the guitarist resembles Joe Strummer in full-on rockabilly mode, but their punk influences are tempered by some exuberant squalls from the singer's microKORG, creating a fresh, fun sound.

    Although not mentioned on the posters, Kid Harpoon ambles onto the stage next, carrying his acoustic guitar and smiling sheepishly, genuinely pleased to be here on his friends' tour. His sound is a marked change from the openers, but the audience is similarly appreciative, smiling along to his roaring ballads. Strangely, he sounds a little like Chad Kroeger, if Chad Kroeger came from London and wasn't a cunt. A couple of tracks in, disaster almost strikes with the telltale thunk of two guitar strings breaking. At once. As murmurs of 'bless him' circulate the venue, Kid Harpoon decides to soldier on with just four strings, asking us to support him as he finds out how well he really knows the songs. After an abortive first attempt, he gets it right second time round and shows strong promise with a spirited cover of Leonard Cohen's 'First We Take Manhattan'. And with that he's off, presumably to see a man about a guitar, and the evening's wildcard has walked off with a fair few stolen hearts.

    However, to call Kid Harpoon a wildcard would leave no words for Air Hammer. To the portentous sounds of a Biblically epic intro, two men in matching black suits and miniature bowler hats take the stage with solemn reverie. Then a riff jolts in, and leprechaun-lookalike frontman the Reverend Ben Smith starts screaming about fire. Stunned would be an understatement. By the end of the set there will undoubtedly still be a few confused faces, but for those who get it, Air Hammer are mind-blowing tonight. They deal in tongue-in-cheek hard rock hallelujahs; Tenacious D-style tributes to the absurd power of RAWK. During one song, which features the lyrics 'everything is really cool when you're in Ireland', the Reverend is jabbing a loose ceiling tile with his microphone stand, shouting "that's a claim! That's a claim!" Over and over again. There's a terrifying moment where it looks like they're going to cover 'Imagine', but this turns out to be 'Imogen', a hilariously straight-faced ballad of love in the Welsh valleys. By the time the last powerchords have rung out, Smith is doing air guitar starjumps in front of their banner; his real guitar has been slammed into the floor, along with his hat, his jacket, and his audience's jaws. After that he puts on his glasses and comes round with a clipboard for the mailing list. It's too surreal for words.

    For those left scared and dubious by Air Hammer's metal assault, Larrikin Love bring things back to earth with a delightful set of gleeful indie weirdness. They open with 'On Sussex Downs', a jittery number about feeding your shirt to a cow, and fill the dancefloor in seconds. Frontman Edward Larrikin looks like a pale, overgrown child, mincing around the stage, flapping his hands like he's flinking water from a paddling pool and banging a cowbell with a comedy hand attached to it. He manages to be both shyly, geekily effeminate and strangely, attractively cool, with his barely-broken vocals and his funny little dance. From 'Happy As Annie' onwards, the crowd are bouncing every chance they can get, to the skanktastic guitar lines from Micko Larkin which on their demos are surely produced by a fiddle. They flit between genres without a care, to great effect on semi-hit singles 'Six Queens' and 'Edwould', whose unusual melodies and endearingly student-level cultural lyrics are sung back with pleasing aplomb. Finally the band cut loose with calypso closer 'Silver' ('I sewed the stitches that Marilyn burst, and I wrote the quavers that Beethoven sussed'), Edward hopping around waving his five rubbery limbs like the red-headed step-child of Jarvis Cocker. Like Air Hammer, the Larrikin lot are not a band to do things by halves, and tonight a number of grinning gig-goers are already falling helplessly in love.

    ****

    ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
    Richard O'Brien was born in Peterborough in 1990, and has been trying to escape ever since. He is currently still trying to get an education, and resides in a Lincolnshire village with his parents and his labradors with nautical names. He likes to act, listen to music, and write songs that will never be sung.

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