Give 'em Enough ScopeTHE TELESCOPES
THE MORE I think back on this one, the more hellish it seems on reflection; a lame siding in Pop History. Afterall, we had high expectations here, all three bands having been touted as Ones To Watch. But was this a night to remember? Was Ceausescu a pretty humanitarian sort of bloke? Is Kenneth Clarke Father Christmas?
Mistake Number One: ‚arriving too early (again) I get a fanzine with swirly lines all over It, which - apart from a good My Bloody Valentine interview - suggests people should SIT DOWN at Spacemen Three gigs ("Why doesn't everyone down, it seems so obvious... to get the effect") Oh God.
Three or four people heed the 'Zine's shoddy advice and plonk themselves on their backsides in the middle of the floor as Darkside (featuring a couple of ex-Spacemen) do their utmost to be completely tedious. They are not A Band To Watch because there is nothing to see. Because they can't translate their sullen psychedelics into the live situation - leaving you with a morass of guitar stickiness, hanging stodgily in the air.
Mistake Two: Darkside, in a late bid for sympathy, stumble across a brilliant melody (possibly called 'Don't Stop The Rain'), sparkling with an audaciously catchy chorus. Moving nearer the front, said song ends. And the weight of the uninspiring noise really begins to take a hold (consider possibility of sitting on the floor to get the eftect; but instead retire to a corner).
Bark Psychosis, earnestly young, experimenting with moods and textures, speeds and sounds, mix something angelic with something vicious to get.. something tortuous. Their faces look like they're being tortured when they play. They are naive, angular, sensitive and just too jagged to be comfortable with.
The last time I saw The Telescopes was in the tiny confines of the Syndrome Club in Oxford Street, sweat-laden, suicidally loud and precocious.
This wasn't one of their best gigs in comparison, though there were moments of pure aggression. And (bear in mind) they have got a cracking new single coming out called 'To Kill A Slow Girl Walking' which is the best thing they've done and you won't be able to stop playing it if you've got an ounce of sense in you.
BUT. This was mostly unconvincing tonight. Not the single, the show, or rather the non-show, the Just Standing There On Stage side of things. First problem is they construct the set quite oddly, which gives it a lumpy (samey?) continuity. Secondly, they're not loud enough and thirdly they don't leave you wanting more. Highlights of the set come in the new 45, the last one, the steadily burning 'Perfect Needle' and another new track 'Tension' where the rock influences are given the razortreatment and sliced into the present (the nasty 'SOs).
Vocalist Stephen Lawrie has something which was lacking in tonight's other two bands. He is a focal point, an attraction. He moves about a bit snarling out his lines while wrestling with the mic lead. Another more heartening note. The Telescopes, once good but with lots of VOIs (Very Obvious Influences) are starting to forge a more distinctive, intuitive style of their own, taking their grinding guitars and forcefulness into new areas. Hear the sudden bursts of serated guitars on the new 45 for proof.
This tends to make tonight's 35-minute amble all the more frustrating for its lack of conviction. But if you're looking ahead...
Photo by Susan Moore
Originally appeared in NME 20 January 1990. Copyright © NME