Friday, June 12, 2009

Viv Albertine at Cafe Oto

Viv Albertine at Cafe Oto; photo by Val PhoenixCafe Oto
10 June

Ah, sunny Dalston. How well I remember it from days of yore: squatting in a house with no heating, collecting wood from the skip next door, boarding up smashed windows...

So, no Tube strike or distraction of international football could keep me from returning to my spiritual home for a gig by former Slits guitarist Viv Albertine. Out of the public eye for a number of years, she only returned last year for a measly two gigs with the re-formed (but hardly reformed) Slits before deciding life as part of Ari Up's backing band was not for her.

Happily, the experience did get her playing her trusty Telecaster and writing some new sweet-sour pop songs. Yes, pop. No snarling punk rawkness was on show here. Just Viv, guitar in hand, keyboardist (and author) Zoƫ Street Howe and pianist Steve Beresford. The set was short, sweet and, save a nasty smack in the mouth on her mic, without undue incident. In the house were old muckers The Raincoats and Tessa Pollitt, as well as other "I-was-there-in-'77" stalwarts mixed in with the jazzheads who'd come to see the other acts on the bill.

Love und Romance still seem to be preoccupations for Albertine, as she declared, "This is really depressing. I don't believe in love anymore" while introducing "Don't Believe/In Love". Other titles included "The False Heart" and "If Love", which worms into the brain with its "la-la-la-la" refrain.

There was a bratty, nursery rhyme quality to the lyrics which sat happily with her rhythmic strumming style. Perhaps a bit sedate for the old guard but everyone has to grow up.

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