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MIME ARTISTS
:: Johnny Boy ::
04 December 2004 / The Castle / Oldham
By Cath Aubergine

You’re probably quite familiar with Johnny Boy’s single “You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve” since it crashed onto the airwaves in the summer, sounding like nothing else around and seemingly on Radio 6 every fifteen minutes - one of my favourite singles of the year, anyway - and then… nothing. Where did they go? Do they have any other songs? Well yes, they do, mostly in a similar vein - anti-consumerist lyrics backed up with a towering wall of sound. So far, so good…

After a typically rock’n’roll set from local indie psychedelics The Flow which ended with frontman Pete sliding all round the floor of the Castle on his back and a rapturous reception from the ever enthusiastic Flow fans who make up most of the not-exactly-capacity crowd, we’re in the mood for some more live rock’n’roll action. What we get is a bloke and a girl, holding a guitar each (although it’s not even clear whether they are actually playing them all the time), singing along to backing tapes. Now backing tapes have their place - you wouldn’t necessarily expect the latest boy-band to be completely au fait with playing instruments, and at the other end of the scale bands such as the exceptional 65daysofstatic know exactly how to use sampled and sequenced elements to augment their playing without ever once sounding anything but “live”, but at times Johnny Boy may as well not have turned up at all. To make things worse, the vocals are plagued by sound problems for the first couple of songs rendering them all but inaudible. A well put together film projection flashes semi-Situationist visuals at the back, and Lolly has a brilliant girly-but-tough indie-new-wave voice when we finally get to hear her properly, but it never actually feels like watching a live band. At times they look almost embarrassed to be there. Given the general reaction to their performance - I hear the words “Are they taking the piss or what?” a couple of times - this is fairly understandable.

They do, most definitely, have some great tunes. “Johnny Boy Theme” takes in 80s indie pop, the Ronettes and the Jesus & Mary Chain; another is reminiscent of Phil Spector’s work with the Ramones, and all evidence points to their album, out early next year, being anything but dull. And maybe their performance works in the capital’s scenester haunts, but on a Saturday night in Oldham when people go and see a band they want to see a band. They’d be well advised to acquire at least a bassist and drummer before they show their faces round here again. I believe there may be a couple of second hand Libertines on the transfer market…


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