AMBER ARCADES / TENDER PREY | LIVE REVIEW
Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Thu 30 Mar
“They said these pyjamas were breathable, but I’m sweating like a prick. Pricks sweat, right? Donald Trump’s a massive prick and he looks like he sweats a fucklot.” Tender Prey aka Laura Byron, we like you already (though, in truth, we did way back when you fronted King Alexander).
The PJs in question, also worn by all three members of Laura’s band, are blue splattered with blood red – appropriate for an outfit who routinely dismember rock conventions and suture the parts back together in ways few others could imagine. Cate Le Bon, perhaps – but she doesn’t have the same curl of the lip, or attempt to write a “John Hughes end-of-prom song” (The Peach Grumbles), or go all Sonic Youth feedback snowstorm (Slow Creep) at the end of a set that finds the guitarist using his instrument as a trampoline before lying face down atop his howling amp.
On hand to provide aural balm are Heavenly Records’ Amber Arcades, taking time out from a tour with Grandaddy (“They’re not playing tonight, the lazy fucks”, smiles Annelotte de Graaf) to treat us to the plentiful highlights of their unassumingly charming Fading Lines LP.
Essentially, de Graaf deals in two different kinds of song: perky, jangly, C86-y ones that make perfect singles (Right Now, Fading Lines and a “free interpretation” of Nick Drake’s Which Will) and shimmering, swoonsome, slow-motion ones with just enough psych to melt hearts but not heads (gorgeous opener Constant’s Dream and an oldie that swells with serene beauty). Recent single It Changes falls firmly into the first camp, a forthcoming release into the latter. It’s what you might expect from a self-confessed Deerhunter superfan – if not from someone who used to work at the international war crimes tribunal.
The exception to the two camps rule remains Turning Light, which (after standard encore procedure is shunned) pulses Stereolab-like to a thrillingly thunderous climax and will be as hard to dislodge from its position at the conclusion of the set as grins are from audience members’ faces.
words BEN WOOLHEAD