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'London, Camden Underworld, 13 April 2017'   

-  Genre: 'Punk/New Wave'

Our Rating:
Yes Rachel Stamp are back once more for another night of 90's nostalgia at The Underworld. This time I saw the returning 90's heroes more times than I can count on my fingers unlike the last one of these nights I attended at the Underworld. I was a fan from the first time I heard them sound-check at The Camden Falcon all those years ago.

So Rachel Stamp are fitting this gig in-between the band members' current touring commitments in among other bands Adam And The Ants, Sham 69, The Bay City Rollers, The Selector, The Fiasco's, Scant Regard, and also - in the drummer Robin Guy's case - promoting his own line of Hot Pepper sauce!

Tonight's support She Made Me Do It is of course another one of Will Crewsdon's legion of bands and this one features Shaheena Dax on vocals. For anyone still unaware, they are of course both in Rachel Stamp. They are also promoting the band's second album The Frantic Legion and for this date are joined by a live drummer. This is actually the first time I've seen them in this formation as they normally perform as a duo.

So they play adult modern pop with some twists. Will plays a wonderful beat up-looking guitar and triggers effects and samples from his pedals, while Shaheena is the front woman, so instead of her usual ice queen presence behind the synths she's fully alive and ramming the sordid tales in the lyrics into our heads like some sort of Post-modern mix between Sharon Von Adel and Debbie Harry. I'll not guess at too many of the song titles but, damn, they worked the room. It was revelatory to see Shaheena looking like she was having so much fun singing and performing.

Of the songs that really stood out, It Doesn't Happen was good and dark lyrically with the guitars splintering over us and a nice distorted sample underneath as all the drama unfolds. Eagles was infectious and pulsating. I really liked Poison Aura, which lists all the ways you have made her unhappy with all your poison. It also has that adult pop feel that is like a sleazier and more twisted Pet Shop Boys meeting, say, Lola Dutronic. Very effective. It was also the point that the band's roadie started to Polish Will's main guitar for Rachel Stamp very carefully indeed.

Late Night Hang seems to be all about what you get up to hanging out late at night. All the drugs and sex and damn good fun and it was followed by them closing with It Doesn't Happen: another sharp and rather dance-y song about...well, what doesn't happen! I really should have seen them a few times by now and the album is well worth going to Shemmdi online to buy a copy.

After a short break and a costume change for Will and Shaheena it was time for Rachel Stamp who came on-stage to a rare Flesh For Lulu outtake called Rachel Stamp!!

From the moment they kicked into Monsters Of The New Wave they looked and sounded like they had never been away.David Ryder Prangley's bass meshed with Robin Guy's towering and always theatrical drumming and we knew we were going to be in for a treat.

I Got The Worm was always a crowd favourite and while everyone is now a bit older we all sang along to the chorus as the synths kicked in and Will's shiny black guitar played that wicked riff. I Wanna Be Your Doll followed with barely a breath between to make sure the sold out crowd were really going for it when they weren't staring at David and his amazing see-through catsuit. It still fits him like it did in the old days, incidentally.

Superstars Of Heartache was always a rallying cry to the Stamp legion and tonight was no different. It sounded great and they were firing on all cylinders. Will's solo may have been a bit more fiddly than it used to be, but as it was only about 10 to 15 seconds long, it worked perfectly. Still, as ever David was in love with a Dead Girl and got that mix of pathos and sleaze just about perfect.

They promised us all the hits and more and for those of us who have seen them over the last 20 years they gave us just that. That oh-so-familiar intro for Take A Hold Of Yourself came in and although it slowed things down, the intensity of the performances seemed to rise no matter how much Robin was smiling while doing all his tricks on the drums. He is still one of the most visual drummers around.

Brand New Toy was greeted like the old friend it is and we all wish we had that toy David is singing about. During it, Shaheena hit that button on her synth that seems to trigger the bass effects to make everything wobble. It's an indescribable sort of sub-sonic noise monster and damn this was great fun. After a few words of wisdom from David they did Starburst In The Triffid Nebula which for me was the set's only weak point as it just never did it for me as a song.

Still, that was followed by the as ever magnificently sleaze-ridden Pink Skab: one of the best evocations of a horny one night stand that leaves the wrong impression afterwards - and yes, a room of people screaming "Pink Skab" is always a bit odd. However, the band then found True Love and obviously they have some real twists to add to it.

Ah, it was then time to ride to heaven on a Dirty Bone: another glam sleaze anthem for the Stamp legion. It has always gone down well and played like this it was storming and slutty in the right ways. Then David shed his bass and picked up his tambourine and disappeared to the back of the Underworld to sing Black Tambourine and let a fan or two help him with the chorus. Will, Shaheena and Robin brought the song fully to life on stage and, yes, just about everyone sang that "She's my Black Tambourine" refrain.

David was back onstage and strapped back into his bass for a slow, delicious take on Stealing Clothes From Shelley Barrett. Then it was time for the band's biggest hit, My Sweet Rose, which, as expected, went down a storm and still sounds every bit as good as the first time I heard it. They closed with early single, Hey Hey Michael, You're really Fantastic, providing the perfect way to end a classic Rachel Stamp set.

Of course they came back for an encore. This began with Victory and while this show was a total victory, this song almost sounded thrown away. Personally, I'd have preferred to hear Je Suis Maisee at this point but it's a minor quibble as they then cranked up Jet Black Supersonic to really show they were blasting on all cylinders.

Black Cherry has always sounded like a hit and was there anyone who didn't know the words? Whatever, it sounded as great as ever and at the end David pulled Steven Adamson up to play his bass for the closing Calling All Destroyers and I think he told him the chords while handing him the bass!! It didn't matter as it was a great, if slightly messy ending to a great comeback show.

Hopefully Rachel Stamp will play some more shows later in the year and should be on some festival bills this summer if there is any justice.
  author: simonovitch

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