Mean Fiddler, April 13th

There can be no doubt that Melissa Auf Der Maur knows a lot about rock. Years spent playing bass and avoiding drug addiction and mental breakdowns in both Hole and Smashing Pumpkins and counting Queens Of The Stone Age as personal friends should teach anyone a thing or two. But there's a huge difference between knowing it and BEING it and, despite having a hit album, her own band and shows all over the world, there's definitely something missing.

Tonight we suffer the truly terrible support band, their poor attempts at 'controversially' burning a picture of someone or other do little to distract from their total lack of tunes. Eventually, after an atmospheric intro tape grinds on for what seems like hours, Auf Der Maur take to the stage and, finally, there she is. Things that strike you, in order, are : 1. She's very small, 2. She's really is that ginger, 3. She's wearing a really bizarre blouse / breastplate / sci-fi outfit and 4. Doesn't she look "pleasant"?

As on the album, the tracks have a definite '80's epic goth' feel to them and whilst they're delivered with note-perfect gusto, especially opener "Lightning Is My Girl" and "Skin Receiver", I'm far from convinced. At one point Melissa mentions the NME and her slavish devotion to it as a teenager in Canada. From that point on, it's difficult to get the image of a wide-eyed, geeky, girl taking notes and formulating a master plan - "How I WILL be a rock star" - strumming along to Pixies and Cure numbers on her first bass guitar, while Mom bakes cookies downstairs.

Indeed, Mom is with us tonight. Melissa introduces her parents to the crowd and then spontaneously decides to dedicate "Would If I could" to them and to sing it in French. It's a touching moment. For them. Not me. I'm at a rock gig dammit! I want danger, sex and visceral thrills, instead I get prom-queen platitudes.*

Maybe I'm being too harsh, expecting too much. It has to be said, a lot of people obviously don't have the same reservations, but me? I'm getting tired of being disappointed.

*(Discovering that she does exactly the same the following night in Manchester makes it even worse.)

Richy [ April 15th, 2004 ]

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