London ICA, June 1st

Persistence. Endurance. Sheer bloody mindedness. The fire that burns inside Chris Olley and co must be fueled by pretty powerful stuff.

Whatever it is, it's kept Six By Seven going for 8 years, during which commercial success has deftly eluded them, despite acres of favourable reviews for both recorded material and live shows. Three brilliant albums (their fourth ":04" is coming in October) and numerous EPs have showcased a band equally at home with visceral punk metal or experimental guitar pop. Sometimes droney, sometimes in-you-face-screaming, always, always, captivating and electrifying.

Having followed Six By Seven from the their first UK tour in 1996 this is about the tenth time I've seen them. From the glorious shithole that is the Louisiana in Bristol, through ULU and the Bull & Gate and an awesome laser-tinged Astoria gig, they've dominated every venue I've seen them play. So tonight it's one of my favourite bands in my favourite venue.

For a three-piece, the noise they make is superb. Olley's guitar and Chris Davis's drumming is one half of the equation, a raging wall of organic noise, atop which sits live keyboards and backing tapes, masterfully controlled by James Flower. Old songs such as "European Me" and the classic "Candellight" sound as good as they always did and new ones like "Catch The Rain", "Bochum" and the mighty "Ready For You Now" with it's repetitive Spacemen-3-esque riff slam into you like old friends in a mosh-pit. Very loud old friends

Olley is his usual shy, retiring self onstage - when not screaming into the microphone or pounding his Rickenbacker - preferring to let the music speak for him. At one point, someone shouts "We love you Chris!", but he just shrugs and looks bemused as if to say "Why?"

I may have to stop going to see bands that I've already seen (especially ones I've seen more times than i can remember!), in favour of the myriad new bands crawling their way out of rock's primordial soup. If I do, It's going to be difficult to say goodbye to Six By Seven, but it's comforting to know that they're unlikely to give up before I do.

Richy [ June 3rd, 2004 ]

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