‘Improper Dancing’ in Brighton with Electric Six

Posted On 14 Dec 2021 at 3:11 pm

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

ELECTRIC SIX + CLKWRK – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 12.12.21

With their highly charged fusion of rock and disco, Detroit’s Electric Six first surged into the UK charts in 2003. Their ‘Danger! High Voltage’ single reached number two, its buzz assisted by an unsubstantiated rumour of a Jack White cameo vocal, and their debut album ‘Fire’ generated two further hits with ‘Gay Bar’ and ‘Dance Commander’. Trashy, funny and provocative, it’s never totally certain whether founder member and principal songwriter Dick Valentine has his tongue in his cheek. The spark of inspiration has certainly kept a steady current of hook-laden sleaze classics flowing through the years, even if that initial chart success has never quite been replicated.

Fans at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

We’re a long way down the line from 2003, with an output of no fewer than fourteen more studio albums reaching the grid, along with compilations, live collections and crowd-funded self-releases. There have been numerous changes of personnel along the way. We last reviewed the band in May 2019, catching an incendiary performance at Lewes Con Club – Read our review of that night HERE. Tonight’s show at Brighton’s Concorde 2 was rescheduled from December last year. I’m tingling with excitement to see them again, and that’s probably enough electricity puns for now.

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Support tonight comes from CLKWRK, a four-piece from Stoke-on-Trent. They play classic rock with a contemporary twist of added electronic sounds, which they trigger from guitar synth pedals and drum pads. Together for just over a year, they are currently four months of six into a project to release a single and video each month. Landing this tour support is an excellent opportunity to get their music in front of a wider audience, and they’ve certainly made a visual splash by having their band logo on the kick drum and amp stacks in lit up fluorescent paint.

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

I’m immediately struck by frontman Nick’s voice, which has the familiar howling wail of great blues rock singers like Robert Plant, Paul Rodgers and Steve Marriott. House left, long-haired guitarist Adam plays an SG with a fancy scratch plate, letting fizzes of electronics run between his chord hits. The kit is set up house right, with Romas drumming in an incongruously smart waistcoat. Bassist Danny is grooving hard, the densely inked tattoos up his neck and arms matching the mottled finish on his 5-string Spector. Nick has a retro sound and contemporary looking cropped hair. He sings into a hand-held radio mic which he deftly replaces in the stand clip when he needs to join in with the Telecaster guitar casually slung over his shoulder. It’s a cool trick that I suspect might have needed some practice to master.

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Recent single ‘Rust’ stands out, led by the shrill blast of a harmonica. There’s a funny moment between songs where the lights go up and Nick gets the whole audience to turn and face the back of the hall. They dutifully comply, and the singer mischievously points out the route to the merch table. It raises a chuckle, and is worth a few extra sales. ‘No Waters’ is another cracking number, with a bluesy vibe and a lot going on. Danny is playing synth bass like a theremin, varying the note by waving his right hand. He wears a ring with an LED light on, which is most likely enabling that move. Guitarist Adam is standing out on the bass bins, and Nick gets a long and rather complex vocal loop going, adding more and more parts. At the end he apologises for it going wrong, though it sounded pretty cool to me. Their final number is a rabble-rousing cover of ‘Immigrant Song’. It’s not an easy one to attempt, but they do it very well. Nick has jumped off stage into the photographers’ pit, and sings hanging over the crash barrier, leaning into the crowd. He unleashes a sustained scream worthy of Robert Plant himself, and keeps it going long enough to milk plenty of applause.

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

As warm up acts go, CLKWRK have done a fine job. The electronic angle strikes me as a bit of a gimmick, but hopefully it will help get them noticed. What is certain is that they are skilled exponents of traditional blues rock, and there will always be a place for that.

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

CLKWRK are:
Nick Pilgrim – vocals/guitar/synth guitar/harmonica
Adam Broadhurst – guitar/synth guitar/vocals
Danny Higgins – bass/synth bass
Romas Masteika – drums/synth pads

CLKWRK live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

CLKWRK set included:
‘Fractures’, ‘Poison’, ‘Rust’, ‘Flesh & Bone’, ‘No Waters’, ’Immigrant Song’ (Led Zeppelin cover)

Find them on Facebook.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

After a surprisingly brisk changeover, Electric Six take the stage. The familiar figure of Dick Valentine, tonight in a dark suit and red open necked shirt, is flanked as usual by two guitarists. House left is Da Vé, wearing sunglasses, a shimmering gold sequinned jacket co-ordinating with his gold top Les Paul. House right, in trademark white suit and slinging his trusty B C Rich Mockingbird, is Johnny Na$hinal, aka ‘The White Wolf’. Bassist Rob Lower has a red Precision and wears the sort of suit and tie you might select for an appearance in court. Keyboardist Tait Nucleus? is quite hard to see, tucked away at the side of the drum kit. He is further concealed by the sort of face covering that has become de rigeur this season, though his high rise quiff looks reassuringly familiar. Drummer Dr J thunders around a sparkly kit badged with the band’s logo.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Opener ‘Mr Woman’ has a long build with vocal and guitar, but kicks in with a vengeance and the joint is soon jumping. There’s an impressive section of falsetto vocal, after which Dick holds the mic out to the audience, as though inviting us to have a go. He is met with a huge cheer instead. At his instigation, there’s plenty of hands-in-the-air clapping along to the steady rock of the more recent ‘Bride Of The Devil’. He’s a witty guy, and a career-spanning twenty song setlist affords him plenty of gaps for banter with the audience.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

”We’ve been coming here a long time. This is our record setting twentieth show here… and we’ve only been doing this for eighteen years… We wrote this next song when we believed George W Bush would be the worst thing that ever happened to us. That’s how long we’ve been alive!”

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

This gets a big laugh and plenty of nods of approval from the audience, and the band crashes on with ‘Rock And Roll Evacuation’. Ever the showman, Dick wields his straight microphone stand in an alarmingly suggestive pose during ‘After Hours’, but it’s the super sleazy and eminently danceable ‘Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)’ that really brings the crowd to life. There’s an impressive mosh down at the front, which has a pretty inclusive mix of age, gender and ethnicity, although huge middle-aged blokes seem to be particularly well represented. Appropriately enough, I’m right in there, and you’ll have to rely on my memory from now on, as it’s not convenient to take notes.
Whatever the mix, this seething cauldron of humanity sure contains a lot of kinetic energy for a Sunday night. The direction of travel switches to the vertical plane for the funky guitar groove of ‘Down At McDonnelz’, whose insanely catchy chantalong “My people need a place to go” seems to demand bouncing and punching the air.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Before ‘The New Shampoo’, there’s an unlikely anecdote about the band being berated for their lack of cool whilst “pumping gas” in Shoreham-by-Sea. The synth-led song has a steady disco beat, which provides a brief respite from the totally frenetic dancing, but it doesn’t last long. The White Wolf, introduced as being “in his natural habitat of Brighton” steps forward to commence the familiar guitar figure of the classic hit ‘Gay Bar’, and the crowd state instantly switches from lively to ecstatically berserk.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

How do you follow ‘Gay Bar’? With ‘Gay Bar Part 2”, of course. It’s a bit steadier than its predecessor, which is probably just as well, as we all need a breather. During ‘She’s White’, a young woman is hoisted aloft at the front of the crowd and proceeds to undo her coat and flash her bare breasts to the band. How very retro! Nobody seems to mind this ‘Improper Dancing’. That particular number comes a little further down the setlist, and has a particularly infectious groove with some lovely popping bass. It features a stop, into which the band fits a whole other song, ‘(Who The Hell) Call My Phone?’ before Dick yells “Continue!” It’s a neat trick, and I’ve seen them do it before, but it’s still tremendous fun.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Da Vé starts the familiar opening riff of ‘Danger! High Voltage’, the hit that started it all, and it’s time to recommence the sweaty, beer spilling game of human pinball down at the front. In the middle of the song, Dick stands back, hands in pockets and a satisfied smirk on his face, surveying the mayhem that results from his work. A thunderous crescendo of drums brings it to a close.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

“Please let us do one more from the latest record,” implores Dick, jokingly. “The record company insist we do at least two of these a night.” He’s introducing the briskly satisfying ‘Daddy’s Boy’ from 2018’s ‘Bride Of The Devil’, a paean to those who have been “f*cked over” or “passed over”. I notice there’s no mention, and nothing included from this year’s ‘Streets Of Gold’, although that is an album of cover versions.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

“We’ve come to the end of another wildly successful evening in this room,” quips Dick. “Twenty shows, and we’ve just signed on for another twenty. Musical cockroaches, that’s what we are. We’ll be here for the next pandemic, and the pandemic after that.” The set concludes with the anthemic and hilarious ‘I Buy The Drugs’. The crowd sings the address that you need to send the stamped addressed envelope to (“PO Box 900, Los Angeles, California 90212”) from which Dick promises to fill your prescription “with some degree of accuracy.” He and the band have certainly been just the tonic tonight.

Electric Six live at the Concorde 2, Brighton 12.12.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

Needless to say, there are encores. By the end of ‘Dance Commander’ I’m wringing wet with sweat, tired, and deliriously happy. A wildly successful evening, indeed. Twenty shows at Concorde 2! I can’t wait for the twenty first.

Electric Six:
Dick Valentine -vocals
Johnny Na$hinal – guitar/vocals
Da Vé – guitar/vocals
Tait Nucleus? – keyboards
Rob Lower – bass
Dr J – drums

Electric Six setlist:
‘Mr Woman’ (from ‘Switzerland’ 2006)
‘Bride Of The Devil’ (from ‘Bride Of The Devil’ 2018)
‘Rock And Roll Evacuation’ (from ‘Señor Smoke’ 2005)
‘After Hours’ (from ‘Zodiac’ 2010)
‘Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘Down At McDonnelz’ (from ‘I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being The Master’ 2007)
‘The New Shampoo’ (from ‘Mustang’ 2013)
‘Gay Bar’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘Gay Bar Part Two’ (from ‘Flashy’ 2008)
‘She’s White’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘Slices Of You’ (from ‘Switzerland’ 2006)
‘Be My Dark Angel’ (from ‘Señor Smoke’ (2005)
‘Infected Girls’ (from ‘Switzerland’ 2006)
‘Improper Dancing’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘(Who The Hell Just) Call My Phone’ (from ‘Human Zoo’ 2014)
‘Danger! High Voltage’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘Synthesizer’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)
‘Daddy’s Boy’ (from ‘Bride Of The Devil’ 2018)
‘Dance Epidemic’ (from ‘Señor Smoke’ 2005)
‘I Buy The Drugs’ (from ‘Switzerland’ 2006)
(encore)
‘Dirty Ball’ (from ‘Flashy’ 2008)
‘Dance Commander’ (from ‘Fire’ 2003)

electricsix.com

Gig flyer

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