The Raveonettes, The Northwestern

Christopher Upton 17/12/2009

Phil Spector may have taken off his wig and been taken away this year, but his presence is still felt heavily tonight in the music of Scandinavian fuzz-rockers The Raveonettes. The due with the wall of sound have heavily dipped into The Jesus and Mary Chain and combined this influence with The Ronettes (not just in name) to create a heavily stylised rock and roll noise that perfectly befits cold winter nights.

The Northwestern are an enjoyable enough support band, and though that might sound like a rather bland statement, it was difficult to get too excited. The skill was present, and there was obvious talent sewn throughout the songs but it sounded remarkably similar to thousands of bands before. It was a kind of Indie that seems like a hangover from 90s indie bands like Gomez, rather than the big stadium indie that Kasabian are currently re-energising. As such, it drifted by, acting to most of the crowd as background music briefly interspersed with smatterings of applause.

Tonight is part of a tour for The Raveonettes' fourth studio album, an album which showcases just how far they've moved from their original sound constraints towards a much more electro feel and a much louder sound. They probably should be a little bit more popular than they are, but instead the cult of Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner are tightly packed into a room above a small pub in south Birmingham on a snowy night; perfect conditions for a band who have just left New York.

Despite the relatively small surroundings the pair deploys an impressively powerful greatest hits set, spanning their entire back catalogue. Reaching as far back as the Whip It On EP, for songs like Ghostriders and performing all of them with impressively dirty tints, suggested by the elaborate back lighting on the two of them and the looks they cast each other throughout.

The songs have very sexual and deviant messages which are constantly at odds with how light-hearted the melodies make them appear. The songs revel in stories of prostitutes and degenerate activities, but the overtones are covered up with the light vocal touches of Sharin and Sune. This lyrical subtlety is lost though as soon as the band launch into Boys Who Rape Should Be Destroyed, which, if nothing else, probably should be applauded for its frankness. This intertwining of dark and light within their music is what makes this band much more interesting than other bands indebted to the Spector wall of sound.

Unfortunately, by the time they finish the set with some of their own Christmas music, the crowd don't actually appear involved at all, and it takes more effort than is required normally to get the band back onstage. The pair were impressive and the wall of 60s noise that hit the audience that night was powerful enough to push them out of the back exit