Killing Moon, William

Mike Hall 16/11/2004

Welcome to South East London's very first 'Damaged Goods' night at the newly refurbished Rose Of Lee in Lewisham. Obviously the death of the now-legendary Pop of the Tops nights at the Paradise Bar in neighbouring New Cross has left a gap for cheap entry, extra sweaty, overtly chaotic Tuesdays, and 'Damaged Goods' is among the first nights to attempt to fill it.

Despite being very poorly organised (benefit of the doubt as it's their first attempt), it's a success for two reasons: South London locals WILLIAM and headliners KILLING MOON.

WILLIAM deal in delicacy and dynamics, frontman Gavin Housley crossing the borders between the obsessional and the confessional with his surrealist lyrics and warped troubador delivery. They stumble and slip occasionally but never fall, lurching between wall-of-sound frenzy and sweetly picked melody. Eccentricities like instrument swapping, randomly dropping tunes from the set and calling songs 'Whoreditch' never seem contrived. They are obviously quite strange and wonderful people, as shown clearly in their strange and wonderful music. Standout tracks 'Playground' and set-closer 'Liplocked' are rousing jerk-rockers that should fill indie-disco floors very soon.

KILLING MOON are, for the most part, wonderful. Although taking their cues from the same places as current wonderkids Franz Fredinand and New York's The Bravery, they deftly manage to weave their Joy Division dourness, Cure-like sense of wonder and Smithsy delivery into something both original and occasionally awe-inspiring. Set opener 'One More Night' and closer 'Childs' are the kind of semi-anthemic '80s inspired gems that most bands of this ilk merely dream of writing. Vocalist Jason Bavanandan has true conviction, his intensity fed into countless screams and hard-edged melodies, but the true magic here comes from guitar weirdo James Ellis, smartly presented behind a rack of pedals, gizmos and various other guitar toys that he seems to tap and flick at random, adding texture and depth to the band's angular sound. His professor-like demeanour defines the band: bookish, masterful, aggressive and impressive.

It's great that SE Londoners have a new dive to inhabit on wet Tuesdays. If the promoters can keep booking this standard of band and perhaps organise their running times a little better, we may have a winner on our hands