Hard News by Russell Brown

22

The Clean are The Clean are The Clean

I have a few things to do before the big event tonight, so I'll keep it brief, but if a wannabe politician can review The Clean, then surely I should too.

They're in good touch. It might have been Hamish's 50th birthday on Saturday night (yes, there was a cake and, yes, everyone sang 'Happy Birthday' for him, and yes, he's looking good for it) but they sounded positively youthful. Their songs - so many of them now - are not so much tunes as spaces in which to move their three elements around, never quite the same way twice.

They played 'In Love With These Times', Hamish's iconically-entitled song from the first Bailter Space EP, and wound it up into a throbbing belter. Ditto for 'Tally Ho' and 'Getting Older', which both climbed into big, rhythmic grooves: the drums petitioning, the guitar crunching and the bass, as ever, binding it all together. Even a swoony number like 'Stars' had a rockin', propulsive feel to it. You can stick your Arctic Monkeys up your arse.

My personal highlight came when they let rip a storming version of the Velvet Underground's 'I Can't Stand It' to finish the first encore, and I can't even remember what they played between that and the final song of the evening, the twinkling 'Safe in the Rain'.

I wondered if there was anyone in the room who was coming to it fresh; who wasn't comparing tonight's version of 'Point That Thing Somewhere Else' with those committed to memory. (For the record, a dirty lead sent three or four loud cracks through the PA, which broke the spell a bit.) How would it sound to them? How does a McCahon look to someone who's never seen one?

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