Review: Palma Violets, The Duchess

24 Apr 2015 @ 8.17 am
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The view of the Palma Violets from The Duchess mosh pit
The view of the Palma Violets from The Duchess mosh pit

Palma Violets + Kid Wave

The Duchess, York

Tue April 21, 2015

The Duchess website

After the intense jealousy I felt at some of my jammier friends who managed to blag tickets to the NME Awards tour, to see Palma Violets’ name on the Duchess roster of upcoming gigs was the purest form of redemption, and my God above, they didn’t disappoint.

My ears are still ringing now.

It took a little while for only support Kid Wave to perform, waiting an hour and a half from doors which for me could have been filled with at least one local band – there would certainly have been enough willing performers – for a brief but lively set.

Their riffs were heart-warmingly familiar-sounding somehow, proving this is a band that just does things properly, from their polished wall of sound that they produce live from a strong rhythm section and doubled-up guitars to their luxuriantly stylish EP and single ‘sleeve’ design on Soundcloud.

Fringy front-female Lea Emmery said it was good to be back, and it was certainly good to have her back, head-pounding with an interesting semi-drawled, breathy vocal in equal parts Springsteen and Verlaine.

It has to be said I thought their tracks had a tendency to be a bit similar, especially as they segued from one to another almost constantly, but after a slight mid-set lull they rescued it with the perfectly indie Wanderlust.

Equal parts Springsteen and Verlaine – Lea Emmery and Kid Wave
Equal parts Springsteen and Verlaine – Lea Emmery and Kid Wave

It was another 40 minute wait before the headliners arrived, the anticipation in the crowd constantly building and simmering for the modern-day live legends about to take the stage

Then, finally, finally, came the cool cats.

They opened with a new song – not that you’d know it from the reception it received, rapturous doesn’t even come close – called Secrets Of America, an early indicator to expect more of the same raucous brilliance from their upcoming LP, which is a damn exciting thought.

This was followed by crowd and personal favourite Rattlesnake Highway with its huuuge (even by their standards) keyboard-organ driven sound, followed by the Ramones-esque track title of the night Girl, You Couldn’t Do Much Better On The Beach which saw lead vocals assumed by everyone’s favourite Violet, Chilli Jesson.

Breathtaking. Literally

The set was packed, instant gratifications for a completely heaving, steamy Duchess as tune followed tune followed tune, the fierce energy of the four-piece utterly hellraising and bringing about some seriously impressive moshing that has become a trademark of this lot’s shows.

It’s breathtaking, literally and metaphorically.

The second third of a relatively long 15-track set was packed with the hits, notably a powerhouse threesome comprising of ultimate friendzone anthem Best Friends, Last Of The Summer Wine which couldn’t be less like the sedate TV show if Peter Sallis leapt into the crowd smeared in his own faeces, and the utterly thrilling and utterly British closer Johnny Bagga Donuts.

To tell the truth, I didn’t make any notes at all during their part of the night, which is perhaps the ultimate testament to the gripping energy of their performance.

A four-song encore was topped off with an utterly ecstatic 14, easily a highlight on a night rammed with them, with its simple, anthemic refrain ‘Oh fourteen, oh fourteen, take me home through the night’ played in what seemed a far heavier fashion than on record.

No idea who or what 14 is – the A14 road linking the Port Of Felixstowe to the Catthorpe Interchange in Warwickshire maybe? – but the crowd reaction was utterly, beautifully maniacal and what’s certain is that each and every member of that dripping bacchanalia will never forget the night Palma Violets came to town.

Unless, perhaps, the boys from Lambeth simply blasted their brain’s memory centre out through their ears.