Palma Violets Live Review And Band Q&A - Amsterdam

Palma Violets

Location: Bitterzoet, Amsterdam, Thursday 28th March

rating: 4

It's fitting that the venue hosting Palma Violets tonight is the small church-like backdrop of Bitterzoet: the faux stained glass windows provide the perfect contextual setting for a band recently anointed the "saviours" of rock 'n' roll by the British music press. Palma Violets arrive here fresh from their debut album's lead single Best Of Friends being crowned NME€™s greatest track of 2012. It's insane really, considering that they formed only eighteen months ago in September 2011. Most UK bands at their stage would be honing their skills scrambling for gigs in the capital, but Palma Violets take to the stage tonight adrift in a sea of superlatives regarding their live credentials and with a critically acclaimed debut album under their belt. The question at the back of everyone's mind though: can they really be that good? The band arrives on stage with a minimum of fuss and launch immediately into the raucous old-fashioned rock 'n' roll of Johnny Bagga€™ Donuts. The sound is LOUD and the rousing riffs immediately make a normally subdued Dutch crowd stand to attention. Things really get going though when The Clash-like bite of Rattlesnake Highway weaves its way from a wave of discordant feedback, and a hardcore hipster contingent of Conor Oberst and Miles Kane lookalikes begins to gather and bounce around at the front of the gig. The mood mellows with the opening synth swoon of All The Garden Birds and you see surprise- pleasant surprise- wash over the faces of people who had clearly only expected tracks that lent themselves to The Clash tag that's attached itself to the band. Tom The Drum is next up, further showcasing the band's magpie-like affinity for drawing on and rechanneling an expansive collection of disparate influences; before the night is through Palma Violets' sound will evoke recollections of Eddie Cochrane, The Doors, Nick Cave, The Gun Club, and The Libertines. As the set progresses the widely reported chemistry between lead singer Sam Fryer and bassist/ vocalist Chilli Jesson is certainly palpable, but there's more to it than that; there's a real sense of empathy between all four band members. Keyboardist Peter Mayhew is the most subdued but this is at times necessary: his pulsating keyboard often serves as a welcome foil to the filthy guitars and sleazy bass, recalling Rob Collins' compelling keyboard work on The Charlatans' debut. The crowd are waiting for it and the opening notes of Best Of Friends see Bitterzoet transformed into a boozy cathedral of flailing arms and manic frenzy. The band tear through it with relish- they're having fun and Sam and Chilli are clearly elated to see the response that their efforts are eliciting. Will Doyle drums like a man possessed and as the last chords of the stormer subside it's only the keyboardist who isn't sweating buckets. The set continues to flow, with the tracks characterised by tempo changes that are similarly reflected in the fluctuations in mood and pace employed by the vocalists. Three songs later We Found Love straight into 14 sees the crowd having almost as much fun as they did with the lead single, before the band complete a triumphant set with a cover of Hot Nasties' Invasion of the Tribbles into 180's "secret" track Brand New Song. It's an empowering performance from the Lambeth quartet: key to their success is that onstage the band ooze authenticity and integrity and, though their influences are apparent, they still sound fresh and full of vitality. The British music press are wrong about one thing- rock 'n' roll does not need saving. But if it did, Palma Violets would be having a damn good crack at saving it. Set-list: Johnny Bagga€™ Donuts Rattlesnake Highway All the Garden Birds Tom the Drum Chicken Dippers Best of Friends Step Up for the Cool Cats Last of the Summer Wine We Found Love 14 Invasion of the Tribbles (Hot Nasties cover) Brand New Song Move to the next page for our Q&A with the band...

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