New Yorkers Darwin Deez stopped off in Birmingham on his UK tour last week, and man, are we grateful for it. Darwin and his band brought their uninhibited creative sparks to the stage and turned the Rainbow into a scene of psychedelic pop glory. Supporters Peluche [rating: 2] started the gig off on a different note though, combining weird and repetitive synth patterns with even weirder vocals. Their conflicting parts clash so much it seems like the 3-girl band are being abstract for the sake of it. Nevertheless, the audience are clearly intrigued by their peculiarity (Peluchiarity? Or not…) although their inexperience is highlighted by the rough sales-pitch at the end of the set. Peluche do have something to offer, creating a live sound I’d never heard before. On the other hand, it’s not one I’m particularly keen to hear again.
Darwin Deez’s [rating: 4] entrance onto the stage is much better received. He doesn’t just do it the normal way, either – the band come on in a fully-rehearsed Egyptian style dance routine. These continue throughout the set inbetween songs, backed with old hits from hip-hop to boy bands. It sets the tone for the fun gig we have ahead of us – ‘fun’ honestly being the best word to describe the hour and a half that follows. The new album Double Down really shines in a live setting, although unfortunately it doesn’t get quite the same crowd response as some of his earlier songs. The band flick seamlessly between old, like ‘Deep Sea Divers’, and new tracks, like ‘Last Cigarette’, all blessed with that signature sharp, poppy style. The one track that deviates from this ever-so slightly is ’Chelsea’s Hotel’ off the second album, a song which, Darwin explained in our interview beforehand, took him off the traditional pop-structure path of the rest of his music. The band elongate it even more with some amazing guitar solos, something Darwin actually apologises for since ‘Unless you’re a guitar player, that will have been really boring for you’.
Another moment of Deez-coolness was the ‘end’ of his set (it was actually rounded off with an encore). Originally, Darwin explains that he has two songs left, but the crowd background chant of “Radar Detector!!!” demanding the hit off of first album ‘Darwin Deez’, might have irked other musicians, but he simply answers, “Three more!” and gets on with finishing the set. The unplanned song is impressively smooth too, and leads into the final track without a break.
After such a solid, professional yet truly entertaining show, the audience are keen to hear more so return to the chants for “Encore!” The band oblige, and round off the gig with another favourite ‘Bad Day’, the cheery ‘f*** you’ lyrics like opener “I hope that the last page of your 800-page novel is missing” leaving every one pouring out of the Rainbow in good spirits. It summarises Darwin Deez’s style pretty well too, both live and on record, he’s an artist who can relate and comfort a listener through amazing songwriting, whilst still entertaining us all better than most popstars could.