Matt Ridout

15:49 23rd September 2003

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Hand-picked to open the show by headliners the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Some Product is the brainchild of singer/songwriter Anne McCloy. Performing accompanied only by her black Fender Stratocaster, Anne runs through a set comprising an eclectic mix of garage-rock, blues and rap. The result is a thoroughly entertaining and unquestionably individual performance. A particular highlight is 'Sid Vicious is Dead', a brooding blues number containing an incredibly catchy guitar riff. Fans of The Kills take note.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs arrived back in London still riding the crest of the considerable wave of popular acclaim that their debut long-player 'Fever to Tell' (Polydor) has aroused. Playing to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd, their largest headline date in the capital so far, it would be fair to say that London has been soundly won over by these three New Yorkers and their rhythmic, angular brand of noise. The mini-Karen O replicas wandering around the Forum, mimicking the singers' predilection for outrageous homemade fashion designs, provide a visual testament of how influential the band has been stylistically to the fashion-conscious during their brief tenure. But can their musical appeal match their undoubted sartorial flair? On the strength of tonight's effort their tunes provide a fitting match for their chic threads.

There is no doubt that Karen O is already an immense star, you can't fail to appreciate her talent while watching her perform. Whirling across the stage in a fetching pink prom dress Karen kicks and struts around like she owns the joint, flitting from demure chanteuse to maniacal banshee with ease, it's as if she inherited the combined genetics of Iggy Pop and Kathleen Hanna. Her two band mates, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase, lay the foundation. They are tight and accomplished without over-embellishing, creating a sharp rhythmic groove punctuated by bursts of discordant noise, the perfect accompaniment to Karen's unique vocals.

The band draws the majority of their set this evening from the debut LP. Album opener 'Rich', 'Date with the Night' and forthcoming single 'Pin' being particular highlights. Yet it is the material from their first two EP's that still causes the biggest stir. 'Bang' and 'Mystery Girl' see Karen swinging her dress from side to side as if she was starring in a 1950's sock-hop musical. 'Art Star' finds the singer doubled-over, alternating between demonic screaming and coquettish nursery rhyming. The only significant question mark regarding their repertoire is 'Maps', the bands down-tempo love song that compliments their record but falls somewhat flat live. Although not quite a ballad in the truest sense, it seems to disjoint the overall performance, providing a rather sour footnote to an otherwise impressive set.

It is easy to overlook the fact that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are still a young band with only a single album and a few EP's under their belts. Such is their seemingly meteoric rise from underground heroes to mainstream media darlings. Whilst they are still developing their sound and finding their feet, they are already quite an impressive outfit. Given time, they could be very special indeed.

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