Some bands, such as the Dandy Warhols, rightly or wrongly, are defined by one song. It is not their fault and often a huge shame, when they are about so much more. But hey, better have one song that will be written on your grave stone than none at all.
In advance of Friday night, all the talk was about the opening match of the Six Nations Rugby yet my lone voice stood out “Not for me, I’m off to the Brixton Academy to see the Dandy Warhols, you know, they did that song Bohemian Like You”. Cue phones out, google searches and nods all round. “Ah yes, I know it, it was the song in that phone advert, Vodafone I think”. Indeed it was, 2001, and it peaked at no 5 in the UK singles chart as a consequence. It has also been widely used in films and by other multinationals, including Ford and Holden in Australia, to promote their new motors. It is without doubt very catchy and undeniably feel good, a marketing guru’s dream.
It has clearly defined them and no doubt amply supplemented their bank balances but it’s not really what the Dandy Warhols are all about. Formed in Portland, Oregon, this latest tour marks their 25th anniversary having released 10 studio albums and 27 singles. That is serious longevity and they are, without doubt, a truly proper band. Furthermore, of the four, three of them – Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Peter Holmstrom and Zia McCabe – have been there since day one and Brent DeBoer joined in 1998. That is impressive.
Despite the arctic chill in London town, snow blizzards in bohemian Brixton being most unwelcome and the interior of the Academy being more than parky (have you ever worn a scarf throughout a gig ?) the music was uplifting and the Dandy Warhols produced a show to warm the soul.
A mix of alternative rock, with mild hints of country and western on occasions, they certainly know how to perform, bashing out songs from their extensive back catalogue as well as their very recently released album, Why You So Crazy. Indeed they kicked off with Forever, a haunting echoing number from this new album and later added the excellent Be Alright and Small Town Girls, also from this latest release.
However, the largest roars were reserved for three songs from their 2000 album Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia – Get Off and Godless, as well as Bohemian itself. You Were The Last High and We Used To Be Friends from their 2003 album Welcome to the Monkey House were also particularly memorable, full of rhythm, flow and some sing along too.
Then the finale. Each band has their own, something for the audience to take away with them, the last hurrah for the night. The Charlatans, for example, have it absolutely nailed with Sproston Green. Nothing compares, guitars rising to a fevered crescendo. Yet the Dandy Warhols came mightily close with Boys Better, a similar sustained guitar rift, with the band and audience losing themselves in the moment.
Boys might be better but Zia, the only girl on stage all night, had the last sound with her Outroset putting the seal on a top gig. All was fine and dandy at the Academy.